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Newest Silicon Valley perk: Paid time off to protest Trump

Silicon Valley firms have long been known for offering a litany of employee perks: fresh-cooked lunches, free massages, climbing walls and dog-friendly offices.

Now some are adding yet another incentive to attract and retain workers: paid time off to protest.

Fauna, a San Francisco database start-up, recently began allowing its 13 employees to take unlimited paid leave to participate in rallies, vote, write letters to elected officials and take part in other civic activities. Before February, employees could take time off on an as-needed basis. But the political climate — and polarization — since President Trump‘s inauguration called for more defined measures, said Amna Pervez, director of recruiting and retention.

“Since there’s been such a divide in our country, we felt we should be very explicit about our policy,” Pervez said, adding that the company also provides unlimited vacation time. “We want our employees to know that we absolutely support the betterment of our country. People can take whatever they feel like they need to make a meaningful difference.”

A number of other start-ups, including Turbine Labs, Buoyant and Jelly Industries, have signed on to do the same. The new policies come as some technology firms and other companies take a stand against the Trump administration’s plans to tighten restrictions for foreign workers. On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order that would impose new restrictions on H1-B visas, a type of temporary work visa often used by firms to recruit and employ highly skilled workers.

Read more: Trump’s ‘hire American’ order aims to reshape skilled-worker visa program »

“If you’re a tech company, taking a pro-immigration stand is not exactly a bold move,” said Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School. “When there’s a tight labor market and companies are fighting for programmers, this is a way to say, ‘See? We’re here to support you.'”

Facebook, for example, is allowing its employees to take time off to participate in pro-immigration rallies May 1. The company, which relies heavily on foreign workers, informed employees and contractors last week that they would not be penalized for missing work to protest, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.


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