40% of Americans Fail To Take Their Vacation Time -
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40% of Americans Fail To Take Their Vacation Time

In a shocking and depressing indication of the state of many

people’s working lives, a new study from the US Travel Association suggests

that as many as four in ten US workers fail to take their full complement of

holiday days each year.

The study found that the average American missed out on an

average of 5.7 days of approved vacation time per year, largely due to the

feeling of being overworked in their employment. Despite being given the

opportunity to take vacation, it seems, many workers find that in reality they

simply have too much to achieve in order to keep their growing workloads under


While some companies allow employees to “roll over” unused

vacation time to subsequent years, many place a cap on the total number of days

that may be carried over, or a limit on how many times days may carried over

from one year to the next. The end result of this is that some employees are

essentially working for free each year; feeling unable to take vacation time

due to work pressures yet losing these untaken days at the end of the holiday


In cases where companies do allow employees to roll over

vacation time they’re opening themselves up for considerable liabilities that

may be cashed in in the future. It has been estimated that US companies are now

on the hook for liabilities of $224 billion for unused vacation days that

workers may choose to cash out in the future. Worse, the problem is far from

improving; this liability actually grew by over $60 billion in the last 12

months alone.

This is equivalent to $1898 in outstanding time off payments

per employee.

Even more depressingly, a separate study by Alamo Rent A Car

found that half of the Americans surveyed claimed they struggled to switch off

while on vacation. Many people seem to feel it necessary to “check in” with the

office either by phone or email on a regular basis in order to ensure that

everything is running smoothly. Possibly even more depressingly 25% of those

surveyed said they did at least some work every single day of their vacation.

Which begs the question; what really is the point of going

on vacation if you’re still working – if only from a different “office”.

Increasingly psychologists are claiming that workers who

refuse to unwind and take time away from their work commitments are risking

their health. Burnouts are, after all, far more commonplace in workaholics.

Worse, in cases where this occurs it can cost employers considerable money in

lost time and productivity, waiting for employees to come back off sick leave.

This situation then seems like a pot waiting to boil over;

employees working themselves into the ground, while employers are saddled with

ever more liabilities for outstanding vacation time and/or staff sickness. The

message is clear: if you have vacation time allotted to you, do whatever you

can to take it – for everyone’s good.

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