About a third of Basecamp employees said they were stepping down after the company that makes productivity software announced new guidelines banning discussions in the workplace about politics.

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, explained the guidelines in a blog post on Monday, describing “social and political discussions” about corporate messaging tools as a “major distraction”. He wrote that the company also prohibits committees, cutting benefits such as a fitness allowance (giving employees cash value) and stopping “dwelling on previous decisions and thinking about them.”

Basecamp had 57 employees, including Mr Fried when the announcement was made, according to a staff list on its website. Since then, at least 20 of them have publicly announced that they want to resign or have already resigned, according to a New York Times tally. Basecamp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Fried and David Hansson, two of Basecamp’s founders, have published several books on work culture, and news about their latest management philosophy has received a mixture of applause and criticism on social media.

After the Platformer newsletter published details of a dispute within the company that contributed to the decision to ban political talks, Hansson wrote in another blog post that Basecamp employees who disagreed with the founders would receive a severance payment of up to six Month salary offered me choice.

“We are committed to a deeply controversial stance,” wrote Hansson, Basecamp’s chief technology officer. “Some employees are relieved, others are angry, and that describes the public debate about it pretty well.”

Coinbase, a start-up that enables people to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, announced a similar ban last year, with a similar offer to provide severance pay to employees who disagreed. The company said 60 of its employees had resigned, about 5 percent of its workforce.