On February 29, everyone at Zappos will get a paid day off. It’s the first time, since the company opened, that its call center–normally open 24 hours a day, all year–will ever close. Their reasoning: Leap Day is extra time, and we should probably use it for something we normally wouldn’t do.
“What we were originally talking about was asking people–because Leap Day is an extra 24 hours, and we live such fast-paced, busy lives–‘What would you do with this extra 24 hours?'” says Tyler Williams from the company’s “brand aura” group, their non-traditional marketing team. They considered running a sweepstakes to fulfill a customer’s dream day. Then they decided that Leap Day is something everyone should celebrate.
“We thought, man, it would be really awesome if we had the opportunity to go do something amazing on Leap Day,” he says. “And then we thought, well, why don’t we set the example to let our employees do that with their extra day. And actually petition the government to make it a national holiday, which we thought was possible because it only happens every four years.”
On Change.org, the company is leading a push to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to make Leap Day an official national holiday. Because the petition only ensures that congress and the president will have to consider the idea–and they’ll still need support–they’re also trying to convince other companies to give employees a paid day off, and pushing for states to adopt it as a holiday too.
It’s not simple to get a national holiday adopted. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for example, took 15 years of petitions and marches. But with characteristic optimism, Zappos thinks it can be done. “We’re Zappos,” says Williams. “We think we can do anything.”
On Monday, some Zappos employees plan to volunteer; others will spend the day trying to master a video game. And two employees plan to get married, with CEO Tony Hsieh officiating. “After the announcement that Zappos was giving us the day off, it made for a perfect opportunity to spend the day celebrating our marriage with family and friends,” say Garrett Miller and Danielle Kelly.
They hope the push for a national holiday succeeds. “Everyone deserves an extra 24 hours to do something special,” Miller and Kelly say. Some would argue that it’s also only fair to take the day off; if you work on salary and normally work 365 days a year, working on February 29 is like giving your company an extra day of your labor–for free.