Compared to workers in other industrialized countries, Americans are notoriously reluctant to take time off. Unlike in the rest of the developed world, employers here have no legal obligation to give employees vacation. Getting more than two weeks is often a privilege reserved for high-ranking employees.
But it’s not all the boss’ fault. Research shows that employees pass up on 169 million vacation days every year. In fact, some bosses wish their employees would take more time off to mentally recuperate from the stresses of work.
In fact, Replicon, a maker of timesheet software, recently took a peek at vacation practices from 664 customers and found that employers hardly ever reject employee vacation requests.
Among the vacation requests Replicon tracked, less than 1 percent were rejected by supervisors. Vacation requests were most likely to be rejected during the month of October, when employers said no to 1 in 87 hours requested by employees.
Granted, the survey only tracks vacation requests that were made electronically. Presumably, workers often make a vacation request electronically only after getting verbal approval from a superior. Verbal requests may be rejected more often.
When are workers taking time off? The holidays appear to be the most popular reason to take time off — December is the top month for ditching work, accounting for 12.7 percent of vacation used. November and May follow closely on its heels, no doubt due to Thanksgiving and Memorial Day.
The industries in which workers take the most time off? Health care (14 percent), followed by education (11 percent) and media and entertainment (9 percent).
The least amount of vacation is taken in the transportation sector (2.9 percent), engineering and construction (3.4 percent) and manufacturing (4 percent).
June is the least popular vacation month, making up only 5.75 percent of paid time off. Since many kids are still in school through much of June, many workers presumably wait until July or August to hit the beach. April and October, which account for roughly 7 percent of vacation requests, are also unpopular vacation months.