Forfeited Time Off – Are Employers Getting a Windfall?

According to a survey conducted by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Effect initiative, American workers permanently lost a total of 169 million days of paid time off (PTO) in 2013 alone. These days could not be rolled over, could not be paid out, were not banked or used for any other benefit. By forfeiting this time, American employees surrendered $52.4 billion in benefits. Shockingly, the survey shows, that puts the value of a forgone day, where workers are providing free labor for their employers, at an average of $504 per employee.

Counterintuitively, the study reports that more time at the office does not correlate with a raise or bonus. In fact, employees who left 11-15 days unused are less likely (by 6.5 percent) to receive a raise or bonus than those who used all of their vacation days. Employees who leave the most PTO unused are also more stressed. Americans who leave 11 days or more unused reported being “very” or “extremely” stressed with their work lives, compared to those who left less time on the table or took all their PTO (31 percent vs. 25 percent).

The message here: stop being a martyr. Vacations are important to your mental and physical health. A well-rested worker is more valuable to an employer than one who is stressed-out. So, start scheduling those vacations!