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I don’t think we’ve had this conversation in a few years, so let’s discuss: What “vacation time” comes with your job? What happens if you don’t take the time? How much time have you taken off in recent years, as a percentage of what you’re eligible for? (If your company allows remote work, do remote workers have the same vacation time packages/expectations as in-office workers?)
I’ve seen four main kinds of paid vacation days given by companies:
Earn your vacation time: You have to work to earn your vacation time. At a smaller office, a newer hire may be prohibited from taking extensive vacations, especially around holidays, as more senior members get first pick of when they’ll take time off. Sick days may “blend” a bit with vacation. (I just saw someone tweeting about how she had worked a zillion days straight while trying to “save up” for her maternity leave. Whee!)
Use it or lose it: Your company may give you a set number of days for vacation — and if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. In my experience, people with these packages are the ones who take vacations the most, even if they’re just restful staycations, because it’s part of the company culture that everyone takes that number of days off.
Rolling over vacation time: Some companies grant a set number of vacation days, and those vacation days can roll over from one year into the next if they go unused. This can be ideal in a situation like a pandemic, where travel can be difficult — but also if you want to bank your days, either for a big trip (honeymoon!) or to extend a limited maternity leave, especially with a small company where FMLA doesn’t apply.
”Unlimited” vacation days: These benefits SEEM like they’ll be amazing at first because, woohoo, unlimited vacation! But in my experience a lot of people in these jobs take less vacation than people with limited vacation days. I think this happens for a few reasons, the biggest of which comes to company culture — without the “use it or lose it” mentality, a lot of people just don’t take vacation. (On the flip side, I know one friend of a friend who’s the top executive at a hospital who has taken probably 10 weeks of vacation between January 2021 and now … so if you can actually take it, good for you!) If you have unlimited vacation days, I’d love to hear how many you take, and what a “reasonable number of vacation days” is (unofficially) among your coworkers.
So let’s discuss, readers: What do your vacation benefits look like? Does your office or team have rules (written or otherwise) on who can go on vacation at what time? Finally, how much vacation have you taken in recent years (and how much are you planning to take over the next 12 months or so)?
Stock photo via Stencil.