US Workers Come Up Short in Vacation Time

June 6, 2001 ( - Workers in other countries have as much as three times more vacation than workers in the US, according to Hewitt Associates.

Vacation in the US is determined by companies who award vacation time based on length of service, in comparison to other countries where vacation is often mandated by law, regardless of length of service, and employers are required by law to provide a cash vacation bonus, typically equal to half of a workers monthly remuneration.

Last year:

  • 96% of US employers provided at least two weeks of paid vacation time to exempt salaried employees after one year of service.
  • after a fifth year of service, 83% of employers provide at least three weeks of vacation.
  • after 15 years of service, 92% of US employers give at least four weeks of vacation, in line with vacation time mandated in many European countries.

However, in today’s tight labor market, employers are starting to become more flexible on this benefit in order to attract and retain good employees, with benefits like flexible work schedules and telecommuting.

In addition, 14% of US employers allow their staff to purchase additional paid vacation time each year, while 10% of those polled now pool vacation days and sick days into a ‘paid time off bank.’

Many US companies allow vacation days to be carried over and unused days to be paid out in cash. And many award a bonus week of vacation to reward employees after long service anniversaries.