How Much Vacation Time?

Snapfigb-1 The New York Times
has an interesting "Room for Debate" series about vacation time in the United States v. Europe. Clearly, they get a lot more and at issue is whether or not this is a good thing.

(Chart and more information at EPI.)

Steve gets four weeks off a year, which is pretty good. His firm has to compete with European banks, so they have to offer their workers generous vacation time. Still, four weeks doesn't seem to be enough, because we only use a small portion of that time for actual vacation. When I was working full time, he had to use nearly all of that time to cover the kids during school breaks. There's all the hoopla at Christmas, which means he has to take off more time. With all the extended family and cooking and arranging, staying home during the holidays is actually more work than going into the office.

Still, it would be bitchy to complain. We actually have the money to go away this year, and four weeks is pretty good by American standards.

Thinking about it, I'm not sure I get any vacation time at all. If my full time job is parenting combined with putting together a new career, I never take a day off. Even when we're traveling next week, I'm going to be watching kids and composing blog posts. When does school start again?

<tangent> On Monday, I woke up with a terrible stomach virus. Blew chunks in the bathroom and then cleaned myself up, because Ian had an audiology test at a pediatric hospital. There was no way I was going to cancel that test. It takes months to get an appointment. So, I sat in a padded closet with him for TWO HOURS without moving. He had to listen to words and sounds with headphones that kept slipped to one side. Green faced and repressing the urge to heave, I kept sliding down in my chair. He did fine. He just can't hear anything with background sounds. </tangent>

That's why I need a vacation, too.

Do we need more vacation time in America? How much vacation time do you get per year?


19 thoughts on “How Much Vacation Time?

  1. My husband gets 2 days per month, so 24 days, plus the university gives staff the week off between Xmas and New Years. We have a pretty good after-school program that holds vacation week camps, so he doesn’t have to take off too much time to deal with child care.
    I’m on an academic schedule. Over the summer, my job is making sure the kids are where they are supposed to be, which is surprisingly time consuming. (Pediatrician appointment in 35 minutes. 😦

  2. I negotiated 3 weeks, although 2 is standard, but in my company traditionally we get a bonus of extra days sometime between xmas and new year’s. My husband gets 4 week, but can rarely take all the days.

  3. I don’t know from “vacations.” It has no meaning to me. With nursing, there was “accrued vacation time,” but you hardly ever used it. With 80-hour scheduling over two weeks, you work 12 (or 16) hours each on Sun, Mon Tues, and then again the following Thurs, Fri, Sat, and you have 8 days off for vacation in the middle whenever you want. Better to do that, and then save up the vac time for the 8th and 9th months of pregnancy.
    With law, there’s the infamous “billable hour.” If you are billing 180 hours a month, no one really cares if that’s 6 hours per day for 30 days, or 14 hours a day for 15 days, with two weeks off.
    Luckily, I hate taking vacations, so it doesn’t really come up much.

  4. One of the reasons I chose to stay in education was the school and suumer breaks make life so much easier when you have kids. In my staff position, despite getting a lot of time off, my responsibilities often kept me from taking time off, especially in the summer. It’s only been in the last couple of years that we’ve been able to take what I would call a real vacation. Of course mr. Geeky pretty much works constantly. Often he does work even while we’re on vacation. He’s getting better about that but I think academia, like other work environments foster a 24/7 work mentality and that’s what I think we need to fix.

  5. I’m on the PTO (vacation, sick, etc) all rolled into one. My husband is at a university so gets a separate sick bank which means he takes more of the sick days with the kids. If everyone is healthy, I have up to 6-7 weeks (I usually take 5).
    There are so many factors to consider. I can do my job from home so don’t necessarily lose time with a sick child. The support staff can’t do that at all.

  6. Like Lee, I’ve got PTO rather than distinct vacation days. My employer was founded by European and Indian ex-pats who A) didn’t have the 2-week mentality and B) wanted to visit their families occasionally, so our time off is quite generous, even for the better-than-average software industry. We get 4 weeks PTO initially, 5 weeks after three years of service, and 6 weeks after six years of service. In addition, we get 3 days off per year to volunteer at a non-profit of our choice, plus the standard bereavement/parental leave stuff.
    However, there’s little-to-no accrual so you can’t convert unused vacation days into cash, which is apparently a cause complaint among salespeople. Myself, I love it.

  7. Until I’ve been here longer, we get less vacation at my current university that my last one. However, next year I go up a week and this year, snowpocalypse gave us an extra four days.

  8. I don’t get vacation time. I get “breaks” when school isn’t in session, and I get sabbaticals, but I don’t ever have time that is clearly marked “vacation,” and I need to start taking it. Yes, I get four months “off” in the summer–but this year I had actual scheduled work to do for five of those weeks, and research to work on the rest of the time. I will only take four full days out of the office this summer. That’s less than I usually take, for a variety of reasons, but there’s no way around it now.
    On the flip side, of course, if it’s not a teaching day and I don’t show up in the office no one really notices. Or, that used to be the case until I took on administrative duties. SIgh.

  9. There is no paid vacation time or paid holidays for the construction branch of my Local—if you work for the City-owned utility, you get paid vacation (I believe 2 weeks) and paid holidays…..but those of us in construction—-get nothing. We don’t have paid sick leave either, so everyone comes to work sick.
    Paid vacations and holidays are very rare in the construction industry, even for union workers.

  10. I get 4 weeks vacation, accrued on a per-hour-paid basis (2 weeks during first 3 years, 3 weeks during fourth and fifth years, 4 weeks thereafter), 12 sick days (accrued one monthly from start date), 2 floating holidays, and 7.5 holidays (office closed) per year. Everything accrues forever except the floating and office closed days–you get the floaters on July 1 and must use them by the following June 30.
    You can sell back sick time over 30 days (to cover you until the temporary disability pay starts) and up to 2 weeks of vacation, but only immediately after taking a 2-week vacation (they really do want people to get away from work for a while). You are specifically allowed by contract to take the sick days to deal with dependents and family members, not just your own illness and appointments.
    I work at a law office that mostly does union-side labor law.

  11. I’m an elementary teacher so obviously get summers and holidays off. This in and of itself makes it a great career for a parent. I have four children. During the school year I’m allowed 12 sick days and 3 personal (vacation) days. Sick days can accrue, personal days do not. (Use it or lose it.) I’ve used up all my sick days the past 3 years and guess what? Every single time I stayed home with a sick child ~ I didn’t take any sick days when *I* was sick. Not complaining, just thought it was ironic.
    DH gets three weeks off per year. He takes 2 days here, 3 days there. We had a nice family vacation planned this summer, but two weeks beforehand, we had to cancel. He’s so swamped at work, he couldn’t take time off. Saved us about $600, but bummer. 😦

  12. I get 3 weeks of vacation per year; it accrues per pay period. You start with two weeks, you get three weeks after five years, and get four weeks a year after 10 years. Everyone gets four weeks of sick leave a year, one week of which can be taken to cover sick family members or their medical/dental appointments. There are 12 paid holidays every year. Bereavement leave is 40 hours for parent/spouse/child and three days for grandparent. Our Employee Action Committee has tried to get certain changes through and there has been much discussion about changing sick leave but we are on year 3 without an HR administrator.
    The majority of my co-workers grew up on farms which means they don’t know how to take time off and rarely take actual holidays someplace. They will take a week to help with harvest or two days to attend the State Fair or a day off to paint the garage.
    My husband has a great deal of flexibility as an academic, but the downside is he is almost never not working. That laptop can go anywhere.

  13. He just can’t hear anything with background sounds.
    I just noticed this. A similar issue is the direct cause of why I want to destroy bluetooth headsets.
    At the office, other people will not hesitate to suggest that if their noise bothers you, you should put an iPod on your ears. In popular terms, this counts as “quiet.” This is one of many reasons that I find democracy is necessary, but not sufficient, for the ordering of human society.

  14. I get five weeks. Except for one week where the extended family gets together, I use that in dribs and drabs across the summer when my child-minding duties increase dramatically.

  15. Hey, Alison, thanks for the book reference. I’m going to have to get it.
    Bummer about your vacation, Heather. 13 sick days? Wow. That’s really great.
    MH, it’s called Central Audioprocessing Disorder.

  16. MH, it’s called Central Audioprocessing Disorder.
    I think I’m just easily annoyed. But, they did make me see a speech therapist when I was in first grade. They never did tell me why. I was with the cute girl who had a Cindy Brady lisp, so I didn’t complain.

  17. In the Federal Govt, you get 2 weeks to start, 3 weeks after 3 years, and 4 weeks after _15_ years. I’ve been stuck in the 3-week status for more than a decade.

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