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Many workers leave some vacation time unused

SYCAMORE – Lisa Gayden will not be taking a vacation this year.

An employee in Kishwaukee Community Hospital’s Food & Nutrition Services, Gayden said she plans to save up her vacation time. She estimated she has 120 hours – or 15 days’ work – accrued.

She said she has enough vacation hours built up in case she ever got sick. But she said she’s aware of how not taking a vacation can affect a person – the last time Gayden went on vacation was a trip to North Carolina about three or four years ago.

“I probably get stressed out easier, get tired easier,” Gayden said.

Fewer Americans intend to take a vacation in 2013, according to a June poll from Ipsos Public Affairs, a survey-based research company. Ipsos conducted the poll on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance, which sells travel insurance.

The Ipsos poll found that 48 percent of Americans were confident they would take a vacation this year. During the same survey, 44 percent of Americans said they have not taken a vacation within the past two years.

Steven Johnson, a travel agent with Carder Travel in Sycamore, said he has noticed a difference in the people booking vacation trips. He is noticing more trips involving grandparents with their grandchildren, not their parents.

“It’s just trying to get the parents to get the time off to enjoy that trip,” said Johnson, who is the director of the Northern Illinois Travel Society, which books trips for many retirees and some current workers.

Nancy Peltz, a travel agent with Royal Travel & Tours in DeKalb, said most of her vacation bookings have been four to seven days long – enough for people to get away to Mexico at an all-inclusive resort. She suspects many travelers bring their work with them.

“Yes, I think it’s everyone stays connected, whether they’re working or not,” Peltz said. “I think they’re probably not relaxing as much as they could on vacation.”

Johnson said he has noticed the length of vacations have also been dropping.

“They may take little excursions, but the big vacations don’t seem to be happening as much as they used to,” Johnson said.

On average, U.S. workers receive fewer paid vacation days and holidays than their counterparts in other developed nations, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think-tank based in Washington, D.C.

According to a May 2013 report entitled “No Vacation Nation Revisited,” many European countries have established mandates of at least 20 paid vacation days a year, but some offer more in the form of paid holidays. Based on this measure, workers in Austria and Portugal enjoy 35 paid vacation days and holidays in all.

Elizabeth Walsh, the office manager of Sycamore Integrated Health, said she used three of her vacation days during the Fourth of July week. She said she didn’t do anything special during that time, though.

She doesn’t plan to use her remaining seven days, she added.

“I get paid out at the end of the year if I don’t use them,” Walsh said.

Stephanie Lewis, an accounts receivable manager for a local manufacturing company, said she plans to use all four weeks of her vacation time. She doesn’t have any plans, but she added that she has to.

“Use ’em or lose ’em,” she said.

Time off

Developed countries and how many legally mandated holidays and paid vacation days they receive: 

• Austria, Portugal: 35 days

• Germany, Spain: 34 days

• France, Italy: 31 days

• Belgium, New Zealand: 30 days

• Ireland: 29 days

• Australia, United Kingdom: 28 days

• Norway: 27 days

• Greece: 26 days

• Denmark, Finland, Sweden: 25 days

• Netherlands, Switzerland: 20 days

• Canada: 19 days

• Japan: 10 days

• United States: 0 days

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research

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