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Take those Vacays!

It’s August – the last month to squeeze in a summer vacation with the family before school starts, before the weather turns and before your “use it or lose it” vacation days disappear.

In a recent study, it was discovered that only 25% of Americans take the paid vacation days they are due each year.

Harris Interactive conducted a poll of over 2,000 workers who get paid vacation. Only 25% said they use all their paid days each year and 61% said that while they’re on vacation, they still conduct business, and even get phone calls from their boss.

A lot of workers don’t take the vacation due to them because of many reasons: worried they’ll fall behind, worried they’ll lose their job, fear that no one can fill in for them, and a slew of other reasons.

The fact is, taking a vacation is key to a happy, successful workforce. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the law doesn’t require employers to give non-governmental employees any paid vacation time, but nonetheless, most American workers get at least 10 paid vacation days a year and six federal holidays.

In the European Union, they set a required base of at least 20 paid vacation days and many countries require more. France mandates 30 days and the U.K., 28 days.

It seems that Americans don’t take their vacations because they’re not mandated by law and because they’re afraid…and they’re afraid for good reason. The majority of U.S. companies operate under “employment-at-will”, which means they can fire anyone at any time for any reason, except for discrimination issues.

It’s not healthy, in any respect, to work without a vacation once in awhile. Vacations help stir the creative juices, fuel energy, recharge our batteries and give us perspective. Travel can also promote learning, especially when visiting other countries and cultures.

Employers need to view vacations, not as a loss of income, but as a crucial part of keeping their employees happy and keeping a healthy, happy workforce. Vacations, while not mandatory, should be strongly encouraged. Employees shouldn’t feel afraid to take time off to spend with their family or friends. Employers need to create a safe, secure environment where people feel secure about their jobs, not afraid to rest and recharge.

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