Benefits, Leave Management, Policy, and Compliance

How Many Days of Vacation Time Are Being Left on the Table? The Number May Surprise You!

A new survey released by TSheets reveals that U.S. workers left 600 million days of vacation unused last year.

vacation

Sergey_Peterman / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The data further reveals that 16% of U.S. workers get no paid time off at all and that one in five would give up a raise to get it. More than two-thirds (38%) said they would take a pay cut for a more flexible work schedule.

Among employees who do get paid time off, almost three-quarters (70%) said they had some or all of their balance left at the end of the year. One in five said they had more than 10 days left unused. The main culprit was overwork, with 44% saying they were too busy to take a vacation.

The survey of 400 employees — conducted for TSheets by Pollfish in April 2017 — also looked at how important paid time off is to different generations of workers, with questions about paid holidays, personal days, sick leave, flexible working arrangements, and family leave. The vast majority of the respondents (88%) believe employers should provide paid time off (PTO) and a similar proportion (85%) say sick leave is an important benefit. One in three said they do not receive enough PTO and 60% said they would turn down a job offer that didn’t include it.

How Much PTO Do Employees Get?

The most common annual PTO balance, according to this survey, is 11 to 15 days, but a surprising number of employees revealed they get much more than this. One in four of the respondents said they get 21 days or more. More than three-quarters (77%) said that in addition to vacation time they also get other benefits such as holidays, sick leave, or maternity leave.

Sick Leave and Family Leave

The most sought after benefit after PTO is sick leave, with 85% of employees agreeing that employers should provide this — although only 21% indicated that they actually receive it. A smaller proportion (72%) said employers should provide maternity leave and just over half (58%) said employees should be offered paternity leave. Only 11% said their employer offers maternity leave while just 8% offer paternity leave.

Millennials vs. Boomers

The data also reveals some big differences in opinion between older and younger workers over which benefits are most important. Respondents aged 44 and older favored sick leave more than other age groups, but placed less emphasis on the value of maternity and paternity leave. The strongest support for family leave was among the youngest survey respondents, with 88% of respondents aged 18 to 24 saying employers should provide maternity leave and 73% saying they should provide paternity leave.

Other Key Insights

Younger workers get a lot less PTO than older workers:

  • Respondents aged 18 to 24 get the least PTO: 34% said they get none at all (vs just 11% of respondents aged 44 and older).
  • Respondents aged 44 and older get the most PTO: 34% get more than 21 days a year, and 29% said they had more than 10 days left at the end of the

Younger workers are more likely than older workers to want more PTO:

  • 44% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they want more PTO.
  • 30% of respondents aged 44 and older said they want more PTO.

But younger workers are less likely to turn down a job offer without PTO:

  • Only 44% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they would do this compared to 60% overall.
  • In the 54 and older age group, 70% said they would not accept a job without PTO.

Gen Xers are more likely to value PTO over money:

  • Respondents aged 35 to 44 were the most likely to say they value PTO more than a raise (26% agree with this vs 20% overall).

Younger workers are more likely to support maternity/paternity leave:

  • 88% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said employers should provide maternity leave.
  • 73% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said employers should provide paternity leave.
  • 64% of respondents aged 44 and older said employers should provide maternity leave.
  • 49% of respondents aged 44 and older said employers should provide paternity leave.

Older workers are more likely to want sick leave and personal days:

  • 92% of respondents aged 44 and older want sick leave (vs 88% of respondents aged 18 to 24).
  • 81% of respondents aged 44 and older want personal days (vs 68% of respondents aged 18 to 24).

Older workers value flexible work time the least:

  • 72% of respondents aged 44 and older said employers should provide flexible work.
  • 87% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said employers should provide flexible work.
  • 65% of respondents aged 44 and older said they would rather get more money than more flexibility.
  • 60% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they would rather get more money than more flexibility.