In our company culture, while vacations are not exactly frowned upon, you are expected to “check in” while taking your time off. I’m tempted to book an international cruise just because my employer wouldn’t want to reimburse me for the difficult and costly Internet access! How can I convince my boss that a 100% non-working vacation is my right?
Dear, Time for a Vacation,
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the United States is the only developed country in the world without legally required paid vacation. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there is no federal law requiring employers to offer paid vacation time. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that many industrialized nations offer mandated paid vacation and holidays ranging from 10 to 38 days! France leads the pack with 30 paid vacation days and one paid holiday. Austria offers 25 paid vacation days plus 13 paid holidays. Even the hard-working Japanese are entitled to 10 paid vacation days per year. (I think it’s time to write your Congressperson.)
In the U.S., paid vacation time off is a benefit, not a right. Granted, it is a very popular benefit; a recent survey by Glassdoor indicates that 78% of employees receive vacation or paid time off.
That being said, if your employer does offer paid vacation, here’s some ammunition to encourage a clean break. Vacations can make workers more productive. The Oxford Economics February 2014 study, “An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S.,” cites statistics that 48% of managers viewed the impact of time off on productivity as positive. Further, managers believe employees who take time off have an improved attitude and better performance at work. A study conducted by former NASA scientists for Air New Zealand found that there is an 82 percent spike in performance among those who’ve just returned from vacation. In a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)/U.S. Travel Association study, a large majority of HR professionals think taking vacation is extremely or very important for performance, morale, wellness, a positive culture, productivity, retention, and creativity. Forbes reports that “job-related stress contributes to absenteeism, lost productivity, and health issues, and these factors cost businesses approximately $344 billion annually.” Vacations can neutralize job-related stress.work-life balance, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the United States ranks 25 out of 36 countries (with Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway in the top three spots).
Tips for Leaving On Vacation
- Don’t schedule your vacation during the busiest season in your company. That won’t go over well.
- Give your employer as much notice as possible, right after you click the “Book Now” button on that travel site.
- Negotiate how often you will check emails or voicemail. If you’re only expecting one important email midweek, offer to respond on that project only. If your boss wants more input, check your phone or email once a day.
- Try to get as much of your work done before you leave so you only have to delegate a few tasks to co-workers.
- Set up a meeting with the person who is covering you to go over last-minute instructions.
- Give your contact information to one gatekeeper, preferably your boss or your coverage person.
- Don’t forget to change your outgoing phone message and set up an out of office automatic reply for your emails.
- Finally, enjoy yourself and come back to work refreshed!