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Our View: Time off is good for all

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Employers and employees benefit when workers take advantage of their vacation time.

Unfortunately, many people do not take time away from work – either because they are too concerned about leaving their post for an extended period, or because vacation time is not offered to them through their employer.

A 2012 survey by the online travel site Expedia.com found that American workers received an average of 12 paid vacation days each year, but used only 10 of them.

Taking time away from the office is good for workers, even the most essential. It allows them to recharge, to reflect on aspects of their life without work, and often helps them return to work with a fresh perspective and a renewed motivation – at least, after the shock of returning to their workaday routine has worn off.

It benefits employers as well. At some businesses – banks, for example – employees are required to take at least an entire week off at a time. This mandate is strictly in the interest of self-preservation of the institution, as it often foils any system an employee might have for breaking the rules with money.

In fact, that is how the massive embezzlement scheme perpetrated by former Dixon city Treasurer and Comptroller Rita Crundwell was discovered. Crundwell was on vacation, and the person filling in for her stumbled upon a secret bank account where she had been diverting public funds for her own use.

Unfortunately, American workers have no vacation time or other time off guaranteed them, putting the U.S. worker last among all the countries of the developed world. Even Japan, whose people are famous for their intense work ethic, requires its workers to have 10 vacation days each year.

Although nothing is guaranteed for American workers, in reality many of us are afforded paid vacation and holidays through our employers. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 74 percent of workers have access to paid vacation time through their employers – a figure that would be higher if teachers’ summer break time were taken into account.

So even if your bank account won’t allow you to jet off to some tropical paradise or take a road trip to see some beautiful part of America other than our own, why not try a “staycation,” where you don’t go to work but spend some time – and money – at local spots you’ve wanted to visit but just haven’t had time?

Vacation time should be afforded all workers. Everyone benefits when workers use the time-off benefits they’ve earned.

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