Paid Vacation Days: What You Need to Know

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By Susan M. Heathfield
Updated November 29, 2016
Source
Paid vacation days are days for which an employee is paid when he or she takes time off from work. Most organizations voluntarily provide paid time off to employees as a benefit. Increasingly, the best employees, the candidates that you most want to hire, demand paid vacation days as part of their comprehensive employee compensation packages.

How Do Employees Aquire Paid Vacation Days?
The number of paid vacation days generally accrues to employees based on their years of service to the organization and the level of their position.

For example, employees accrue 3.0769 hours per pay period worked in the case where they are eligible for ten days or two work weeks of vacation. (This calculation assumes that there are 26 pay periods for the employee.)

For most jobs, paid vacation days are standard across jobs and employee longevity. Employees start their jobs with one-two weeks off. As the years of their employment pass, they become eligible for more weeks of paid vacation time off. From experience, paid vacation days most frequently reach their limit in accrual amounts at four-six weeks of paid vacation time off.

You Can Negotiate Paid Vacation Days
Individual employees can also negotiate for paid vacation days. Extra days are more frequently granted to senior managers and executive level employees. But, if you’re a potential employee who is leaving your current organization with five weeks of vacation accrued, it pays to negotiate rather than to accept two weeks of paid vacation as a part of a standard employment offer.

For example, in your current organization, you have accrued five weeks of vacation annually because of your longevity and level. An employer who is interested in your experience and skills is usually willing to stray from their standard practice of starting new employees with two or even one week’s paid vacation days.

Employers recognize that managers and senior people won’t take that kind of a step backward in their compensation plans. You may not get as much as you negotiate for because of employer past practices, and fairness to current employees, but it’s worth a try. You can then make decisions about a job offer with the whole compensation package in mind.

The same advice applies to prospective employees with hard-to-replicate skills or with scarce degrees. Employers are willing to negotiate higher levels of compensation and benefits such as more days of paid vacation with difficult-to-hire employees.

Paid vacation days are also negotiated as a part of a standard union contract in a workplace that is represented by a union. In such a represented workplace, individual employees are unable to negotiate the number of their paid vacation days. What the union negotiated is standard practice across the board.

What Paid Vacation Days Do Employers Offer?
While there are no Federal laws in the United States that require an employer to offer paid vacation days as a benefit, employers of choice offer employees paid vacation days.

In fact, paid vacation days as a benefit are so common that potential employees expect paid vacation days as part of a comprehensive benefits package.

Most organizations use a formula that assigns a certain number of hours accrued during each pay period based on time with the company.

Paid vacation days in the United States range from five to 30. In Europe and other parts of the world, paid vacation days are more liberal. (An example of a formula is available in this paid time off policy.)

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in a benefits study highlighted by Salary.com, employees with:

One year of service receive an average of 9 paid vacation days,
Two years of service receive an average of 10 paid vacation days,
Three – four years of service receive an average of 12 paid vacation days,
Five years of service receive an average of 14 paid vacation days,
Six – seven years of service receive an average of 15 paid vacation days,
Eight – nine years of service receive an average of 16 paid vacation days,
Ten years of service receive an average of 17 paid vacation days,
11-13 years of service receive an average of 18 paid vacation days,
14-15 years of service receive an average of 19 paid vacation days, and
More than 15 years of service receive an average of 21 paid vacation days.
Candidates for executive positions can and do negotiate more time as do people with highly-in-demand skills and experience.

As a final word of advice, if you’re a job searcher, you know that when an employer makes you a written job offer that the employer wants to hire you. You have nothing to lose by attempting to negotiate a higher salary and more benefits such as higher paid vacation days.

Watch for words such as, this is a non-negotiable offer or this is our final offer when you are negotiating. The employer will let you know when you have moved beyond his limit—and then, you must make your decision about the offer on the table.

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