Gap Encourages Employee Time Off at Headquarters

All work and no play is apparently not the Gap way.

All work and no play is apparently not the Gap way.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In an unprecedented move that will reduce expenses, Gap Inc. asked employees at its San Francisco corporate office to take three vacation days this week — Wednesday through Friday — and many complied with the request, the company said.

Bill Chandler, vice president of corporate communications, said these are paid vacation days, and that the strategy pays off financially for Gap. “It reduces the vacation accrual on our books, so its reduces overall expenses,” he said. “I am personally taking the days off. It really depends on the desire of the employees and whether they would welcome a break.”

It also means there will be a higher head count at the home office during the crucial holiday season.

The chain has long struggled with depressed sales and thin store traffic. With a new team led by chief executive officer Glenn Murphy trying to turnaround the business, employees are working extra hard under intense pressure.

“This is entirely voluntary and doesn’t affect customer-facing operations or the stores in any way,” Chandler said. “We know people are working hard and recognized they could use a much-needed break. We discussed the opportunity with employees last week. The teams were thrilled to take a break.”

Chandler said it was the first time the Gap made this request to employees. Human resources, legal and other corporate functions are involved, he added.

Some employees are allowed to carry over certain amounts of unused vacation time into the next year, depending on their position and years of employment.