Yahoo imposes unpaid winter break

Yahoo employees looking for a good excuse not to visit the in-laws in Bumpass, VA this holiday season won't be able to claim they'll be stuck at the office.

First revealed on Valleywag, Yahoo has told its 10,000-plus employees that it's closing down its U.S. offices for the week between Christmas and New Year's and that workers are required to burn unused vacation time for the duration.

According to the internal memo sent around to Yahoos, those who have the vacation time accrued will automatically have it docked from Dec. 26 through Dec. 29. Those who don't are permitted to borrow future vacation days.

Following are excerpts from the memo:

"This makes good business sense and is common practice for many media and technology companies during what is traditionally a quiet work week. ... This will allow many US Yahoos to enjoy guilt-free time-off while helping Yahoo! reduce unused vacation time. ..."

"Taking a little time-off during a work week when so many of our partners and advertisers are also closed is the prudent thing for Yahoo! to do. Please contact your manager or human resources business partner for additional information and please enjoy the time off!"

Yahoo has since confirmed the accuracy of the memo, according to AP: "Yahoo spokeswoman Joanna Stevens confirmed the e-mail's authenticity, as well as the company's closure plans. 'This will make sure everyone has time to recharge their batteries,' Stevens said."

The move is likely indicative of the stiff competition that Yahoo faces in the race among search engines for online ad revenue. Stevens described the savings of the forced break as "minimal."

So here's my two cents on the subject: If the savings are minimal, why bother? Yahoo is undoubtedly frustrating a lot of employees by imposing this vacation on them -- particularly those who don't really want or need time off between Christmas and New Year's.

Maybe Yahoo should have made it optional, encouraging employees to take time off for the good of the team. Or perhaps the company could have offered a little incentive. But dictating to employees how they're going to use their hard-earned vacation time, then trying to frame it as some great benefit, doesn't strike me as an optimal HR or managerial manuever.

Plus when companies start making sudden and rather unorthodox budget cuts like this, you know that at least a few employees are going to start updating their resumes, and some stockholders might be a little less enthusiastic about your company's future.

What do you think? Was this a prudent move on Yahoo's part? How would you feel about getting unpaid vacation time during the last week of December?