More paid days off planned this seasonNews added by Benefits Pro on December 5, 2012

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By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

More time off is scheduled to be available this holiday season as 58 percent of employers are providing at least three paid days off, a jump from 42 percent from 2011-2012 and 36 percent in 2010-2011, according to a survey by Bloomberg BNA.

Another 51 percent of respondents report making Christmas Eve Day a paid day off. For the manufacturing industry, 85 percent of respondents are offering at least three paid days off during the holiday season while 52 percent of respondents from nonmanufacturing companies and 51 percent of respondents from nonbusiness organizations also plan to do so.

Among the respondents with fewer than 1,000 employees, 65 percent are giving employees three or more paid days off, but only 48 percent of respondents from larger organizations are offering that same time off. Roughly four out of 10 respondents say at least a few employees must work Dec. 25, Jan. 1 or both. Thirty-four percent of respondents expect to schedule Christmas work shifts, and 38 percent of respondents plan on employees working New Year's Day.

When it comes to gifts and bonuses, 45 percent of respondents say they are providing gifts or bonuses to some or all employees, which remains almost unchanged from last holiday season when 46 percent of respondents did so. Still, this is a jump from the record low of 33 percent in 2009. For clients and business associates, 77 percent of respondents impose formal rules on gift acceptance while 25 percent of respondents completely ban gifts.

More respondents are hosting holiday celebrations at 74 percent, up from 67 percent in 2009, and 55 percent of respondents are offering companywide events, an increase from 50 percent in 2009. Of the respondents holding holiday celebrations, 86 percent are paying for the entire cost, but only 48 percent are allowing guests.

Sixty-three percent of respondents are serving alcohol at their celebrations, marking an increase from 55 percent from 2011-2012 and 56 percent from 2010-2011. Even though more respondents are serving alcohol, they are still being careful as 84 percent of respondents have at least one measure in place to prevent excessive consumption or protect guests. Among the precautions are time limits, cab services and discounted hotel rates.

Charitable activities are also popular this holiday season as 63 percent of respondents are sponsoring some type of organization. Forty percent of respondents are supporting toy collections for needy children while 37 percent of respondents are hosting food collections. Another 16 percent of respondents are collecting money, and one in five respondents is sponsoring clothing drives.

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