Paid Time Off: If You Don’t Use It, You’re Throwing Money Away

paid time offItaly grants workers an average of 42 paid days off per year. Some European countries exceed even that, in the interest of work/life balance. On average, Americans receive a whopping 13 days of paid time off per year. Of those eligible to receive those benefits, only 57 percent actually take what they’ve earned. The other 43 percent leave money out on the table to be swept into the trash.

It’s easy to believe that not taking days off is a testament to your work ethic, but it’s just the opposite. In fact, you’re generally not saving your employer money.

The time is already paid for and invested in you as an employee.

You might argue you add productivity in those extra two weeks that you show up to work. So-called hard workers toting the perfect attendance badge, however, drain company savings by showing up to work sick, burned out, and dragging colleagues down with them.

Of course, there are jobs that don’t grant vacation or paid time off. I have known people in positions where you have to wait six months to earn a paid sick day. That’s less common in today’s workplace where flexibility plays a role in retaining and attracting top talent. Some employers, however, still don’t provide benefits in line with that objective.

Paid Time Off is Just That: Paid!

Paid time off, or PTO, exists as part of a supplement to your base salary. If you earn the time, and you don’t take it because you think it will make you look more dedicated… all you’re doing is leaving a big fat bonus on your desk and walking away.

Take your time off. Understand the potential value of what you’re throwing away. Not all companies will roll over vacation or sick days at the end of the year, though some do.

American Culture is Partly to Blame

American culture fosters the workaholic mentality. Proving oneself through long hours and hard work can seem vital; particularly in a downturn economy. So we work past the clock, take on extra projects, and give up valuable benefits that are already paid for in exchange for the perception of job security that may or may not exist.

Company Culture Offers a Solution

Many companies strive to create a culture that promotes health and wellbeing. Employers recognize that healthy employees are a true asset. Helping staff reach their highest level of productivity makes sense. So they invest in programs that focus on workplace wellness, corporate coaching, and culture development.

Finally, People who pay attention to their own health and wellness are far more productive. Of course, companies want to hire quality employees who add to the bottom line.

Ultimately, they want a positive return on their decision to hire you in the first place.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.




DanaAbout the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses. She also offers career transition coaching and business consulting.

Dana has helped hundreds of professionals execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities. Her advice is featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay,, GlassDoor and Follow Dana on Twitter!



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