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Your Take: Did You Use Up Your Vacation Days?

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Here’s a statistic that is always surprising and this year was no different – the average American worker gets 14 vacation days a year and only uses 12 of them. That adds up to 226 million unused vacation days, or approximately $34.3 billion dollars of work. That’s amazing. It’s not that surprising though as we are in one of the worst periods of unemployment in quite some time and many people are probably cutting back on vacation days in order to be more productive. It’s not exactly fair but it’s human nature, if I’m concerned about getting fired then the last thing I’m going to do is take a vacation day. I’m going in to work harder and longer so I can show I’m a valuable asset to the team.

That said, have you used up all your vacation days?

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29 Responses to “Your Take: Did You Use Up Your Vacation Days?”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    I have used up most of mine, but we can roll up to five vacation days over to the next year, which makes it feasible to store them up for emergency use, such as right now when I am sitting at a mechanic’s shop instead of at my job.

    I also recognize fully that my employer is fairly generous with vacation time, giving two to five weeks depending on seniority. I am at the four-week mark, having worked here for over ten years.

  2. Dean says:

    Next Friday is my last work day for the year. Even with taking the last three weeks of the year off, I’ll still forfeit 6 hours of vacation. I’ve just been too overbooked throughout the year to take off.

    Once my employer decided to no longer allow any carryover, there are still many managers caught by surprise how staffing is always a problem at the end of the year!

  3. Cole Brodine says:

    My employer gives more vacation time based on length of service. Since I’ve been here more than 5 years, I accrue 9.33 hours of vacation a month and can save up to 224 hours of vacation. We also get one 8 hour personal holiday at the beginning of the year that we can take whenever we want.

    (That means I get about 14 days a year and can save up to 28 days)

    I haven’t lost any vacation yet, but I do have 176 hours saved up.

    If anybody is curious the graduated vacation chart at my company is as follows:

    Years of Service – Monthly Vacation Hours
    0 – 6.67
    5 – 9.33
    10 – 11.33
    15 – 13.33
    20 – 14.67
    25 – 16
    30 – 16.67

    Yes, we have several people with 30+ years of service. The average time of an employee with my company right now is 22 years.

  4. Courtney says:

    This is a strange question to me. I’ve never used up all my vacation time because it’s always a ‘rolling amount’ to me (I can carry 240 hours over from year to year!) I’ll have 80-90 hours left at the end of this year (uncertain as to exactly how much, because I can also accrue and hold up to 40 hours of credit leave at any given time, which I use up before I dip into any vacation time).

    I earn 104 hours a year, and that will go to 156 hours in 2013 (all separate from my sick leave). I went on two and a half weeks worth of actual ‘vacation’ this year, plus a few random days here and there to visit family/friends.

  5. cvargo says:

    I work for a very generous company whose goal is to treat its employees the same way they want there employees to treat the customers. I have 28 vacation days a year, and you are allowed to carry over 5 days each year so i will have 33 days next year. And it is frowned upon here if you forfeit your vacation days, needless to say I will be taking the last 2 weeks of december off and still roll over my 5 days. Another interesting point to be made here is, I have read that in England and other European countries you receive a lot more vaction time sometimes 3 months, because they feel you will be more productive.

  6. Lamont says:

    i started my job when i was 22 years old, single, with no dependents. im now 40, married, with 4 kids.
    i began banking my vacation days my second year of employment (i am allowed to carry a balance of 60 days with any overage to be used by the the end of April in the following year.)
    the first few years were tough but i also realized that the days i was saving at that time were going to be worth far more in the future. when i started i made $X an hour, i now make nearly 3x my starting wage. this is an often overlooked but critical consideration when evaluating whether to use or bank vacation time (for those who have the option to do so).
    i was young, eager and willing to do the work but was always aware that as i approached retirement i may not be as “gung-ho” as the vigor of my youth would allow me to be.
    i also considered possible health issues and wanted to negate the possibility of not being paid if i had to be off work for an extended period of time.
    additionally, if your employer grants vacations based on seniority you might rather save the days than take them in early February (unless you are big into celebrating groundhog’s day) or other undesirable time slots.
    in a use it or lose it scenario i would suggest using days around holidays to create long weekends. but you must use the time or cash it in or its of no benefit at all.
    i’ve invested a lot of thought into strategic use of vacation time; don’t even get me started about sick leave, lol!

  7. daenyll says:

    i still have two days, but don’t see anyway to work them in and still fulfill responsibilities at the small company I work for.

  8. Lorena says:

    I’ve worked at the same organization for almost six years and am able to carry over my vacation hours up to a certain amount. This year, I would have run up against “use it or lose it” time had I not had my baby and decided to shorten my work week to four days in order to take care of him one day a week (and this is on top of my three-month paid maternity leave, all taken with a combination of paid and sick leave, leaving my vacation time untouched).

    Still, even with 20 days taken by the end of the year, I still had enough time to take the week of Thanksgiving off and two weeks for the December holidays. Even then, I’ll still have two weeks of vacation come January, not counting the hours I accrue in the meantime. Thankfully, it’ll get used up quickly as my husband and I will visit family for a couple of weeks next summer.

    I worked hard at my company and saw little reason to vacation in years past. Now, I have a *very* good reason to take time off.

  9. freeby50 says:

    I don’t think the unused vacation is really a sign of the economic times. I think thats just normal for Americans.

    I bet a lot of people don’t use all their vacation cause they can ‘bank’ it and get it paid out if its unused.

  10. partee875 says:

    I always and will always use up all my vacation time given to me. I have to make time for vacations or I’d go insane. Life isn’t worth living if you spend it in an office.

    I can’t forsee ever being at a job that won’t allow me to use them all. I know it may be naive and very wishful thinking but that’s where I am in life!

  11. Kristy says:

    I’m a part-time hourly-wage worker. I don’t get vacation time.

  12. Kay says:

    We also have an increased amount of days the longer you’re with the company – every five years it increases.

    I’ve been here less than one. I have not utilized all my vacation time, and wouldn’t if I had it available, as it is also needed for sick days.

    If I get sick and don’t have an vacation time, they cut my paycheck.

    I work at a local chapter of a well known nonprofit.

  13. Husker Avid says:

    The travel industry has figures on the revenue that would be generated if Americans had just one more day per year off. The people who have responded to this question are unusual. Most people leave a lot of vacation time on the table–we work too hard.

    Australians get about 42 days of vacation which gives them the freedom to travel the world. How smart are we?

  14. Husker Avid says:

    Further, as a travel agent I know that whenever there is a 3 day weekend that hot spots for travel will be swamped–Vegas, Disney, cruises. Vacation days help the economy in this way.

  15. Courtney says:

    “I always and will always use up all my vacation time given to me. I have to make time for vacations or I’d go insane. Life isn’t worth living if you spend it in an office.”

    As I mentioned up-thread, I took 2 1/2 weeks of actual vacations plus random days here and there for visiting family and friends. But I’m still rolling over hours into 2012. If you aren’t required to, why would you want to have a zero balance going into a new year? What if you want to take a long weekend in January or something? What if you have a family emergency that requires you to travel somewhere for a week?

    I have always “used” vacation, but I have never “used UP” vacation. That just doesn’t seem smart to me.

  16. Brianne says:

    I’m banking mine for my future maternity leaves. I have three weeks banked plus five weeks of sick leave. We can accrue ten weeks of each so I’m safe there. Next year, I bump up to 18 days/year and my husband only gets ten so I’ll always have more.

  17. govenar says:

    My issue is that I don’t usually plan vacations far in advance. I guess I should just schedule vacations at random days in the future.

  18. Tabby says:

    Yes sir I did! I used all my vacation days. Why? Because they’re mine. I work hard everyday and if I don’t use them they will expire. Not happening. ; )

  19. Sarah in Alaska says:

    My vacation and sick time is combined in one account, so no, I didn’t use it all. I’m also allowed to roll it over every year and plan to save up at least 12 weeks for emergency illnesses.

    That said, I did take 21 days of vacation/personal leave this year. Wow! I didn’t realize it was that much. I took time to travel in Feb, May, Jun, July, Aug. In November, family came to visit me. I’ve had a good year.

  20. Shirley says:

    When I was working, the company paid out unused sick leave (5 days per year) in the first week of December and vacation time could be rolled over into the next year. I took a two month paid stay-cation that ended when I retired.

  21. elloo says:

    My company does not allow roll over days. I was on med leave when I was supposed to take 12 vacation days in August and September. So I’ll be out even more now so these days won’t lost. I would have preferred to roll over some.

  22. gmcord says:

    My employer lumps vacation and personal leave into one pot. The longer you are employed, the greater the rate of accrual. At 12 years, I get 7.34 hours every 2 weeks – provided I work at least sometime during those 2 weeks. Upper limit is 280 hours – which is reimbursable upon leaving employment — after which the next 280 hours roll over into a personal disability account which is NOT reimbursable. The personal disability account can only be used for my own medical conditions or situations – not for another family member. I am pushing the envelope again for 2 reasons: There’s an heap of work always to do (I run a small department of 2. No one else can do the bulk of my job responsibilities. When I’m out, I have to work extra extra hard upon my return to catch back up) and I’m nervous that out of sight could mean out of a job!

  23. tbork84 says:

    I am lucky to be able to accrue about 40 days of vacation time, and we are given 4 weeks a year. I know that I am in the minority, but its one of the benefits of where I work.

  24. Scott says:

    I would like to pass a law stating that anyone that does not use all of their vacation days is not allowed to gripe about how much time they spend working.

    Personally, the only time I don’t use up all of my vacation days in one year is if I’m saving them up to use specifically for a long vacation the following year. Heck, this year I will use up all but one or two of my vacation days AND I took unpaid FMLA for a couple weeks. Use your benefits! (Otherwise, they’re not benefits.)

  25. Strebkr says:

    We can only carry over 1 day so really once you have your carry over day saved up you have to spend all the days you get in a single year.


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