Baker & McKenzie, an American law firm, has a radical alternative, which it calls a "zero holiday-allocation" policy. The firm's lawyers can now take as much or as little holiday as they like, provided they bring in the expected 2000 billable hours a year.
Could it happen here? The British offices of another leading US law firm, Simpson Thatcher, have looked into the idea. And where lawyers lead, others might follow.
QS firm Robinson Low Francis now offers its staff a menu of employment conditions, such as private healthcare and extra holidays. It recently considered giving its people three "pillow days" a year, when they can call in from bed and take the day off without pretending to be sick.
The basic premise of zero-allocation holidays is that professional people know what work they have to do, so they should be trusted to decide how much holiday to take and when to take it. Many companies already apply that principle to working hours, but no British construction firm has taken the radical step of extending it to annual leave. But you never know – it could be the shape of things to come.