Many squander paid time offNews added by Benefits Pro on February 24, 2014
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By Dan Cook

How about a nice, long vacation, say 429 million days long? All you need to do is scoop up all the paid time off workers fail to use annually – 3.2 days per employee – and away you go.

This calculation comes to us courtesy of a study done by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association. The research, which was based on input from more than 900 U.S. workers, revealed that 42 percent of workers don't use all their PTO before year-end. Among those 42 percent, they failed to use an average of 8.1 days a year.

When asked whether their manager encouraged them to take time off or discouraged them from doing so, a third of respondents said their managers did neither. Just 17 percent of managers said that they think workers who use up all their time off are slackers. Four in 10 employees said their boss supported them taking their time off but they had so much work they couldn’t take all their accumulated time.

“Despite the myriad benefits of taking time off, American workers succumb to various pressures — some self-imposed and some from management — to not take the time off to which they are entitled,” said Adam Sacks, president of the Tourism Economics division of Oxford Economics. “Leaving earned days on the table harms, not helps, employers by creating a less productive and less loyal employee.

"Further, it is a misconception that employers are ahead of the game when workers don’t use the time they’ve earned. In fact, stockpiled time off creates considerable financial liability for companies and governments when employees ‘cash out’ upon departure.”

Some of the other nuggets turned up by the research:

Government workers accumulate several more days a year on average than private-industry workers, and take a couple days more off a year. But, on average, government employees use a smaller percentage of their PTO than those in private industry. This could be explained in part by government benefits packages which are more generous in carrying over PTO and paying for the accumulation upon the employee’s retirement.

In the private sector, employees who work for companies with 51 to 500 employees take the highest percentage of the PTO (about 86 percent). Employees in companies with more than 500 take the lowest, but it’s still around 82 percent.

If workers used all of their available PTO, the economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales and $21 billion in tax revenues, spending that would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation.

If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the economy would benefit to the tune of $73 billion in total impact.

“Underutilized time off is a monstrous missed opportunity, not only for American workers and their families, but also for employers and the broader economy,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Americans seem to be wired to put the pedal to the metal, but there are also undeniable benefits to tapping the brakes.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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