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How to Negotiate More Vacation Time at Work

By Maurie Backman - May 5, 2018 at 12:18PM

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Desperate for more paid time off? Here's how to get it.

Gone are the days where workers finish up their shifts, leave their jobs behind for the day or weekend, and unplug. Nowadays, we're all expected to be on and available outside of regular office hours, whether it means checking email before bed or logging on and updating spreadsheets on select Saturdays. It's no wonder, then, that so many Americans feel overworked and desperate to have some time away.

Unfortunately, most U.S. companies are relatively stingy when it comes to paid vacation time. The average American worker gets just 10 days of paid time off per year, and in some cases, those days overlap with sick time. That's why it's important to fight for more vacation time if you feel you don't get enough of it. Here's how.

Man in a beach chair

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Collect some data

Unfortunately, gathering data on vacation time can be challenging, as companies don't necessarily report their policies to a centralized agency. Your best bet, therefore, might be to talk to the people you know at other companies and see what their benefits entail. If you can gather data on businesses in the same industry as yours, even better. Then, if you come to find that your company's vacation policy lags behind others, you can make the case for some extra time off.

2. Prove that your work won't suffer

Offering workers more vacation time can cost companies money in employee output. After all, the more time you spend away, the less work you're going to do. But if you can prove to your manager that a few extra vacation days won't cause you to fall down on deadlines, your boss might take your request to heart and work to help grant it. So remind your manager of the many, many times you've gone above and beyond to ensure that things got done, and explain that while you'd ideally like to unplug completely, if need be, you'll check in on the office while out to keep things running smoothly.

3. Make a case for improving your productivity

Burnout is a major problem for workers today, due in part to the fact that we're expected to always be on. Not only can burnout trigger some unfavorable emotional responses in workers, but it can also cause their productivity to decline. Therefore, if you make it clear to your boss that having a little extra time off will allow you recharge and come back with a better mindset, your manager might agree that giving you a couple more vacation days might actually be a smart business decision.

4. When all else fails, ask for comp time

Generally speaking, those of us who work 50 hours or more per week while the rest of our colleagues put in 40 don't get anything in return (other than maybe the satisfaction of having accomplished more at the office). If the above tactics don't sway your company to change its vacation policy, your next best bet may be to negotiate for comp time, where if you work a certain number of hours above the norm, you get an extra vacation day in return. Now keep in mind that comp time isn't so simple; depending on your employment status, it may even be illegal. But failing everything else, it's worth pursuing as a possibility.

One final thing: If your company does agree to up your vacation time, be sure to use it completely. In 2016, only about half of Americans used all of their vacation days, which sends the message that all that time off isn't necessary. Therefore, if you're going to fight for more vacation, don't make your company question the importance of granting your wish.

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