Why Americans just won’t take time off

It’s all about corporate culture. Good luck trying to change that.


One editor at a weekly magazine admits that he skimps on vacation. In more than two decades, he says he has only used all of his annual vacation days twice–the years his child was born and when he was promoting his book.

He is far from the exception. Paid leave, whether in the traditional structure of vacation and sick days or as the more general bank of hours paid time off policy, makes up nearly 7% of total compensation in private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But employees rarely use all the time allotted. Workers, on average, fail to use nearly five vacation days a year, the U.S. Travel Association found.

As a result of all these unused days off, one study puts the liability taken on by U.S. businesses at $224 billion, due to workers’ rolling over unused paid time off. And that doesn’t take…

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