We’re leaving more vacation days on the table

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With the end of the year quickly approaching, many



workers are wondering whether they’ll get to use the vacation days they have left before losing them. While some companies allow workers to carry vacation days over into a new year, many have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy.

According to an annual Harris Interactive “Vacation Deprivation” global online survey, quite a few workers are refusing to take the time they have accrued because of their workload and their fear of being replaced if job cuts are needed during the business slowdown that normally follows the holiday season.

The survey for Expedia, the online travel service, found that the No. 1 reason workers gave for not taking the time they earned is “fear of being replaced,” followed by No. 2 “too much work.”

The study found that Americans earned 12 vacation days on average this year, two fewer than last year.  We also  earn fewer vacation days than people in most countries, but still leave two vacation days unused on average.

Workers in Germany, France, Spain and Brazil accumulated the most vacation days this year on average, around 30, according to the survey. The French and Spanish workers also were expected to take all of the vacation days.

“Europeans treat vacation as a duty rather than a perk,” Expedia said. “Most European workers have between 25 and 30 days of vacation time available to them each year.”

The Japanese, who get 13 vacation days on average, only take five of them.

Other reasons for not taking vacation days include the inability to coordinate vacations with family and friends, money problems and unreasonable bosses, many of whom expect workers to continue working while away on vacation.

The online survey of 8,687 employed adults was taken Sept. 13 to Oct. 12

Are you leaving vacation days on the table, or are you being encouraged to take them before the year is out?

15 comments Add your comment

El Mongol

December 4th, 2012
1:09 pm

If people don’t take their vacation time it is simply because they don’t want to. Some folks would rather be at work than out of town with their family as sad as it is to admit. I always use my days if nothing else take a Friday off and see a movie.


December 4th, 2012
1:33 pm

I never have and never will leave any vacation days on the table. They are mine, so I’m taking them, point blank. My employer doesn’t allow roll-over, so we have no choice but to take them. I’ve always been encouraged to use them or lose them. It also depends on who you report to, because individuals have different standards. I’ve had bosses tell me I can unofficially roll 2-3 days over, but just not announce it to everyone.

Red Rover

December 4th, 2012
1:42 pm

I started the year with 4 weeks of vacation and I currently have 11 days left. I plan to use them all!!! I can not afford to take family vacations therefore, I have plenty of days left towards the end of the year.


December 4th, 2012
1:45 pm

“Other reasons for not taking vacation days include the inability to coordinate vacations with family and friends, money problems and unreasonable bosses, many of whom expect workers to continue working while away on vacation.”

That is just BS. If you get the time off, take it. Even if you just stay at home. Anyone that would not take vacation days because they cannot coordinate time off with others is just idiotic.

DJ Sniper

December 4th, 2012
1:51 pm

I always use each and every vacation day that’s available to me. My job is pretty good about taking time off, so I don’t have much to worry about.


December 4th, 2012
1:55 pm

The reality is a lot more people telework/telecommute these days. Things they used to take vacation time to do, like housework and chores, now get done on company time. Managements know it’s happening but they mostly look the other way.

East Lake Ira

December 4th, 2012
2:25 pm

My team is told that the only way they can guarantee a poor review, which equals a lower raise, is to give back vacation days.

In my view, if you don’t take them you don’t need as much comp as you are willfully giving some back at the end of each year.

I’ve only had to ding two folks in the last eight years.


December 4th, 2012
2:30 pm

Self-employed. What is a “vacation day”?

(the other) Rodney

December 4th, 2012
2:37 pm

Use them?? I have over 5 weeks built up. We’ve downsized and offshored so much in the last year that most of us are doing the job(s) that two people used to do. My only consolation (and yes, this IS bleak) is that when I’m let go I’ll be paid for those 5 weeks along with my severance.

Road Scholar

December 4th, 2012
2:49 pm

Retired! I don’t get vacation days or holidays…rats! But when I did retire I had 2 years of forfeited time which rolled over each year. I was paroled 2 years early!

Sincerely, if I had it to do over…I would have taken more time off You need the rest/enjoyment as a reward for working hard the rest of the time.


December 4th, 2012
2:52 pm

I’ve got 27 left, but I can roll over 14


December 4th, 2012
3:04 pm

I get 20 paid vacation days, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and 10 paid holidays, and let me tell you I take every single one of them!!!

We can rollover 1/2 of what we are alloted into the next year.

Every 5 years of employment, they give us an additional 5 days PAID vacation. In January, I’ll be up to 25 PAID Vacation days.


December 4th, 2012
3:26 pm

It’s easy to dismiss people’s concerns about taking vacation time, but what if half of your co-workers lost their jobs during the last 3 years and your prospect for landing a new one (if you were to be fired) was slim because of our dismal economy? Would you lose your house? Your health insurance? Your ability to ever retire?

The reality is that the perception matters in many workplaces–regardless of whether you think it is fair, right, or just.

If you work for the state government, local government, federal government, a monopoly or union, please just disregard.


December 5th, 2012
7:46 am

Leaving vacation days on the table? Are you crazy? You WANT to spend your vacation days building someone else’s dream? Have you allowed your life to become so mundane that it’s preferable to be at work? Or, as is the case in some companies, does your workplace count days of vacation left in the bank, more is better, toward promotions/raises? in any case, when you reach retirement you’ll wish you had taken those days.


December 5th, 2012
9:44 am

I have 28 days left. I can rollover days and cash out up to 10 in February. I currently earn 6 weeks each year after being with my company for 14-1/2 years. Not too shabby I say. Also, I take days throughout the year, not officially one a month but sometimes it appears that way.