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How Much Vacation Time Do Employees Get?

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How Much Vacation Time Do Employees Get?
Image Copyright Alex Nikada
Question: How Much Vacation Time Do Employees Get?
Answer: How much vacation time do employees receive? There isn't a set amount, because employers are not required to provide vacation leave either with pay or unpaid. Some employers give vacation time to only full-time employees. Others give vacation to all employees. Still others offer pro-rated vacation, depending on your work schedule and employment status.

Employees surveyed by Adecco reported the following amounts of vacation time:

  • More than 3 weeks - 36%
  • 3 weeks - 26%
  • 2 weeks - 22%
  • 1 week or less - 16%

However, the amount of vacation time is determined by company policy, collective bargaining agreements, or even, especially in small companies, an informal agreement between an employee and management.

There are some rules that apply, however. When employers do offer vacation, it has to be offered equitably. This means that the company can't discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or other protected characteristics when giving time off from work.

Negotiating Vacation

If the company doesn't offer vacation time, you may be able to negotiate with your employer to take a certain number of days off. This would most likely be unpaid time off from work.

In addition, if you do receive paid vacation, you may be able to negotiate extra time off, on an unpaid basis if your employer is flexible. There are no guarantees, of course, but sometimes it can't hurt to put in a request.

Accrued Vacation Time

Company policy determines how employees earn vacation time. Some companies provide Paid Time Off (PTO) that accrues on a monthly basis or is based on a a certain number of hours worked. For example, employees may receive one day per month or 8 hours of leave that they can take off for any reason.

Other companies provide vacation based on years of service. In this case, the employee could be provided with a week for every year of service, up to a maximum number of weeks. If vacation is based on years of service the employee is usually eligible to take it after they have worked for a year.

Again, the amount earned depends on company policy and/or the terms of a collective bargaining agreement for covered workers.

Unused Vacation Time

Depending on company policy, employees may be required to use their vacation during a specific time period (which is known as "use it or lose it") or they may be able to carry unused vacation or PTO over to future years. If the company does allow vacation to be accrued there may be limits to how much time can be carried over.

Check Your Vacation Status

When a company is offering you a job, they should let you know how much vacation you are entitled to and when you can start taking it. If you haven't been informed, check with the Human Resources department or with the person who offered you the job. That way, you will know up front what time you will be able to take off from work.

If you're already working, check with Human Resources (the information may also be available on the company website) for clarification of your vacation status.

Law Regulating Vacation

There are no federal laws regulating vacation, however, depending on the state you reside in, vacation is considered compensation and employees must be allowed to accrue vacation or be paid for unused vacation time.

Check your State Department of Labor website for the rules in your location.

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DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is from United States and individual State government resources, from private parties, and from some non-U.S. governmental resources. I presume the governmental information, from government web sites, is correct, although I recommend you seek legal assistance if interpretation of a law is a problem. Most government websites do provide ways for you to ask questions and receive additional, personal assistance. Seek legal assistance, however, if your questions are inadequately answered, if you are uncertain, or if your situation is unusual. The private web sites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is for guidance only.

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