Question of the Month
From the Catherwood Library reference librarians
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Question: Vacation time: how much is the norm?
Answer: Vacation time or annual leave is one form of paid time off. Other forms of paid leave could include sick time, maternity leave, jury duty leave, funeral leave, personal leave, etc. Usually these types of leaves are taken when an employee needs or wants them and, thus, are distinguished from paid holidays, which are taken at set times.
In the United States, there is no requirement that any form of paid time off be granted to private sector employees. Nevertheless, paid vacation is the most common employee benefit and 80% of private sector employees do have access to some annual vacation.(Employee Benefits in Private Industry, 2000) Private sector employees who are union members, who are professionals, who work full time, who work for goods producing employers, or who work for large establishments are more likely to be offered the benefit of paid vacations.(Employee Benefits in Private Industry, 2000)
Some states do regulate vacation time for their government employees, but overall, only 67 percent of state and local government employees receive vacation time.(Employee Benefits in State and Local Governments, 1998) (This is probably due to the numbers of part time elected officials that are included in this group.)
Vacation leave benefits cost private industry $.74 and state and local governments $.87 for every hour worked.(Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Summary)
In Europe, vacation time often occurs in August--all of August! A European Union directive prescribes four weeks annual leave for all employees (EC 93/104 Art.7(1)) (Europa, the European Union Online), but some countries' national laws exceed this allotment. Other countries also have national laws requiring employees to have vacation time.
The table below outlines minimum paid vacation mandates for full time workers who have worked for one year in various countries:
|Argentina||14 calendar days|
|Australia||No national law, but 4 weeks is standard|
|Belgium||20 days, premium pay|
|Bulgaria||20 business days|
|Canada||At least 2 weeks, determined by provincial law|
|Chile||15 working days|
|Czech Republic||4 weeks|
|Hong Kong||7 days|
|Hungary||20 work days|
|Italy||Mandated vacation, length determined by employment contract|
|Japan||10 days paid time off (includes other leave time)|
|Northern Mariana Islands||0|
|Poland||18 working days|
|Puerto Rico||15 days|
|Saudi Arabia||15 days|
|South Africa||21 consecutive days|
|South Korea||10 working days|
|Spain||30 calendar days|
|The Netherlands||4 weeks|
|Turkey||12 work days|
|UK||No national law, implementing EC directive (4 weeks annual leave)|
|Ukraine||24 calendar days|
|US||No national requirement. Some public employee requirements.|
|Venezuela||15 paid days|
Source: Keller, William L., Timothy J. Darby, and American Bar Association. International Labor Law Committee. International Labor and Employment Laws. 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 1997, 2002 Supplements
In the U. S., the popular media refer to the two-week vacation. However, vacation time is often tied to seniority and many workers have to work up to that amount of time.
The chart below outlines average vacation days at 1 year of service for various establishments:
|Medium and Large Private Establishments||9.6 days (1997)|
|State and Local Governments||12.6 days (1998)|
|Small Private Establishments||8.1 days (1996)|
Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employee Benefits Survey. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ebs/
A Hewitt study of 834 large employers revealed that most employers (79%) offer salaried workers 10-14 days after 1 year's service.(SpecSummary, United States Salaried 2001-2002)
Below are some specific employers' policies and collective bargaining provisions regarding vacation time:
|Cornell University||3 weeks|
|Ernst & Young||3 weeks|
|Hewlett Packard||10 days|
|J. C. Penney Co.||2 weeks|
|U. S. Dept. of Defense||30 days|
|U. S. Postal Service||13 days|
|Wells Fargo||20-35 paid time off days|
Source: Employers' web sites.
|CB Agreement||Vacation Time|
|Agreement between CIBA-Geigy Corp. (McIntosh, AL) and Oil Chemical, & Atomic Workers' International Union (expired 1998)||5 days|
|Agreement between Cornell University and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 832S, Mar. 15, 2001- Mar. 14, 2004||2 weeks|
|Agreement between Cornell University ILR Extension Metropolitan District Office, NYC and the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO||3 weeks|
|Agreement between Deere & Co. and [various UAW locals] expires 1 October 3003||1 week|
|Agreement between New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) and the UAW, August 1, 1998||64-88 hours|
|County of Tompkins [NY] and Civil Service Employees Association Local 855||10 days|
|Graduate Student Employee Union (NYS)?€”1999-2003||0|
|Labor Agreement 1993-2004 between Diesel Workers Union and Cummins Engine Co.||40 hours|
|Labor Agreement 1993-2004 between Office Committee Union and Cummins Engine Co.||5 days|
|Master Company Agreement with International Union of Elevator Constructors, July 9, 2002-July 8, 2007||120 hours|
|New York State Police Investigators and NYS Troopers||20 days|
|Tompkins Cortland Community College and the TC3 Unit of the Tompkins County Local 855 CSEA||10 days|
Source: Union contracts found via sources listed in the Catherwood Guide at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/library/subjectGuides/
Besides actual time allotted, many other factors should be considered when setting up a vacation policy. Among them are service requirements for vacation eligibility, what to do with unused vacation, policy differences in the use of vacation versus other types of leaves, scheduling vacations to benefit the employer and employee, and unpaid leave policies.
Some trends include the consolidation of vacation and other leaves into paid time off and the option for employees to sell, donate, and buy vacation time.
Enjoy the last days of summer and have a great vacation!
Employee Benefits in Private Industry, 2000. 2002. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available: http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebnr0007.pdf.
Employee Benefits in State and Local Governments, 1998. 2000. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available:
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Summary. 2003. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Available:
Europa, the European Union Online. Available:
Keller, William L., Timothy J. Darby, and American Bar Association. International Labor Law Committee. International Labor and Employment Laws. 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs, 1997, 2002 Supplements
SpecSummary, Salaried Employee Benefits Provided by Major U. S. Employers, 2001-2002. Lincolnshire, IL, Hewitt Associates, 2001