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Do Companies Punish Workers Who Take Vacations?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the you've-been-missing-a-lot-of-work-lately dept.

Businesses 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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Frettin' over the grindstone (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679288)

It's very important to me to be able to fuck off from my job. I skip out early, I take days off, I ignore phone calls after hours. As long as I get the job done during the day, I don't care what people think. I am a slacker, and I enjoy it. Life's too short to fret over the grindstone. Don't take life too seriously!

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (5, Insightful)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679364)

My personal view is that when I'm on my death bed, I don't think I'll be wondering, "I wish I had more time, to work."

If you enjoy your job, then why not? (1, Offtopic)

Brannon (221550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679526)

If you don't enjoy your job, then that sucks.

Re:If you enjoy your job, then why not? (5, Insightful)

cdp0 (1979036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679596)

If you don't enjoy your job, then that sucks.

How many people do you think really enjoy their jobs ?! The only reason many people work is simply for the paycheck.

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679540)

That all depends on how strong your desire is to get something done. I suspect many people who thought they had some great breakthrough to offer to the world, yet were never able to make it happen, did in fact have that exact regret on their death bed.

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (1, Funny)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679656)

Then you don't have the right job.

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (3, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679680)

Which is borne out by the experiences of this palliative care nurse; I can't say for certain that "I should have spent more time at the office", "I wish I'd been a better employee" or "I wanted to be company president" didn't make the list but none are in the top 5.

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679550)

I agree. I take my vacations because I'm not giving away my work for free (yes, they won't pay twice those days if you work on them). So if I'm going to lose rest, and not being paid for it, why should I do it? If the company can afford training someone else really quick and replace me, well fine.

Now

Even when they do take vacation, research shows many employees aren't leaving their work behind.

I do try to stay alert, because I don't want to come back to know that I forgot something important. So I'll check some e-mail just to keep me informed, and if I'm within reach and able to do so. I enjoy my vacations, but I'm not irresponsible you know?

Re:Frettin' over the grindstone (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679566)

What's more, even corporations who think that employee happiness doesn't matter because they can just hire someone else are just hurting themselves. Conservatively, it costs about 100k in upfront cost to hire someone. That can quickly balloon to one million if we're talking about skilled workers with specialized in-house knowledge. Heck, even a burger flipper or a maid costs money to hire - all that HR paperwork for terminating people and hiring people doesn't happen on its own.

All I can see when people are arguing that it's ok for companies to do this is people who don't know how to run efficient operations. Quite frankly, if the company has that attitude, please do fire me, because the company is one disaster or efficient competitor away from oblivion..

they punish employees, period (0, Troll)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679314)

companies barely need excuses to punish employees anymore, they can just do it to keep the others in line.

but it gets better, though. if ron paul had his way, companies would effectively own their employees (to an even greater extent than they already do) and punish them more severely with no chance of the employees being able to do anything reactionary to it.

Re:they punish employees, period (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679334)

Who needs Ron Paul? The frontrunner is a venture capitalist.

Re:they punish employees, period (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679420)

You can hate Ron Paul all you want and think he is a far right wing radical (he is), but he is right!

Seriously, the government, consumers, and banks have lived beyond their means. The only growth is consumption caused by yet more debt. Student loans are too high due to the government handing them out like candy enslaving the students in debt when they are done, which in return causes higher demand for employers to request degreed candidates and so on.

The best solution is to go into a depression, raise taxes high, cut spending, sell off Alaska and most of the US assets, cut military pay, for a decade or so. No one but Paul would have the balls for such a radical solution but it is no different htan anyone one of use with a family with LOTS of debt, loss of income, and risk of beig foreclosed or repoed. If you do not lower your lifestyle, sell your shit, and work 2 jobs for several years the bank will do all that for you on their terms rather than yours.

Ron Paul is honest and gives answers no one wants to hear.

Re:they punish employees, period (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679464)

We could just tax the rich and reduce our defense spending. Ron Paul would never do that, he would prove to be just as owned by the rich as the rest of them.

Re:they punish employees, period (0)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679604)

The rich are rich in part because they investigate how taxes work, and use them to save money. Try to squeeze the rich, and they'll just move their wealth to where it is most beneficial to them, and you end up with zero taxes from more of them. "Tax the rich" is simple but incorrect.

Now, reducing defense spending is fine, and that's actually a large part of Paul's platform from what I've seen. I think he's said that the largest portion of the trillion dollar cut he wants to do comes from stopping the current military actions.

Re:they punish employees, period (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679658)

I mean close all the loopholes. Including moving out of the country. If they ever want to come back to visit family they will owe that tax bill. The rich are rich because they bribe politicians to make loopholes for them.

I doubt any sane person objects to cutting fruitless wars.

Re:they punish employees, period (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679610)

Then you have nothing to lose by voting for him.

Re:they punish employees, period (3, Informative)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679516)

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

Re:they punish employees, period (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679518)

if ron paul had his way, companies would effectively own their employees (to an even greater extent than they already do) and punish them more severely with no chance of the employees being able to do anything reactionary to it.

Please expound on that premise, replete with valid sourcing, or be thoroughly shunned.

Re:they punish employees, period (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679686)

I believe he means libertarian policies would lead to a new age of robber-barons. With government protection employers would abuse employees even more is probably his thought.

Personally, I agree. The employer has too much power compared to the employee without some sort of group action, either government or unions.

Fascist America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679346)

Just another facet of the fascism that is the corporatised USA.

We love the 1%.

the answer is yes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679348)

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

Re:the answer is yes (1)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679378)

Don't feel too bad, I worked for a company that punished employees for working overtime to get things out on time. They finally solved the problem by making all IT staff salary.

So it goes both ways.

Re:the answer is yes (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679412)

I can imagine that if they were actually paying overtime, but I'd be more surprised about companies that fired or denied promotions to salaried staff for working unpaid overtime.

Re:the answer is yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679548)

yeah unfortunately this same company also didn't pay managers or IT department workers overtime, and expected their salaried workers to be willing to work 80 hour work weeks....... This same company then back in 2009 had big company meetings stating that due to the bad economy we're going to make all salaried employees take 1 full week of unpaid time off.. Yeah that would have been well and good, but then they wouldn't let the IT department employees actually take the time off but this didn't stop them from docking our pay... When I raised hell about it and was allowed to take my unpaid time off they got upset because I had turned my company phone off and was unreachable... Hey if you're not paying me for the day and I'm on furlough I'm not answering my company phone, you don't get to not pay me and also expect me to be on call....... Yeah I wound up losing this job a couple of months later, but It was time for me to get the hell out of there anyways, and I'm much happier at my current job as a datacenter admin.

Re:the answer is yes (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679592)

yeah unfortunately this same company also didn't pay managers or IT department workers overtime, and expected their salaried workers to be willing to work 80 hour work weeks....... This same company then back in 2009 had big company meetings ....

Which one of the too many?

Re:the answer is yes (4, Insightful)

alcourt (198386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679466)

Similar situation here, though maybe not so obvious.

Officially, we are ordered to take all scheduled vacation days, required to schedule them early in the year.

In reality, we are expected to attend meetings, check email, and do work while on vacation, despite official policy prohibiting such. Anyone who doesn't work at least five to ten hours of overtime per week is "not being a team player" and "not understanding the significance of the priority of the project." Supervising managers are expected to frequently work twelve hour days or more, and a vacation day means that they might only work eight hours that day, attending meetings, responding to email, etc.

Re:the answer is yes (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679480)

Find a new job. Conspire with your coworkers to make sure as many people as possible leave at once. If you make the lesson painful enough they will learn it.

Re:the answer is yes (4, Insightful)

flosofl (626809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679620)

Exactly. Any company or department or group that actually needs any one person to actually get stuff done is one that will eventually crater and crater hard. It shows they lack focus and have no defined processes or perhaps even lack documentation and definitions of roles and responsibilities. Good companies have some level of redundancy built in so the absence of any one person does not bring things to a screeching halt.

Re:the answer is yes (2)

alcourt (198386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679660)

That's being taken care of for us by upper management laying off large percentages of technical workers in a manner designed to destroy morale.

Management has already lost several truly key people to their attitudes. They just instructed those who were still around to pick up the slack.

Re:the answer is yes (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679522)

There are those who are afraid, and there are those who think their job is just short term. I've found that by giving a 90 day notice of an upcoming vacation tends to make the more nervous bosses less so. I follow up every 30 days stating in my email, that on such and such a date I'll be taking some time off. Because of doing business this way, I have gotten many, "hello, and welcome back's" from the bosses above me. I think that some folks take it personally that sometimes when a person isn't back, that that person quit. A person that is well liked in the company that just quits causes their X-Boss to look like a jerk. So the reaction by the X-Boss is to be a jerk. I've noticed that it's only the very naive minion, and those that get the biggest share of money that sometimes enjoy a little to much their lack of humanity.

I did that once (5, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679662)

There are those who are afraid, and there are those who think their job is just short term. I've found that by giving a 90 day notice of an upcoming vacation tends to make the more nervous bosses less so. I follow up every 30 days stating in my email, that on such and such a date I'll be taking some time off.

I even reminded the Management that they'd need to assign someone to cover for me early enough for me to bring my stand-in up to speed. No action.

As we got down to the last few weeks before I was scheduled to leave, my immediate manager started dropping hints that this wasn't a good time to be out of the office. I replied that that was why it was important to have someone cover for me.

About a week before I'm scheduled for time off, I get called into a meeting with every suit above me right up to the senior VP. They go on at great length about how important the work I'm doing is, how critical etc. to the Company, and what a poor time it will be for me to be gone. I make understanding noises. Finally they ask me if I'm going to reschedule my time off. I tell them that we have travel booked, hotels, all that.

They then dial up the "we really, really, really need you here" stuff. So I fold: "Well, if that's how it is we'll just have to tell the wedding guests they're on their own and call off the wedding." Silence.

I'm reliably informed that the partying at the reception went on nearly till dawn. We weren't there.

Re:the answer is yes (3, Informative)

flosofl (626809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679582)

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.

I just got back from a job fair today (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679350)

Everyone was excited about how the economy is screaming and moving forward with 3x more postings than last year! ... the jobs were all insurance selling door to door, hotel maids, cocktail waitressing, etc. This was a professional job fair too and only one of the 40 employers had anything over 30k a year!

In that environment would you want to risk your job? Hell no! If I were making 50k a year I would feel fucking rich and be greatful to work 12 hours a day. In that environment where these poor saps would do anything to take your job to feed your kids you have to suck it up. This isn't 1999 anymore.

I remember 12 years ago when I was young, that many people called in sick once a month or took a vacation Friday etc. These folks got laid off in 2001 as soon as the shit hit hte fan. Until the economy improves and there are more jobs than applicants this will continue. In addition with Europe at risk of going into a full great depression if the banking system collapses I would say there is considerable risk right now. Even if the US economy is adding more low wage jobs now than before this will sharply reverse if citigroup, chase, and BOA all go out of business once every bank in Europe also collapses too. It is very serious until governments learn to live within their means.

Re:I just got back from a job fair today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679398)

This has little to do with governments living within their means. The bankers poisoned the well and what's worse, they appear to have got away with it. Their money has seen to that. Meanwhile, everybody else is suffering.

Re:I just got back from a job fair today (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679508)

Wrong.

This has everything to do with the governments living beyond their means. Where did that money come from? From us and the banks. With high debt they stopped lending which caused businesses to stop or retract spending and investment. This in return laid off workers who then cut back and could not pay back their loans. Because they could not pay back their loans the banks responding by cutting again until a complete meltdown in 2008.

As a result 20 million Americans who had these 40,000 a year jobs 10 years ago are working at Walmart going further and further down the hole each month in debt and would be happy to do your job for 30%, be abused with a smile, never take off, etc. They wont he lotto and do not care they are underpaid.

Now you Mr. AC are at the mercy of the boss or you will be the one at Walmart next unless you are very highly skilled far beyond the general public. If the banks collapse in Europe people's retirements, 401ks, life savings, and employers line of credit to pay their wages all vanish out of thin air. Try 20 million more layoffs in 6 months! Very scary indeed

Re:I just got back from a job fair today (5, Insightful)

tbf (462972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679428)

> Until the economy improves and there are more jobs than applicants this will continue

Ever considered U.S. economy is in deep shit because of its workers being overworked, exhausted, because they learned to keep low profile.
ever considered insufficient loyalty from employers results in insufficient loyalty from employees?

Re:I just got back from a job fair today (3, Informative)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:I just got back from a job fair today (1)

tbf (462972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679618)

sure someone working 12hrs a day is producing two jobs' worth? i'd rather bet on 2/3 worth of a rested, relaxed worker.
maybe even just 1/2 worth of a positively motivated worker.

Re:I just got back from a job fair today (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679646)

Hell no! If I were making 50k a year I would feel fucking rich and be greatful to work 12 hours a day. In that environment where these poor saps would do anything to take your job to feed your kids you have to suck it up. This isn't 1999 anymore.

Congratulations, you're well on the way to becoming a citizen of the 3rd world. Someone else will be greatful to take 40k a year to work 14 hours a day. Someone else will beat them to the job as 30k to live on site and do 16hr shifts 7 days a week would be a huge step up for them. And someone else will be fine taking 20k to do that work.

This is why guaranteed working conditions are necessary. Without minimums competition doesn't drive wealth, it drives a race to the bottom. Booms are the exception, not the rule.

Time famine? Really??? (4, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679358)

Oh FFS - can we please stop diluting the important words in our language? It kind of skews people's perspective of actual famine. #getoffmylawn

Re:Time famine? Really??? (1)

SpongeBob Hitler (1848328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679410)

Oh FFS - can we please stop diluting the important words in our language? It kind of skews people's perspective of actual famine. #getoffmylawn

But, because of pirates dealing in so much stolen wares, they are handing out time famine by the bucket. If this goes on, we'll have a tsunami of time famine, whose earthquake will wreck the homes we have built.

Harddrive holocaust (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679454)

Tell me about it.
The harddrive holocaust last year threw us into a great data-storage depression; Can't even get a 1TB drive for under $100.

Psychological Slavery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679360)

If it ever gets this bad, please shoot me! :0)

Quoth the Expert... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679366)

'Every other country understands that this makes people healthier and creates a better workforce.'"

No, every other country isn't ruled by supersized multinational corporations who can co-opt every government process, override any legal review, and sidestep any political controversy, if they pay enough. America's government can be properly classified now as "Dollar." That, right there, is what is causing the problem -- it's not that the government doesn't understand, it's that the government doesn't care.

Re:Quoth the Expert... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679434)

I am from that other country and don't understand those communist/socialist/left-wing/whatever rules. Actually I am boycotting and sabotaging them every day. I hope one day my country will get out from EU and will be more like USA, not like USSR.

Re:Quoth the Expert... (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679546)

You boycott having more vacation?

You are free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679554)

You are free to not take any vacations days if you choose to do so. The rules are only so that you can take some vacations days. So I am happy about the freedom to chose (I took 11 out of my 20 days of vacation last year), than being without any protection if I want to take the full 20 days this year.

Please enlighten me why this in any way a negative thing compared to the US?

Re:Quoth the Expert... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679520)

Take a deep breath, walk up the stairs and out the door. Look at how bright and beautiful it is, it's called outside. You really should go there more often.

Re:Quoth the Expert... (4, Interesting)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679552)

It is the new U.S.A: a government by the people who have money for maintaining ownership of the people who dont have money. Figure out a way to become the highest campain donor or support a candidate that works cheaper. [/snark]

Re:Quoth the Expert... (4, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679614)

I don't think its the corporations this time, its the MBA "executives" and the general attitude that the populace falls into 2 broad categories: "them and their mates", and "the little people".

In essence, it means they think they do so much, are so under-rewarded, exceptionally talented, and deserve everything the world has for them, and also that the little people (ie you n me) are just replaceable peasants they can grind into the ground if they haven't already started to replace us with outsourced 'resources'.

The whole western world needs to shrink the difference in equity between the tiers of the workforce. Someone getting a million dollar bonus didn't do anything to deserve that more than the baker who made his sandwiches did that day. Until we start to solve that, all the abuses and failed economics will continue to thrive.

Dear Hugh: (2)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679370)

While my job is largely production based, the unemployment rate is currently 8.5%

I think most people would rather not be seen as being in the bottom 50% of workers where they are for fear of layoffs or any sort of cutback.

I think most people would rather take a small increase in work-stress to forgo a lot of financial related stress down the road.

It's important to set precedent early. (1, Insightful)

Lashat (1041424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679372)

If you are capable and organized then your vacation time will be taken and your area of ownership will not suffer.

Understanding, capable, and organized bosses are also a huge help.

Re:It's important to set precedent early. (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679500)

Understanding, capable, and organized bosses are also a huge help.

I think I found your problem...

Re:It's important to set precedent early. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679524)

Unless your "understanding, capable, organized boss" has one just like that, and he or she another above, and so on up to as high as any decision on initiating layoffs might go, then I agree with CaptainPatent when he says "most people would rather not be seen as being in the bottom 50% of workers where they are for fear of layoffs or any sort of cutback."

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679374)

USA USA USA!

Seriously though, what the hell is wrong with you guys? I live in Canada right beside you, and I'd get outright hostile at an interview if I was told there wasn't guaranteed vacation. I've never worked at a place that hasn't outright forced you to take vacation days. Literally, if you don't book them, they will book off arbitrary days towards the end of the year if they haven't been booked.

Re:Obligatory (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679446)

This generally happens without the law mandating it. Looking at the vacation setup is really important for selecting a job; any company who wishes to hire competent people will offer a decent package including sane vacation.

I know many single people who simply work because that's what they do, and at the end of the year their bosses get on their case to take vacations so that the budgeting works out properly.

Why does the law have to meddle in this?

Re:Obligatory (1)

alcourt (198386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679536)

The problem isn't that vacation days are scheduled "on paper", but that people don't actually take those vacations, or don't feel like they are allowed to take them for real.

Companies schedule vacation days now because it's carried as a fiscal impact on their statements. I'm waiting for companies to explicitly require "vacation" to be scheduled evenly throughout the year. Have ten days vacation? Must take 3 days by April 30, 5 days by June 30, etc. Of course this would be combined with being expected to continue to respond to emails during those scheduled days off.

Re:Obligatory (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679590)

Yeah they offer it then write you up when you use it or give you 4 hours of work to do a day and virtual meetings to attend to while you are on vacation. Lol

One former employer did just that. They would threaten to terminate you if you took off again regardless that it was advertised. Worse they are paid vacations too after a year. This means you work 5 days for free or else you are fired unless it was a very good reason. That was a shitty employer. Their argument was due to the economy you may not go on vacation and can be replaced easily.

I worked with people from Denmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679376)

Those guys have mandatory vacation periods several weeks long. I envied that guy getting to take his vacation in the middle of crunch time.

So what's the answer? (2)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679380)

The summary provides a lot of info on how employees view the situation, but it completely lacks any type of proof on whether or not companies are actually punishing workers for using vacation time. The part at the end about the U.S. being the only nation that doesn't guarantee vacation time is a red herring because if an employee has an employment contract that provides a certain amount of vacation time per year, then I would hazard to guess that being punished for actually using that vacation time would be a breech of contract.

Re:So what's the answer? (3, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:So what's the answer? (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679470)

I would hazard to guess that being punished for actually using that vacation time would be a breech of contract.

And what are you going to do, take them to court? It'll cost you more in time and money than you'll get back. That's assuming they didn't add a shiny new "binding arbitration clause" that allows them to force you to take your complaint to an arbiter they choose and have the case decided in their favor, handily.

Re:So what's the answer? (1)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679488)

The summary provides a lot of info on how employees view the situation, but it completely lacks any type of proof on whether or not companies are actually punishing workers for using vacation time. The part at the end about the U.S. being the only nation that doesn't guarantee vacation time is a red herring because if an employee has an employment contract that provides a certain amount of vacation time per year, then I would hazard to guess that being punished for actually using that vacation time would be a breech of contract.

Generally it includes some language about the use of vacation that it has to be scheduled in accordance with schedules and supervisor approval etc. which . . . complicates matters.

Re:So what's the answer? (3, Interesting)

shurikt (734896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679528)

Hi. I'm an employer. I have 85 employees. I *want* them to take their time off. We converted from Sick/Vacation to "Paid time off" to give healthy employees even more vacation days than they would otherwise get. At the end of the year, some of that PTO expires, and for several of my employees -- some of it always does. So it might not be a big-bad-corporation-problem, but more of a employee-work-ethic-problem. Should I *force* my over-dedicated employees to go home at 5 or to take vacations without bringing the iPhone?

Re:So what's the answer? (2, Insightful)

nigelo (30096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679636)

Yes.

Re:So what's the answer? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679602)

No one is ever officially punished for taking vacation time.

If you go away on your (earned) vacation, maternity leave, whatever, and it turns out that your job can be done by someone else, worse still, done better, you will come back and find yourself laid off 'for lack of work'.

That's not the US. That's just business. Everywhere. Without union protection that's worse, and the US it's relatively easy to fire/lay off people. But not that much easier.

Re:So what's the answer? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679648)

That is BS!

Look at China? People at Foxconn today threatened mass suicide if they did not provide better working conditions at a plant that makes Microsoft's Xbox controllers.

They work 16 hours a day and children are included in the work force. Many are beatened and locked in and can never leave. This is normal life in China and they would love to work just 10 hours a day like in the US. Sure the US is not like France, but is HELL of a lot better than Pakistan, China, or Vietnam. Hell these people walk 3 hours a day to work for just $.80 an hour! They feel they are the lucky ones too.

Also look at France right now? If you are under 30 it is very hard to find work. No one wants to hire them. Can't fire them, have to pay them not to work aka vacation, and many multinational corporations just move to Switzerland where the folks are not lazy and work hard. My brother works for FedEX and they just built a totally unmanned (close to it) in Denmark with robots. They tried to hire local people but they all wanted vacations and protections from being fired etc.

Americans are more attractive to employers for these reasons even if they are very expensive. With a global economy you will find someone always willing to work harder for less. France is reforming now with a large angry populace but this maybe the new thing for the next 50 years or so until India and China get used to vacations and higher standards of living. Until the meantime back to the old way of working 1800s style 12 hours a day 6 days a week.

Re:So what's the answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679652)

I have been working computer related jobs since the late 70's I have worked for fortune 50 companies and tiny companies. The paper work I signed each time ( if there was any) always said it was NOT a contract.

Usually in all uppercase!

It's a cultural thing, no big deal. (4, Interesting)

Brannon (221550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679384)

Different cultures have different attitudes about work/life balance. I get the shakes if I'm away from work for more than a couple days.

Over here everyone has 5 weeks, minimum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679386)

Where I live we have 25 days of paid leave every year by law, i.e. five full weeks. People in white collar jobs typically have 6-7 weeks (employers use this to attract employees). Where I work I think the lowest number of days is 28 and then you get more with age up to about seven weeks worth of time of per year. Oh, and we only work 40 hours per week and we certainly don't take work home or with us when we go on vacation.

Not enough (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679414)

It's not that I feel like I can't take vacation, but with only 2 weeks/year, I feel like I need to save it for something special. If I had 4 weeks (or more), I'd be more likely to take more little trips here and there or even use vacation as a personal day to stay home, but as it is, I try to save up my vacation for a big trip.

I'd rather that my company moved to a paid time off pool for both sick and vacation days since I so rarely use sick days.

Yes. and its even worse. (5, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679422)

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 ?

Re:Yes. and its even worse. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Yes. and its even worse. (1)

alcourt (198386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679576)

We did it the opposite direction, the starting hour has moved back to 07:00 or earlier for some. Then around 17:00-18:00 you take an hour or two off for dinner, and if anything is remotely important, are often expected to work at least one more hour.

Re:Yes. and its even worse. (2)

Feynman (170746) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679670)

7 in the evening is the normal time when work stops in almost entire private sector

Where do you work (location, industry)?

I've been in the electronics industry for almost 15 years in the Midwest and have rarely seen engineers work until 7 PM, nor 12 hour days, except in rare bursts.

(I've long suspected that many workers overestimate the amount of time they spend at the office . . . or at least engaged in productive work.)

Not what they taught us in college (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679442)

I was always told that it looked bad if you didn't use all of your vacation. People that never go on vacation usually have something to hide (a mistake they don't want others finding out about). The only reason I don't use all of my vacation is that I'd rather cash in as much of it as possible to pay off those pesky student loans.

Re:Not what they taught us in college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679586)

What kind of strange college did you go to? Instead of trying to pay those loans, maybe ask for a refund.

Lots of completely normal people don't take vacation, many use a day here and there to extend weekends. I personally think one should use all their vacation, the tiny % you get reimbursed is hardly worth it. See the world.

Hell Yes! (2)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679452)

I take all my days every year, and I've got 28 PTO days per year on top of the usual holidays. Yes, I work in the US for a major corporation, but not to take your vacation days is ripping yourself off.

No they don't (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679456)

My company forces its employees to take vacations, because "banked" vacation time must be paid in full when employee leaves the company, and it can get very expensive to pay out a few month's worth of paychecks on top of losing a valuable resource. Now, having your work pile up while you're on vacation because there is no headcounts to replace you while you're away, is a while other issue.

Re:No they don't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679600)

You must live in one of those postcommunist, ugly and populated by left-wing idiots countries. I hope that my country will become conservative one day and will get rid off that stupid communist law from 1974 and crackpots supporting it.

Fraud prevention (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679472)

Mandatory vacations are supposed to be one of the first lines of fraud prevention at all companies. People who commit frauds at companies by doctoring the books are unable to do so while they are on vacation, and so the discrepencies in the accounts show up when they are not at their desk for a couple of weeks. US corporations are, once again, opening themselves wide open to fraud by not requiring mandatory vacations of their employees.

Not where I'm from (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679484)

In a country with laws giving everyone 4 weeks paid leave and 10 public holidays a year employees get pressured to take their leave, as leave balances are liabilities on their books. If employees work on a public holiday they are usually given a day in leiu and paid time and a half or double time. I feel a bit short changed being a contractor and getting absolutely nothing but the much bigger pay cheque more than makes up for it.

good to break (4, Interesting)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679496)

It's unhealthy to work non-stop and it can't be good for your work. I always come back feeling recharged. Occasionally a colleague has had significant holiday remaining at the year-end and our bosses certainly weren't applauding, they told them to take it ASAP.

Employees not taking holidays is also a known fraud risk. Employees committing fraud commonly do not take holidays because they need to keep covering their tracks. The story can be similar for incompetent employees. If they're not at work for a week complaints are more likely to make it to someone who might start asking questions.

In high-risk jobs it's not unusual for week-long holiday breaks to be absolutely mandatory (one of the findings from the Bearings Bank collapse).

right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679498)

People do not take vacations because they don't have money to do so. Or they simply refuse to fly because of this whole security theater we got going on here...

Re:right... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679584)

You can take a week off work and stay home.
I get a week more vacation than my girlfriend and I do that or visit my family. Nothing says you have to leave town when you take a day off work.

US management culture (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679530)

I worked for the Australian branch of a multinational, when we got put under the management of the US branches.
Now this was done because we were putting our releases on time, on budget, while the US branches were constantly missing deadlines and getting hit by penalty payments. So we were basically moved to make their departments figures look better.
The US managers kept coming out, looking at what we were doing and how hard we were working, and immediately deciding that if they could take our 4 weeks annual leave off us, we'd be even more productive! They could not get their heads around the idea that we were able to put in that much effort because we knew that when crunch finished we'd be able to take a couple of weeks to rest and recover before the next sprint. If you don't get time off, then you've got to pace yourself.
We never got it through their heads, and eventually we were written off as culturally lazy, and sold off. Even though we were the ones hitting deadlines, and they were always running late.

And the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679538)

Are people who work long hours and check in to keep things moving even while on vacation, rewarded more than those who go off the grid when not on the clock?

Imagine two people:
1) has family and makes a point to not work on vacation, lest they suffer the wrath of their spouse
2) is single, and tends to take stay-cations, gets bored and checks in to work to break up monotony

I don't understand the logic that would drive a manager to give the same reward to both individuals, when person 2 clearly works more. Sure, person 1 has more getting in the way of work, but that doesn't justify an inflated sense of worth on the job.

Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679544)

"If I burn someone out, I can always find someone else(.)"

In this economy, that's perfectly true.

Re:Duh? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679642)

Then get an education. The place I work at has 3 positions open and we can't fill them. The real issue is we are not allowed to increase the offer amount since the ownership says the economy is bad so employees should be cheap to hire.

It might be that (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679556)

Every other country understands that this makes people healthier and creates a better workforce.

Perhaps other countries' businesses are more about making money for the stockholders and less about reminding the management that they have power over the working stiffs.

This is why we need more unions employers are (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679588)

Worker abuse is common and this leads to burnout, poor work do to long hours and higher trun over.

I am upfront about my PTO expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679594)

I openly tell companies while interviewing that I will take all my available PTO every single year. I also tell them that I do not expect to work more than 40 hours in a week (and never more than 50) unless it's a 1 or 2x a year event.

If a company isn't up to these expectations during the interview they get visibly uncomfortable or tell you the interview is done right then and there. This is fine for me, no one should work for a company which demands you work more than 40 hours or won't let you take the time off you've earned.

However, I do my work and never miss deadlines (due to my own failure). I feel as long as I keep up my end of the bargain so should the company. Any that don't aren't worth my time.

---

I took a three week long summer vacation last year. I am taking 5 weeks this summer. I also take many long weekends and sometimes a random week off here and there. If you're not then you need to find a new job and fast.

Oh and no, I don't care how much you love your job there's no way you can love it more than vacation.

Vacation? What vacation? (3, Insightful)

nsxdavid (254126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679598)

At my company, we did away with vacations. You get no vacation time. At. All.

But that was just for starters, we also did away with sick time. None.

Personal days? Don't make me laugh.

I am proud to say that was my initiative.

One might think this could have some impact on moral. But when asked during on camera interviews, how much would people have to pay you to leave? Some said at least double, and most said they couldn't even think of a number.

If you want to know how that's possible, then Google ROWE. Results Only Work Environment. And you'll understand why.

I give talks about our transition to ROWE, and it's been nothing but phenomenal.

David

Re:Vacation? What vacation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679678)

And are your staff currently standing on the office roof theatening to jump off?

First hand experience (5, Interesting)

geek (5680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679606)

I used my vacation time this year. First time in 13 years I've actually taken a full vacation. Two weeks later I was let go. Luckily I have a new job already but this is a very real problem.

As for the reason I was let go? It was trumped up BS. I was a model employee, multiple promotions, commendations etc. Never had I been under any disciplinary action.

Vacation. Right.... (4, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679608)

I've been with the company and (its successors in interest -- yes it's been bought three times) long enough that I supposedly get 5 weeks of vacation per year. However, there is a clear expectation that I will check email while on vacation (or holiday). I also have been called in for insignificant issues while I was on vacation -- told I had to come back in. If I go out of town, I'm expected to take a laptop with me so I can remote in to handle issues that come up. Vacation... I wish.

No surprise. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679612)

This is what capitalism does. Profits become more important than people.

Not Just Vacation (5, Interesting)

DoomHamster (1918204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679630)

In the U.S. you are also punished for taking time off for being sick. I actually had a co-worker told that she had to keep her accrued vacation time above 20 hours (vacation time and sick time are the same pool) because the company felt that she was taking too much time off even though she was only taking what she had accrued. So if she was hovering around 20 hours accrued and got the Flu, tough...better come to work and infect your co-workers. It's stupid. Corporate policy is based around what makes for the best quarterly report. Never mind that those decisions will cost the company in the long run as long as the numbers have been maximized for the quarterly report. The hubris of the corporate overlords is bolstered by the support of the state which says that we are "at will" employees that can be let go at any time without prior notice or reason. This is the result of runaway capitalism. We are returning to the robber barons of the turn of the last century.

Yep. (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38679672)

I certainly agree that employees that use their vacation days are at a disadvantage. Who are you more likely to promote? Joe Schmoe who 'abandons his post' for two weeks a year, or John Doe who hasn't taken so much as a sick day in ages and never takes vacation? You don't have to cross-train someone to hold down John's side of the fort for a week or two at a time, so promoting him will save you a few man-hours of time in the future. In the mean time, you'll keep telling Joe he can't take vacation because someone else on the far other end of the vacation always has the two weeks he wants reserved off....

My company actually got rid of PTO last year (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38679682)

They exchanged it for a program where you "ask your manager for time off". Fine if you are a confident employee with a good manager and a good relationship with them. Not fine if you are timid or have a bad manager and bad relationship with them. Fine for the company because they win either way.

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