US consultancy giant Bain & Company is offering some staff in China the option to take six months’ leave while earning a portion of their regular salaries, according to people familiar with the matter.

Employees were informed this week of a new “career enrichment programme”, with those who are accepted being allowed to take a half-year leave to “learn a new skill”, according to sources who were briefed on the scheme, but declined to be identified because the information is private.

A stipend equivalent to 30 per cent of base pay will be provided during the period, the people said. Participation is voluntary.