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Do Companies Punish Workers Who Take Vacations? 948

Hugh Pickens writes "Chad Brooks reports that a steady stream of research over the past year reveals that Americans aren't taking vacations and it's because they are afraid to take time off from work for fear of appearing less than dedicated to their employer with one survey showing that 70 percent of employees said they weren't using all their earned vacation days in 2011. 'You have this kind of fear of not wanting to be seen as a slacker,' says John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, an organization focused on challenging the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine facing society. De Graaf adds that while some companies are good about encouraging employees to use earned time off, there also are some that aren't worried about the potential repercussions that may come from that nose-to-the-grindstone approach. 'They think, "If I burn someone out, I can always find someone else,"' says de Graaf. 'They think [employees] are expendable.' Even when they do take vacation, research shows many employees aren't leaving their work behind. In one study, 66 percent of surveyed employees said they would check and respond to email during their time off, and 29 percent expect to attend meetings virtually while on vacation. De Graaf is not optimistic anything will ever get done to free employees of their fear of taking time off. 'This is the only wealthy country in the world that does not guarantee any paid vacation time,' says de Graaf. 'Every other country understands that this makes people healthier and creates a better workforce.'"
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Do Companies Punish Workers Who Take Vacations?

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  • the answer is yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:10PM (#38679348)

    having worked for a company that did punish employees who took vacations I can say the answer to this is yes..

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:17PM (#38679422) Homepage Journal
    Remember the office sitcom '9 to 5' ? yes, 9.00 in the morning to 05.00 in the evening. it depicted an office and the funny situations that happened in between the workers in the office. a privately owned office. it was a popular sitcom, due to depicting a lot of people's daily lives.

    the catch here, is in the name of the sitcom - '9 to 5'. you see, back 20-25 years ago, the situation in america was so that you worked in private corporations in between those hours in general. actually not only in america - it was so in many other parts of the world (maybe except japan).

    but look at it now - 7 in the evening is the normal time when work stops in almost entire private sector. in the last 25 years, somewhere in between, the hour we got out of work has gone from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and this did not happen only in america - almost any part of the world. wages ? they did not increase in proportion to inflation.

    so we are working more, (25% more on average at least), but getting paid less. and everything is ship shape, as far as the current economic system and corporations are concerned.

    would you expect paid vacations to be something that corporations would smile at, in such an environment ?
  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:19PM (#38679450)

    Almost all american workers are "At will" not contract. At will means they can be and often are fired at anytime for no reason with no prior warning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:22PM (#38679474)

    the hour we got out of work has gone from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and this did not happen only in america - almost any part of the world

    Except Europe.

  • by ryanov ( 193048 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:25PM (#38679516)

    I dunno if you knew this, but the United States is not a household.

  • by ryanov ( 193048 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:26PM (#38679534)

    And because people are working two jobs worth, meaning other people are out of work and there's less demand for everything as a result.

  • Re:the answer is yes (Score:4, Informative)

    by flosofl ( 626809 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:30PM (#38679582) Homepage
    Wow. I must be lucky in my last two jobs. At both places (both multinationals), we were encouraged to not only take our allotted time, but we were told you're on vacation you will not be called or expected to work. Most of us bring at least our phones "just in case", but I can honestly say I've never been called when taking scheduled time off.

    Of course it helps if your group or department has a well defined processes and documentation. We have redundancy and some overlap in responsibility built in so that the absence of one person will not bring the show to a screeching halt. This is even at the management level. Team leads will usually act as proxy for the vacationing manager and are empowered to make decisions in his or her absence (or course they have to justify those decisions when the manager returns...)

    So I guess at a poorly run company or department, yes you can get punished. But a well run company that has a clear strategy and well defined processes and workflows, not so much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:43PM (#38679706)


    Gov't can easily cut spending and raise revenue should they choose, or be forced to do so.

    The banks stopped lending because they got bailed out and, instead of using the bail out to stimulate growth through lending, decided to take the money and invest it elsewhere. The big banks aren't short on cash, they're refusing to lend to the small and medium businesses that urgently need it.

    The Volker rule would stop this but the banks are fighting it tooth and nail.

  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:00PM (#38679876)
    Didn't mean to imply that I work in palliative care ( although I know several who do); I just forgot the damn link []
  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:09PM (#38679992)

    but statistics also show that productivity for a group actually goes up if you fire a bad team member.

    Except now you're implying that someone who does use their vacation time and doesn't work themselves to the bone is a "bad team member".

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:21PM (#38680142) Homepage

    California law treats vacation as accrued wages. [] If you don't take your vacation days, the employer must pay you for them at the end of employment.

    Still, many employers prefer to pay than let their employees take time off.

  • by terber ( 599156 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:36PM (#38680346)

    Most comments seem to origin in the US. Some contributors may be interested in the situation in Europe. Here the data for the three biggest European economies.


    Paid Leave

    European Union requires all its member states to guarantee by law minimally four weeks of paid leave for all employees.

    Average paid holiday days per year for full-time employees in 2008:

    - Germany 30 days, plus 10.5 days public holidays

    - France 25 days, plus 11 days public holidays

    - United Kingdom 24.7 days, plus 8 days public holidays


    Working hours

    Actual average weekly work hours for full-time employees in Europe

    - United Kingdom 40,9 hours (2008)

    - Germany 38.8 hours (2010)

    - France 38,4 hours (2008)


    And no, my experience in four European countries (UK, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic) suggests that workers are not punished in any way if they take their vacations.

  • Re:Not enough (Score:5, Informative)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:38PM (#38680372)

    What kind of slave driver company would only give 2 weeks of vacation per year??? I don't know anyone that has less than 5-6 weeks per year.

    In the USA? I don't know any non-executive that has that much vacation unless they've been at the company for a long time.

    When I negotiated for my last job, I tried hard to get another week of vacation, they refused, but instead gave me 3% higher salary. I don't understand that logic at all, why refuse to give another week (2%) of vacation, trading it for a 3% bump in salary? I didn't stay there long enough to even use all of my 2 weeks of vacation due to some dissatisfaction in other areas. But at my new job, I got a firm 2 weeks (after 3 years it's 3 weeks)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:45PM (#38680462)
    Don't want to out my buddy...

    I knew a winner of a lottery (not a powerball, but we are talking a bit south of 50M). He said almost the same thing because he liked his job, and the people he worked with, and just generally thought he wanted to do something that really filled up his time.

    Fast forward a year or so, and he quit. He basically said that, sure he liked the people he worked with, but all that crap about having something to do with your time, and liking your job? total bs in the end. It became very difficult to take any sort of grief at his job, and having limited/restrictions on his movements and freedom became too much of an issue, especially with his family.

    He basically said that people who SAY that they would still work at their job are people that HAVEN'T won the lottery. You can always find things to take up your time, and you can always hang out with those coworkers you liked outside of work.

    Now? He travels 5 months of the year, owns a few businesses that he has other people to run, and does hockey bar-leagues to keep in shape, while spending all the rest of his time with his family, and watching his 3 kids grow up.
  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:47PM (#38680482)
    He would see them moved to the States, which already have employee protection laws.
  • Re:South Korea (Score:5, Informative)

    by cc_pirate ( 82470 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @09:12PM (#38680710)

    I think Japan is worse. You are expected to take NO vacation (even though the company legally HAS to give you 10 working days off). So, other than national holidays that everyone else has off, you are expected to be at work. And for extra fun, you are expected to be at the office until your boss leaves. And most Japanese bosses are 50 year old men who are estranged from their wives and hence work til 8pm at night every night to avoid having to go home.

    The only exceptions to this seem to be for getting married. Then you are typically expected to take 1-2 weeks off.

    This is my understanding after working with different companies in Japan over the past 15+ years, although I haven't worked in Japan myself. Maybe someone in Japan can give their input.

    How is S. Korea worse?

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @09:22PM (#38680820) Journal

    Sounds like you make decent money.

    A hint ... if you are in the hospital with high blood pressure and a possible heart attack then QUIT. So what if they find cost savings. Is it worth your health and to your family if you fall over dead?

    Become a consultant and work on better terms that are yours and chill. It doesn't matter how much money you make if you are alone in a big house with no wife or if you fall over dead and never spend a cent of your hard earned cash. I am just saying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @09:31PM (#38680894)

    If you're in the hospital with high blood pressure, working 18 hour days, you don't have a 'real job'. You are a slave, and the next vacation you take will be underground. You could start your own business with less stress and more control over your life. That constant threat hanging over your head is also bad for your well-being. Even if you have a family, you would do them no favours by losing your health or dropping dead.

  • Re:Not enough (Score:4, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @06:37AM (#38684002)

    I live in Europe and I have to take all my 35 days according to the law.
    No carrying over unless it's business related and even then they have to be taken before mars 31th.
    Twice a year, at least 12 days are to be taken in one piece, after all, vacation is to relax and to be fresh enough to work the job.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde