Most Americans Use Just Half Their Vacation Days
And 61% of Americans say they work on vacation
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2014 10:07 AM CDT
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 photo, rush hour commuters crowd a subway platform at the Woodside station in Queens, N.Y.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(Newser) – The US is the only developed country in the world that doesn't require its workers to have access to paid vacation. While those in the European Union are guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days a year (and 25 or even 30 days in some countries), most Americans get about 10 paid days a year and use only half, according to a new survey reported in MarketWatch. And of those actually on vacation, 61% confess to working while vacationing, with one in four saying they were contacted by a colleague and one in five saying they were contacted by a boss.

Things were apparently better in 1976 when 9 million Americans took a week of vacation in July, reports Vox. This past July, even with 60 million more Americans employed than in 1976, only 7 million took a week off. Some calculations put just 56% of workers taking a weeklong vacation in a given year, a figure that used to be as high as 80%. Top reasons for people taking less vacation time are less accrual of days and fear of hurting one's career or place at work. "That's not healthy," writes Scott Martelle in the LA Times. (Check out how many Americans don't get any paid vacation at all.)

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Ezekiel 25:17
Aug 22, 2014 9:09 AM CDT
Out of college, I was at Hertz for a year. They had me bid on the first and last six months for a week off. You listed six possible weeks in those periods. You were then awarded that week per 6 months. Tiny winy problem happened. I bought my trip tickets, book a nice Hertz van for like $100 per week (with CDW), and bought event tickets. The Monday of the Friday before my vacation started my supervisor comes to me and says, "Sorry, we cancelled your vacation, we moved it to your second choice." I told them about the tickets and they said, "Wow, that sucks to be you, loosing all that money. Next time you'll learn not to do that." So I went to the section director and she said, "Not my problem." I then called in a favor from a friend who's mom was a SVP in Park Ridge. She was appalled at what they did. Next thing I know I'm being called in by the national VP of reservation division and he told me to never go over his head again and I could go on my vacation. I told him not to worry, I wasn't hanging around very long. I told the SVP how bad this office was ran and I was headed out. I told him that my SVP buddy was very interested in hearing all the bad crap happening here and she was probably going to book a flight here very soon. He said, "I don't give a crap, I'm retiring in a couple months so your friend can't hurt me." I told him "I'll be sure to tell her that when I see her in a couple weeks." While I was on vacation, my buddy called and said his mom made a sneak visit to the reservations center. She fired the top three people and he was included. I guess his plan to retire got moved up very fast.
Aug 21, 2014 11:18 PM CDT
I barely made it through six months by the time my vacation days were used up. Long stretch without a holiday between New Years and Memorial Day.
Aug 21, 2014 1:02 AM CDT
I can accrue as much as 240 hours before I stop earning vacation hours. I prefer to keep time in the bank as a hedge against an injury or extended sick leave. Our disability coverage is 70%. I can use the vaca hours to supplement that if I need it. Sure, I'd like to take the time, but if needed I could never afford an extended leave without that supplement. I'll be taking 5 days this month and cashing in 5 days for $$ and I'll still be sitting at about 120 after all is said and done in 1 or 2 more pay periods. Then, I'll start building up hours for time off again next year. This is on top of accrued sick time of 90 hours. In a couple more years I will have more time earned per pay period so I will be taking even more time off while still holding hours in the bank. 17 days a year isn't too bad of a deal, especially with the banking roll-over and cash-in options.