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.
12 set holidays
Closed between Christmas and NY
11 sick days
wow! i need your benefits
This sounds about like what I used to get in academia.
I commented below, but I’m staff in higher ed and have 22 vacation days as well. Curious that so many universities seem to give that exact amount – does anyone know how that number was arrived at? It seems so random.
Do you work for a public university? I’m guessing here.
Hello ladies! I’m a pear shape and have a short waist. I only buy blouses that don’t need to be tucked in because I think it looks bad on my by emphasizing my lower half. This really limits what blouses I can buy, or I buy longer blouses and have them tailored. Maybe it’s time to re-think the whole approach. Does anyone else deal with this issue? How do you handle it? Is it all in my head and I should just start tucking blouses in?? Thank you
Also a pear. I think it is worth looking at how other pear-shaped ladies appear with their shirts tucked or untucked. I feel like I grew up thinking untucked hides more, but in reality tucked in looks more trim. It just feels strange and takes some getting used to after a couple of decades of going untucked only.
I’m more of an apple but have been inspired by some of the plus size influencers who are kind of throwing rules like that out the window and focusing on style instead of appearing slender. If your style is preppy or something where you would like to tuck, then go for it. If your style is sloppier then you can do the half tuck.
Use or Lose/Rollover combination:
Holidays: 10 annually, plus Dec. 25-Jan. 1 each year
Personal Days: 3 annually (These are strictly use or lose within a calendar year.)
Sick Days: 10 annually (prorated in year one based on hire date; these are strictly use or lose within a calendar year.)
Vacation (accrues on a per-pay-period basis): 4 weeks (20 days) annually, but after five years of employment, vacation accrual increases to 5 weeks (25 days) annually. These accrue over time and roll over but with a cap of 30 days, so if you hit that cap at any point in time, you stop accruing.
Not really able to use sick days for vacation leave, but can use them to extend parental leave. Parental leave currently at 16 weeks for any employee (overlaps with STD 6-8 weeks for the birthing parent), but during my first pregnancy we only had STD (6-8 weeks) and I had to use my accrued vacation balance and sick leave for the year to pay myself during the remaining leave that I took.
No official rules that more senior people can book their leave first, and my team is small, so we just kind of discuss it with each other when requesting time off. I have also worked there 13 years and my boss 16 years, so we are fairly senior anyway.
For actual vacation/staycation, 2020 I took 7 days, 2021 17 days, and 2022 planning on 24 days total, but in 2020 I had parental leave in which I used 28 vacation days to pay myself and will have another parental leave in 2022 using another 10 days of vacation to extend leave. Pre-pandemic, I used about 22-25 per year, since that’s what I accumulate per year, while keeping a balance of about 15 in the bank (was saving for the unpaid parental leave which occurred in 2020). After the upcoming 2022 parental leave, I plan to still keep about 18 days in the bank at any one time while still using about 22-25 days a year. We can get vacation paid out if we leave (but not use/lose sick or personal). In 2020 and 2022 for parental leave, I used all my sick leave as well, but didn’t use very much sick leave in 2019 or 2021. I always use the 3 personal days for floating holidays.
(I have a spreadsheet tracking all these types of leave and my usage and the reasons.)
When I worked in state government I got:
20 vacation days
Oh, and there was no parental leave with my first pregnancy (only STD) but with my second I got 4 weeks, which was (relatively) amazing.
15 accrued PTO days, which roll over, and are capped at 30
12 accrued sick days
15 fixed and 1 floating holidays
the place is closed between Xmas and New Yrs, and we have to take a few PTO/floating holiday to cover that.
It’s not outrageously little, but it’s not awesome. Like any HR, ours claims the benefits package is so awesome, especially when you try to get a raise. The only really outstanding things in that package might be health insurance and job security.
Unlimited vacation days, and lots of encouragement to take advantage of it
2 weeks of office shutdown annually
I’m personally going to take at least 4 weeks worth this year in addition to the shutdown weeks. Some are week long, some are just “let me give myself a long weekend.” I love not having to count my vacation days!
24 days PTO (started at 18 six years ago)
0 sick/personal (included in PTO)
You can roll some number over, unsure what it is because I always use almost all of mine. Time off is more important to me than money– I’d love to work for one of those companies that gives you a paid long-term leave as a perk for staying.
All Federal holidays
15 vacation days (plus bonus week)
15 sick days
5 personal days
2 medical days (can be used for dr, dentist, etc)
These roll over and after you accumulate a certain amount there’s an automatic pay out.
Tech company with an “unlimited” policy, in addition to 1 week of shut-down per year. My personal goal is to take at least 4 weeks of vacation this year in addition to holidays/company shut-down. I’m trying to artificially create a “use it or lose it” mindset to make sure I get the time!
Same. Tech with unlimited vacation. We get prompted if we don’t take any time in a quarter.
Taking 2-3 week long vacations and likely quite a few random Fridays this summer.
I work for a public university.
I have 22 vacation days + a holiday shutdown between Christmas and New Years
3 personal days (these used to expressly be NOT for vacation, but they’ve taken away that restriction so this year I’m using them as vacation days)
6 paid holidays (excluding the Christmas/NY ones)
Unlimited sick leave that can be used for kids’ illnesses as well
You can accrue up to 44 vacation days (two years’ worth). I normally never accrue anything significant because we travel a lot, but in Covid I took a lot less time off, so in both 2022 and 2023 I’m planning 6 week-long vacations and a handful of long weekends.
I’m a partner at an eat what you kill firm (no salary), about 50 attorneys. I get an estimated draw every month but I don’t know the percentage of the dollar amount I get to keep until January of the following year. Under this structure, I don’t have any paid time off – if I don’t bill, I don’t collect, I don’t get paid. If I want parental or medical leave, it’s up to me to arrange and/or get insurance coverage. When I was an associate, I was salaried and didn’t get PTO but would have been eligible for 6 weeks paid parental leave and unpaid FMLA.
Pre-Covid, I used to take most Saturdays off, and I’d have 6-7 long weekends (working half days) with friends and family during the year. My co workers generally did the same, with weekends off and maybe a full week off in the summer.
Since the pandemic, I take two full weeks off and try not to check email – one week in the spring, and one week in the fall. I also slow way down between Christmas and New Years, and don’t work full Sundays anymore. Many more attorneys in my firm travel and work remote than before the pandemic- work remote meaning, respond to emails and calls but minimal drafting/new work. A few partners have been surprised at how much I travel, meaning, the two weeks per year, but no one has penalized me for it.
I feel like you’re working too much!
I am an equity partner also. I never work on weekends. I take most Fridays off. I am efficient so bill as much as many of my partners (less than the associates) on probably 85% time. I take 2 weeks completely out of pocket in July and probably another 2 weeks total (when I just go thru emails but don’t actually work) over the course of the year. Not enough but I am still growing my book.
20 Vacation days
5 additional purchased vacation days (optional for purchase)
5 Personal days (Absence With Permission)
All of the above time earned per year is “use it or lose it”.
Can you explain purchased days? Like, you pay for paid time off?
I’m not AOK, but I had this at my last job, called OTO (optional time off). There was a formula to determine cost (divide base salary by X and multiply by Y to get daily rate), and you could buy up to 5 days off per year. The cost was taken out of your check all year long. I never did it because the formula was ridiculously weighted to the company’s benefit, so the days cost way too much.
5 sick days
Weird assortment of holidays due to being a European company
Everything is “use it or lose it” and I only started here last fall, so I haven’t yet experienced a full year’s PTO balance.
I was not pleased about going backwards in vacation when I switched to this job, but I decided it was worth it to be permanently fully remote. Technically I can pack up my laptop and work a week from a beach condo, and nobody would notice or care.
This will also be the first year in which a real vacation is feasible for me in almost a decade, due to my FIL’s passing this winter. We were chained to our hometown providing him round-the-clock care.
11 company-wide holiday closures
35 days of vacation & sick leave in one PTO bucket (30 of those days are use or lose, 5 can be rolled over)
Anything not used accumulates and can be used to cover short term disability if it is ever needed.
PTO accrues pro-rated through the year but as long as you are not brand new and trying to use it all at once right up front, no one cares if you use it before you have earned it each year. Time off is generally approved regardless of seniority or first-come basis, but people also know not to take the busiest week of the department off capriciously. We are strongly encouraged to use all of our PTO and people have been sent home to use PTO when they tried to come in ill (pre-pandemic, they have learned not to do that now).
NYC big law attorney here. I get 20 vacation days. Up to 10 can be rolled over but at some point during the pandemic they imposed a deadline to use up vacation days (10 of the year’s vacation days plus half of any rolled over time had to be used by 9/30) – this was framed as “we’re concerned people aren’t taking enough of a break” but it was clear that they were also worried about staffing when the world opened up again and everyone wanted to take vacations all of a sudden. The policies around scheduling vacations vary by group. In my very niche practice group, no one has ever been told that they *can’t* take a vacation because too many other people are away, but it’s also extremely rare to be able to take a vacation and actually be left alone.
We seem to have unlimited sick and personal days but practically I don’t use these much due to workload.
We also get days off for standard federal holidays, including two days at Thanksgiving and the Monday after any holidays that fall on a weekend.
Corporette should do more surveys like this of firm benefits, like health insurance plans, parental leave policies, etc. There’s not a lot of transparency.
Agree re surveys. I am shocked when my friends at other firms talk about benefits. A recruiter recently called me and said she couldn’t offer me as good of benefits as I have and I about fell off my chair- it must not be common knowledge that all partners pay 200% the cost for single or family coverage benefits compared to an employee at our firm.
Nada. Commission only so I do what I want. Which means I work always and basically never take vacation. Super healthy relationship with work, I have…
22 vacation days + 13 holidays. These are all lumped into a single vacation bucket giving you the freedom to choose when and what holidays you celebrate. 10 days can rollover into the next year but have to be used by the end of March or you lose them.
10 sick days that are billed as “unplanned” so you can use them on short notice for whatever reason.
I use all of my days!
120 hours of combined vacation + sick time, 10 paid holidays, and the company shuts down between Christmas and New Years, mandatory use of PTO. It sucks.
Out of Place Engineer
17 Paid Holidays (in 2022)
30 days vacation, use it or lose it
Unlimited sick time
It is a lot of time…almost 20% of the year! We definitely have a culture of trying to use your time before the end of the year, but it isn’t always possible. And personal responsibility around your job — it is your time to use, but make sure you get your work done. (For instance, don’t take a week when a large project is due.) After being stressed and not using all of my time last year, I committed to taking at least one day off every month, even if it is just myself around the house. And I do end up working some on vacation, but that seems to be more self-preservation for when I return.
25 vacation days earned concurrently (regulated by law), 5 days can be rolled over, 5 days can be paid out.
5 vacation days earned in one year, released in the following year
7-12 bank holidays (depending on when they fall)
unlimited sick leave
Fortune 50 company – 3 years there
15 vacation days [accrued but you can use it early in the year if you want – can roll over 5]
10 set company holidays (includes Juneteenth and the day after Thanksgiving)
7 personal days (it has another name – meant for additional holidays, life events, dr appts, etc)
5 “caregiving” days
10 days Compassionate/Bereavement (per event – extends to people “who are like family”, pets, and miscarriage)
Unlimited sick days
Large government contractor
8 paid holidays
3 personal days
160 hrs of PTO (one bucket)
Oops this is my first year here
Wow I thought I had pretty good leave but not compared to some folks! 27 PTO days (after a few years here, started with less). 2 “floating holidays” and 9 actual holidays. No separate sick or anything, though I worked remotely even pre pandemic so rarely take actual days due to illness. Can carry over up to I think 10 days to the next year, which I usually do so I’ve got time in the early part of the year before I “earn” more.
In-house at a tech firm. Four weeks of shut down plus unlimited leave, with guidelines to take ~1 week per quarter, but more in one go can happen with manager’s sign-off (e.g., I’m going overseas for a family wedding this winter and will be taking 2-3 weeks; boss is fine with that).
Oh, also we get I think 10 holidays.
25 days paid days off (30 when I reach 60), somewhere between 15-25 days compassionate paid days off.
25 days flexible days or half days off
Months (no idea, maybe a half year?) publicly paid compensation sick leave.
Sick leave honor system 20 days, paid.
I don’t remember but somwhere close to 9 months paid parent’s leave?
Paid leave for funerals? Kindergarten leave? There are loads of special leaves that I’ve never tried.
I’m in Scandinavia.
I did a little check – 52 weeks pulicly paid sick leave (but not 100 % pay I think), and then various grants after that if more leave is needed. Parents’ total paid eave for birth is 12 months, 15% percent is father’s exclusively, and the same for mother. Both parents can get a year each unpaid in addition, but using public kindergarten is more common.
anon for this
Federal worker with 15 years in, independent agency.
23 days annual leave (360 hours/9 weeks roll over each year). Annual leave is pre-loaded at the beginning of the year so doesn’t have to be earned to use, but if you leave midyear you have to pay back if you took more than you would have accrued.
2 personal days from my agency (use or lose by calendar year, must be taken as whole days)
10 sick days (can roll over indefinitely/no max accrual)
All federal holidays of course
2 weeks vacation – this increases with the amount of time you’re with the company
2 sick days
3 personal days
It’s a small manufacturing company. I’m the payroll manager. We have “blackout dates” where we can’t use our vacation time. (Most of December due to inventory), prepping for our annual audit, during contract negotiations. My work has to be entered every day so if I want time off, my backup person has to be there and it has to be approved that she can do my work those days. None of this was told to me during the interview process so imagine my surprise. I’m currently job hunting for this and a few other reasons.
25 days annual leave
11 paid holidays (I think, pretty close)
Entitled to up to two days a month special leave to recognize over-time/travelling etc. I generally take about 4-6 a year.
All medical appointments are on company time, so no leave taken.
One year paid mat leave (or the same amount of $ over 18 months).
Basically I take four weeks in the summer, two to three weeks at Xmas, a week in March and a couple of long weekends.
20 annual leave days a year (goes from 16 to 20 after working 5 years- from 8:40 hours/month to 10:50 hr/month) don’t expire
About 16 sick days a year (8:40 hours/month), have to start taking time once it reaches like 300 or something.
1 personal day a year (need to use by June, get new one in July)
13 court paid holidays
As long as your trials are continued and your court dates are covered, it’s fine. I’m in appeals now, so just extend what briefs you need or do beforehand. Very flexible!!
6 company-set holidays
15 days combined bucket vacation/paid/sick
It’s a combo rollover use it out lose it, you can basically max out at accumulating 2 years worth of allocation
Culturally, people tend to take it all; or at least before losing any accrual. I’d say mostly ics and managers don’t typically work while off (reply to emails, join critical meetings) but senior leadership does
I’m lucky to not need many sick days at this point in my life but it still feels pretty minimalist
Canadian provincial government here.
~18 days annual vacation (it’s allocated as hours).
5 can be rolled over.
26 earned days off (one per pay period) – work 9 longer days, 10th day is off.
no limit to sick time, although it’s paid at 75% unless you top it up with vacation hours.
all national/provincial holidays (10-11ish)
a variety of “personal” days for moving, bereavement, etc. based on circumstance.
12 months parental leave (or same amount stretched over 18 months)
Just leaving a company with unlimited vacation. Last year I took off 8 weeks. My American colleagues gave me a hard time and my European colleagues didn’t mind. I will miss the unlimited time off, but I have to get out of this toxic work environment. It’s precisely why I go on vacation every two months.
25 days PTO, can rollover up to 15 days if unused.
6 days childcare leave ( country specific)
16 weeks maternity leave (country specific, many EU nationals get more )
50 days of sick leave but frankly no one tracks it. People rarely abuse this
3 months hospitalisation leave
Public holidays of whichever country you’re based in
There are also provisions for long term sick leave say if you get cancer etc
I have worked at all sizes of firm and never had vacation days. What I have had is varying levels of tolerance of real vacation, with most of the firms really just allowing remote work (and feeling very generous about it). Even when I was at a firm with very generous allowance for remote work (pre-pandemic), my particular office manager didn’t really let us do it. This is probably a problem in a lot of smaller offices of big law firms. Now I am an income partner and no one asks where I am – monitors anything – as long as I am exceeding collections goals.
I have only been at large firms (500+ attys). I have never had vacation, sick, or PTO.
Federal government (someone may have already covered this), currently earning 6 hours of annual leave and 6 hours of sick leave per two-week pay period. There is a use-or-lose on the annual leave, I think the leave expires after 3 years? Your annual leave balance gets paid out when you leave the job (retirement or other), so I regularly see coworkers who anticipate retiring soon taking as little leave as possible. Sick leave doesn’t expire, but it doesn’t get paid out, either (which is fine). There’s a fairly generous nation-wide leave bank that you can tap into if you use up your sick leave, whereby people can donate some of their banked leave (though I have to check, I think you have to donate annual leave and can’t donate sick leave). The fact that this exists makes clear that people do use up their sick leave when you get into the more dire chronic illnesses, but I think overall it’s much better than many employers.
I am really bad about taking vacations so I have probably 3 weeks of use-or-lose accrued at this point. I also don’t have kids – I know a number of federal workers who’ve absolutely scraped to save up sick and annual leave to put together some kind of paid maternity leave before the federal maternity leave bill was passed and they regularly burn through all their leave. I and a lot of people I know with use-or-lose often just end up taking a bunch of time around the winter holidays (although I do plan on a relatively big trip later this year to use it up).
So, I get 28 days of paid time off, plus public holidays (UK-based), unlimited sick days (and if I need time off for an appointment, my manager is okay with it as long as I’m not missing anything client-facing), and it’s use it or lose it with some roll-over.
Having said that, lots of people work during holidays, in the evenings occasionally (the classic 22:30 email thread after a beach day!), but many don’t.
25 days of paid annual leave, and have the option to purchase 10 additional days annual leave if I wish. I also get the 8 public holidays paid (9 this year, for Queen’s jubilee), and also can take up to four 1 week blocks of unpaid parental leave per year (for a total of 18 weeks before child turns 18). Annual leave is use it or lose it each year, although I have negotiated some basic rollover (ie taken it on the first week of the next year etc).
What is great at my company is that the annual leave year starts on your birth month. Other places I’ve seen do it over the calendar year or financial year. This way everyone’s year isn’t up at the same time so we aren’t all fighting to book the last two weeks of March off.
In total my husband and I have been at 5 firms of over 300 lawyers each. We’ve never had vacation, sick, or PTO. That’s right — no vacation, no sick. It’s awful.
Healthcare (I’m a doctor in an outpatient-only practice)
Accrue 8 hours PTO per pay period so ~21 days per year +
12 holidays- includes our birthday and 3 anything days
PTO is vacation or sick time
Parental leave- 2 weeks…
Fun part is that we have productivity goals we are supposed to meet and they are not adjusted for PTO so if you take PTO, you likely will miss your productivity goals and then have your salary cut.