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United States Businesses The Almighty Buck

The Higher Your Salary, the More Time Your Employer Will Pay You Not To Work (qz.com) 455

The best-paid workers in the US not only make more money than many of their colleagues, they also tend to get more paid vacation days. An anonymous reader shares a report: An annual survey of of employee benefits conducted by the US government shows that, in 2017, nearly half of the people in the top 25% of earners received at least 10 days of paid vacation. The bottom 25% was not so lucky -- only around a tenth of them received such generous leave. Paid vacation time is often overlooked in measures of pay inequality in the US, because the value of time off does not appear in the household income statistics.
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The Higher Your Salary, the More Time Your Employer Will Pay You Not To Work

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  • In other words. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by will_die ( 586523 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:43PM (#56466337) Homepage
    In other words, the more you are a value to a company the more they will pay you in salary and benefits.
    Vacation leave is nothing more than additional pay and in most companies is negotiable.
    If you are working as a burger flipper your salary is not that high and the extra benefits are the same.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I've been told that vacation is less negotiable than salary with the rationale that vacation is measurable/noticeable by peers and can create friction when one employee is deemed "away too much".

      I haven't had luck with employers negotiating vacation unless they were being really minimalist about it. You can usually get it up to the "max" for that position, but not beyond that. I had one employer tell me flat out that vacation was 100% non-negotiable but willingly gave up $10k in salary to make up for the

      • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

        I had a job that let you purchase additional PTO. Mostly these days now, I just get "unlimited PTO" because it doesn't show up as a liability on the books, you can't cash it out if you leave, and most people won't take as much as they probably could. Current job insists that I take "At least three weeks a year" and also does a holiday shutdown. no complaints here so far.

        • The old system worked better for me. The use-it-or-lose-it was a good incentive to actually use the vacation. You'd even get a reminder from HR that you have too much vacation on the books. For me it was mostly end of the year, add a week onto the holiday break. And you can always tell the boss you gotta use it NOW instead of waiting until things aren't as hectic. But with off-the-books it removes the incentive, and the boss doesn't feel like she's stealing your vacation if she says no.

    • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

      I worked for major financial institution for a long time and found that the salary budget was very limited but that they would, and could negotiate time off without adding to the budget. Before I left I had 5 weeks of vacation and they had a program that allowed employees to pay for an week off by setting aside a small amount of money from each pay check leaving me with 6 weeks of paid vacation each year plus my sick leave which I used all of as genuine sick days or spontaneous mental days. As others have m

      • >I worked for major financial institution for a long time and found that the salary budget was very limited but that they would, and could negotiate time off without adding to the budget.

        I had a similar experience in the insurance industry. The last six years before I retired I had 22 vacation days and 13 paid holidays. I also required people in my organization to actually take their vacation. People in sensitive financial positions were required to take two consecutive weeks off at least once a ye

    • Re:In other words. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @04:35PM (#56467363)

      Vacation leave is nothing more than additional pay and in most companies is negotiable.

      Only in most American companies is it negotiable. In the rest of the world they are mandatory, and we laugh even at the top 25% of earners.

      • Everything in the US is negotiable. It's the American dream. Being truly salaried, I get unlimited PTO which is more than I ever did in Europe being "salaried" which doesn't really exist there and at a higher rate too. The PTO reporting is just for statistics and rate calculations and comes out to ~35% across the workforce when you include sick and holidays.

  • 10 days??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:44PM (#56466349) Homepage Journal
    Here in Europe we get 120 paid days off per year! What a country!
    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:47PM (#56466373)

      I'm in Canada and I get 365 days off per year!

      Oh wait, I'm homeless...

      • Lucky you, your'e saving a fortune in rent or mortgage payments.

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        I'm in Canada and I get 365 days off per year!

        Or you've out-Ferrissed Tim Ferriss, and you've managed to have some extremely productive 1/4 days.

        You probably make ends meet on the proceeds from your best-selling book The 6-Hour Workyear, into which you invested a monumental twenty-hours of finger-blurring energy over the past four years.

        (The other four hours were spent reorganizing your pop-up office TV tray.)

      • As long as internet is working in your iglu in winter, you are not really homeless!

    • Re:10 days??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by barrywalker ( 1855110 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:47PM (#56466375)

      Here in Europe we get 120 paid days off per year! What a country!

      Europe isn't a country. You must be an American.

    • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

      120 would be obviously insane, but here in Italy I get 26.

    • Wait... there are only 262 work days in a year. If you get 120 days paid off a year then you're essentially only working half the year. I realize of course that vacation is generous to the point where things often shut down part of the year in the EU but... that seems excessive.
  • Generous? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:44PM (#56466351)
    10 days is considered generous? That seems pretty low to me, and I'm sure it's considered uncivilized by most other modern countries.

    Also, first ever first post?
    • I'll second that. At where I work, you get 10 days as soon as your probationary period is over which is usually 3-6 months after your hire date. More vacation comes with years in the company and not related to your pay grade. I personally think this is silly but that is how they operate. I think giving out vacation based on merit is actually the way to go.
    • If you actually lived in a modern, civilized country you would get first post.
    • I think it's a poor enumeration. I have never had less than 15 days at any of my positions in the past 20 years. BUT, I never had sick leave. I think many companies have weeks of sick leave on top of the 0-10 PTO days.

      But I agree with the general gist of the post thou. Every interview I went to said PTO was not negotiable. Even the type of businesses where the employees would mostly work during Dec/Jan, they wouldn't officially give make up or extra days.

      I thought it was kind of stupid. I declined such pla

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @04:37PM (#56467379)

      I get 37 days and I sure as hell am not anywhere near the top 25% of earners in my country.

      Greatings from socialist Europe.

      Was that a typo or just a play on words, you can decide :)

      • by subk ( 551165 )
        I get 50 days and I sure as hell am not anywhere near the top 25% of earners in my country. Greetings from a socialist University in the US.
  • by fph il quozientatore ( 971015 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:45PM (#56466355)
    So why is it surprising? It seems like basic economics to me. People with more in-demand and marketable skills can obtain both a higher salary and more benefits.
  • Work/Life balance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:48PM (#56466389)

    10 vacation days is not a lot.

    The work/life balance in the US is horrible. The typical 9-to-5 doesn't exist-it's closer to an 8-to-7 schedule if you're salaried.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Definitely. All Americans work 8-7 and get 10 days of vacation a year. I've never been there, but I read it on the Internet.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      10 vacation days is not a lot.

      The work/life balance in the US is horrible. The typical 9-to-5 doesn't exist-it's closer to an 8-to-7 schedule if you're salaried.

      I guess I'm lucky then. 7:30-4 with an hour for lunch. 10 years with the company and have 3 weeks vac(get 4 next year, it tops out at 5 weeks), plus 14 days paid time off earned each year with unused time rolling to the next year (up to a certain amount). Of course, I only make about 60k w/ bonus so the pay could be better.

      • 3 Weeks vac, does that mean 15 work days or 21? (A week has 7 days, if you only get the 15 work days between weekends as vacation, you are a poor sod.)

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:48PM (#56466397)

    The number of vacation days you receive often increases with your number of years at a company, as, often, does your pay. New(er), perhaps younger, employees often start out with lower salary and fewer vacation days. How is this a revelation? In addition, people higher up the salary scale may have more experience, perhaps from somewhere else, and negotiated more vacation days during the hiring and/or annual review process. Less experienced employees don't have that leverage.

    • The number of vacation days you receive often increases with your number of years at a company, as, often, does your pay. New(er), perhaps younger, employees often start out with lower salary and fewer vacation days. How is this a revelation? In addition, people higher up the salary scale may have more experience, perhaps from somewhere else, and negotiated more vacation days during the hiring and/or annual review process. Less experienced employees don't have that leverage.

      I would hope the study took that into account, if not, your thoughts have merit.

    • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )
      I don't think the point of the report was to point out that this is some kind of amazing revelation, but rather that statistics on income only include income. This is problematic for certain uses of that statistic, because for some things you might actually want to measure "total compensation", which would include vacation time.
  • Duh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dasheiff ( 261577 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:50PM (#56466407)

    Better job gets more benefits.

  • I've never had a job that offered vacation days. The woes of being a IT contractor, never hired, always used awhile and thrown away
    • Get out of IT. Seriously. Run away from that field as fast as you can. Parlay into Data Science which is growing and in high demand.
    • Unionize!

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      The woes of being a IT contractor

      You are responsible for your own vacations. They are the time between gigs. If you can't afford to take some time off, you are just bad at budgeting and planning.

      An advantage: At the end of your contract term, when your customer asks to renew, you just say, "I have a two week job to take care of right now. See you when that's over." When they scream about the inconvenience, you just tell them that this wouldn't have happened if you had been a direct employee.

  • Strange.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @02:52PM (#56466437)
    It's almost as if employees are being offered pay and benefits that are directly proportional to the value they bring to the company. Huh. Whoulda thunk
    • by sinij ( 911942 )

      It's almost as if employees are being offered pay and benefits that are directly proportional to the value they bring to the company. Huh. Whoulda thunk

      This is because sexism and racism! We all know the only reason top employees earn more and given more perks is because of entrenched patriarchy and white privilege (Never mind that many of top earners in tech are Chinese and Inidan). Down with the white hetero males!

    • True. More vacation, but also much more pressure not to take vacation because of your responsibilities.
    • Re:Strange.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DaveyJJ ( 1198633 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @03:55PM (#56466947) Homepage

      It's almost as if employees are being offered pay and benefits that are directly proportional to the value they bring to the company. Huh. Whoulda thunk

      Except that's not how it has worked in the real world since the late 1960s in the USA.

      For that you might want to look at a few facts about pay (NY Times, Economic Policy Institute, UN economics reports, etc). 1) What the average US worker would be earning if their salary had increased at the same pace as CEO's salaries? Slight more than $160,000. 2) The fact that the average US worker is earning slightly less than their 1970 counterpart when adjusted for inflation, 4% less, in fact. 3) The average US CEO earned 20x an average workers salary in 1970, and now that's closer to 350% It was 296% in 2013, and has neared 380% since then. 4) While the average worker's productivity has risen 248% since 1973, wages have only risen 108%. 5) Real average hourly wages of young college graduates has fallen every year since 2000. 6) If minimum wage in the US has matched productivity gains, it'd be over $18/hour.

      But please, keep thinking pay structure is all about the actual monetary and intangible (brand) value someone brings to an organization if you like. I'd suggest that those who are making more money, might possibly be doing that since the system is becoming increasingly rigged for them (and by them) to do so.

      • You have to remember the job pool was much smaller in the 70s so people would get paid more.

        The fact that most women now work (nothing wrong with that so don't read into this) means that the available employee pool doubled.

        • Correct. Simple supply and demand. Plus since women are typically willing to work for less, many companies, like mine, prefer women candidates over males. The last eight developers I've interviewed were all women. None could do the job which isn't unexpected since you're picking from a much smaller pool of candidates. Add in the fact that the last three women we hired were either pregnant when we hired them or got pregnant shortly after, it screws over the rest of the team. I finally got enough people

  • It's almost like vacation and other benefits are part of the salary negotiation. Once your basic needs are covered you can divert more of your compensation in to these instead of base pay.

    I am a bit concerned that someone is just figuring this out now.

    • Of course, its Quartz, so they are just trolling on social status, gender, race, and wealth memes. The very next article trolls on about how whites are racist because a higher percentage of them own homes than blacks.

  • For those higher paid employees, an equally interesting question is how many days of vacation do they actually use?
  • It's almost like benefits and salary are both part of the compensation an employer gives you in exchange for your labor, and so more valuable (to the employer) or lower supply labor ends up getting higher benefits and salary than less valuable/higher supply labor.

  • Of course, I'm not an American.... but being neighbours, I didn't realize that our labour laws were actually *THAT* different in this regard (I knew about some differences, of course. but I didn't think they were different about vacation time).

    Here in Canada, employees are entitled to a paid stat holiday, regardless of whether you are scheduled to work that day or not, if you have been employed for more than 30 days, and have worked at least 15 of the last 30 days. If you are not scheduled to work on a

  • Get an education and earn experiences that companies will value. If you are valued then you will be compensate monetarily as well as in perks like additional time off.

    If you are not valued, then you'll be treated like a cog in the system and discarded as soon as a cheaper, younger cog is available.

  • In actual fact, high income earners tend to work substantially more than low income earners, so the fact that that they nominally more vacations hardly matters. People working around 60h/week [dqydj.com] make a median of $63000, whereas pepole working 40h/week make a median of $38000. A week or two of extra paid vacation isn't even a blip compared to 20h/week differences in work.

    • Is that a useful way to look at the data? You've just stated twice that the median compensation is $20 an hour.
  • There are 52 weeks in a year. 10 days is two weeks. That is only 4%... the difference between making $100,000 a year and $104,000.

  • NO WAI, thanks for the insight.
  • I'm not trying to make any of you feel bad about your life choices, but I worked my entire adult life getting three months' vacation every year, plus a week for Spring Break and a week over the holidays.

    As others here have said, you get paid what you're worth, I guess.

    • That isn't possible. We all know that in the US everyone gets 10 days of vacation or less, and in Sweden they get at least 25. Read it on the Internet.
    • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

      I'm not trying to make any of you feel bad about your life choices, but I worked my entire adult life getting three months' vacation every year, plus a week for Spring Break and a week over the holidays.

      Guessing you're a teacher? There are definitely some perks to that life, though the downside is that you'll never get vacation at other times of year (e.g. going on a ski trip in January).

  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @03:22PM (#56466695) Homepage
    'Nearly half' of the top earners get 10 or more days of vacation, meaning that more than half of them get less than 2 weeks a year off - and it's much worse for low earners.

    That's pretty darn embarrassing for a first world county: in Europe even a minimum wage McDonald's drive through worker can expect around 5 weeks of paid vacation in his first year of employment, plus a dozen or so days for national holidays.
  • Not the exception. Who wrote this fucking article.
    • by sinij ( 911942 )

      Who wrote this fucking article.

      Probably Jeff Bezos trying to squeeze extra out of his warehouse workers.

  • Here is Europe the legal minimum number of days of for anyone is 20 days. Plus national holidays.

    I really can't understand how you can think 10 days is a lot. I get 9 days a year just as national holidays

    You guys are screwed over!

    • What? Here in Sweden the minimum legal number is 25 days!!!! You guys are totally screwed!!! It is almost as if different people get different benefits based on different factors! The insanity!
  • by jtara ( 133429 )

    Somebody had to do a survey to discover this?

  • Here we have close to 30 days by law.
    Most people have 32 to 35 days.

    I personally would not go below 90 days ... but that is not fully vacation, half of it is sports the majourity of the rest is studying new stuff, mostly project related.

    The USA is a place completely out of question for working as a European (unless you want to do rocket science, work for Intel or Apple etc.)

    I can not "relax" at a wok place, even if we would run on "low demand", and I should be present, I would always be kind of "high alert"

    • It is funny in every post by a European there is a different number of days "required by law". So far I have heard 20 days, 25 days, 30 days. Is it based on level of smugness?
  • Yeah this isn't exactly a big surprise when you give the topic a few seconds of thought. To incentivize employee retention, companies often raise paid vacation time. My previous employer raised paid vacation time to 3 weeks after 5 years, 4 weeks after 12 years, and 5 weeks after 18 years. During that time, pay increased at about 3% annually. So more senior employees get higher wages and increased paid vacation time. No big surprise there.

    The problem for employees is that "paid vacation" is really something [affordanything.com]

  • The way I understand it, generally people with more seniority are paid more. They also have more vacation days.
  • One of my past employers paid me a huge sum just to go away and never come back.

    Unfortunately (for them) the state department of labor and industries still found me and I filled them in on the working conditions there.

  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @05:38PM (#56467805) Homepage

    My first real employment gave 10 days, rising to 15 days after a few years of tenure, which was the same package my wife had for her first few fulltime jobs. Then I got a job at a place which STARTED at 15 days, and built to 25 days, and I realized - 10 days of vacation isn't some blessing for top performers, it's a sign of how broken American employment is. With only 10 days it becomes really challenging to cover your various life events (sibling's graduation, niece's wedding, etc) and also take any sort of worthwhile vacation. So you end up spending it in dribs and drabs, maybe with a one-week block somewhere, or you don't take minimal vacation for a few years to bank time for something longer in the future.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying people should just be slackers. But 10 days per year is unhealthy.

    [And I realize that this is #firstworldproblem, given the many people who completely lack control over their working time and have effectively zero vacation days, which is also completely broken of us as a society.]

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