Paid Vacation Rights for Employees and How They are Changing the Workplace

Employee Rights - October 21, 2022
An image of a person at a computer thinking about taking a vacation.

The United States is one of the only developed countries that doesn’t require employers to guarantee paid vacation days.

While employers have the right to set vacation days with employees according to their own policies and discretion, there are rules they must follow. In this chapter, we’ll discuss what paid vacation is, which employees receive it, and the relevant rules.

What’s paid vacation?

Paid vacation is a benefit that some employers offer to an employee or independent contractor allowing them to take time off from work with pay. Employers may offer paid vacation as part of an employee’s benefits package or as part of their salary.

It’s not required by law, but some employers offer it as a way to attract and retain employees—Paid Time Off (PTO), which includes both vacation days and sick days, is one of the most popular employee benefits.

How paid vacations benefit employees

Paid vacations give employees a chance to recharge and refresh. They can also use vacation days to take care of personal business or spend time with family and friends.

And paid vacations may help improve an employee’s productivity. A study by the Families and Work Institute found that employees who took more vacation days were more likely to report higher job satisfaction and less likely to leave their jobs.

Finally, taking advantage of paid vacation days can help employees avoid burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can be caused by work-related stress. Symptoms of burnout include cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

Which employees get vacation—and how much?

Private Industry Workers' Number of Annual Paid Vacation Days chart

Usually, only full-time employees receive paid time vacation. Part-time employees may not work enough hours to receive this benefit and independent contractors aren’t typically eligible for any company benefits. On average, employees receive 10-14 days of vacation time.

Ultimately, every company has its own vacation policy. Some employers have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy, which means that employees must take their vacation days or they forfeit them. Other employers allow employees to carry over their unused vacation days into the next year.

Still, other employers have unlimited vacation policies, which give employees more flexibility in how they use their time off. With this type of policy, employees may take as much vacation as they want, but they may also be expected to work more hours or be on call when they’re not on vacation.

Rules on using vacation time

If your employer offers paid vacation, there are some rules you’ll need to follow. For example, most employers require employees to give advance notice before taking their days. This gives the employer time to plan around the employee’s absence.

In addition, employers may have blackout dates when employees are not allowed to take a vacation. These dates are typically during times when the company is busy or understaffed, like during the holiday season.

Finally, employers may require employees to use their vacation days within a certain timeframe. For example, an employee may have to use their vacation days within the calendar year or they may expire after a certain number of months.

Have your employment rights been violated?

Paid vacation is a great benefit that some employers offer and they stipulate how you can use it. Did you follow the rules for a chance to recharge and now you feel you’re being harassed or discriminated against? Standup for justice and know your rights by consulting with an experienced LegalShield lawyer who can answer your employment right questions.


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