Personal Finance

US workers forfeit half their vacation time

Key Points
  • Employees in the U.S. only use about half their paid time off, according to Glassdoor.
  • Last year alone, untaken time off added up to over $66 billion in lost benefits.
  • For the average worker, that comes out to $604, according to a separate report by Project: Time Off.
Aleksandar Nakic | Getty Images

As the official start to summer kicks off this week, many workers are planning their vacations — at least in theory.

In fact, workers in this country leave much of their paid time off on the table, according to a recent report by jobs and recruitment website Glassdoor. It said workers, on average, use only 54 percent of their eligible vacation time.

Of employees who get paid time off, more than 90 percent have taken at least some of those days over the last 12 months, Glassdoor said, yet only 23 percent took all of the time they were entitled to. Nearly 10 percent took no paid time off at all. The job site polled more than 2,000 adults in March and April.

"Many people are nervous or scared that no one else can do the work when they are out or that they might get behind or that it might impact their chances of getting a promotion," said Glassdoor's trends analyst Scott Dobroski. "That is not healthy."

In addition, that fear of losing out is not felt evenly across the country. Employees in Idaho, New Hampshire and Alaska leave the most vacation unused, according to a separate report by Project: Time Off, which is sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association. These are also the states where workers feel the most discouraged from taking time away from the office.

Alternatively, Maine, Hawaii and Arizona top the states with employees who are least likely to give up vacation time, thanks to a more encouraging work-life culture, according to Project: Time Off's survey of more than 7,000 full-time employees.

Still, vacation days are considered one of the most important workplace benefits, second only to health insurance, according to Glassdoor.

Last year alone the 206 million vacation days that could could not be rolled over, banked or paid out added up to about $66.4 billion in lost benefits. For the average worker, that comes out to $604, Project: Time Off said.