Readers ask: How Much Vacation Should I Get?

Google Analytics tells me that a significant number of  readers came to AliveHR trying to figure out how much paid time off is the norm in the US. I have a string of queries along the lines of “How much vacation time should employers give in America?”

I ran into a lot of dead-ends while researching, so I can see why so many people have questions. When I did find data,  ranges were often so broad as to be unhelpful. What good would it do, for example, to find out that most companies give between 4 and 29 days? What does that mean to me and my situation?

As you consider reports and surveys about paid leave, keep these points in mind:

1. Recency. Surveys and reports lag behind real time by several years, making recent data somewhat of  a mystery.We know things (including benefits) have shifted slightly in the last two years but we don’t yet know exactly how.

2. Industry, etc. Benefits such as paid time off vary by industry, sector, region, company size and job function (e.g. exempt vs. hourly paid employees) and much more. Obviously, school systems closing for summers, spring and winter breaks, snow days, Federal holidays, etc., might reasonably expect that employees will actually show up most of  the remaining days that school is in session. They will handle paid vacation differently than a Washington think tank, who will have a different approach from a mom & pop retailer, or a manufacturer, or an airline.

3. Apples & oranges. It can be difficult to compare leave benefits; some employers still use sick and annual leave while a growing number use the combined category Paid Time Off.

For these and other reasons, consider information with a grain of salt. But for what it’s worth: says, “Most US employers offer their workers 10 paid holidays, 2 weeks vacation, two personal days, and 8 sick leave.”

Business Management Daily some years ago listed paid vacation days for medium/large companies as 9.6 days at one year of tenure (more for government, less for small business).  More information including average holidays can be found here

And here, AllBusiness says that new employees usually get about 17 or 18 days off per year,  which includes sick days. Professional, long-term employees could accrue almost twice that.

So there you have it; these sources would agree that 9 or 10 days vacation is about average. If you want to dig deeper, try the Employee Benefits Research Institute or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, as you Google, try variations of  keywords like: benchmarking, benchmarking paid leave, PTO, employee leave benefits, etc.

Good look! And looking forward to your vacation, let me say: bon voyage!

photo by 19Melissa68’s

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