Is it Time to Stop Forfeiting Vacation Days?


Written by Alicia Cassels, MA, MFLN Military Caregiving Blog Contributor

An American Worker’s Dilemma

To use, or not to use? When it comes to vacation, that is the question faced by millions of American workers each year. Taking hard-earned vacation time is a no-brainer for most workers, right? -Not actually. Results of the 2018 State of American Vacation annual tracking survey indicate that the majority of American workers forfeited vacation time in 2017. According to their most recent report, 52% of workers left a total of 705 million unused vacation days in 2017. Oxford Economics analyzed the dollar value associated with this forfeited vacation time, finding an estimated $62.2 billion dollars in lost benefits. In effect, these workers donated an individual average of $561.00 dollars to their employers in 2017.

Why do American Workers Forfeit Their Vacation Time?

While a great number of factors influence whether an employee chooses to use their vacation time, the 2018 report examines three specific areas impacting worker decisions to leave time unused.

  1. Employees concerned about appearing less dedicated or replaceable if they took a vacation were much less likely to use all their vacation time. In total, 61% of these employees left vacation time unused as compared to 52% overall.
  2. Employees who reported that their workload was too heavy to get away were more likely than average to have unused vacation time, with 57% of these employees forfeiting time as compared to 52% overall.
  3. Employees who reported a lack of coverage at work, or that no one else could do their job were also more likely to forfeit vacation time, resulting in 56% with unused vacation days as compared to 52% overall.

The Case for Travel

While those who fail to use vacation time may report fear about negative impacts on their careers, American Vacation annual tracking survey results indicate that the opposite is true. Most striking are the results indicating that workers who use their vacation days to travel tend to be more likely to make higher salaries and receive a promotion than non-travelers.

“More than half (52%) of mega-travelers reported receiving a promotion in the last two years compared to Americans who use some (44%) or little to none (44%) of their time to travel.”

Those who use the majority of their vacation time to travel also report,

“higher likelihood of receiving a raise, bonus, or both than homebodies. Employees who used little to none of their vacation time for travel were five percentage points less likely than those who used all or most of their vacation time for travel to report a raise or bonus in the last three years (81% to 86%).”

A Promising Trend

Americans are beginning to use more of their vacation time. The 2018 report indicates that America’s vacation culture seems to be changing for the better. In 2017, more employees expressed confidence about using the vacation time they had earned, and more employers encouraged workers to utilize their vacation time. While 52% left unused vacation days on the table, that number represents an improvement over 54 percent in 2016 and 55 percent in 2015.

graph; chart

Is it Time for Change?

If you have tended to be in the majority, the group of American workers who leave vacation time unused each year, it may be time to rethink that stance. Through experimentation with taking time off for travel you may find that, rather than hindering success at work, using the vacation time you have earned may have a positive effect on your career.

Reference: (2018). State of American Vacation 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019].

World Autism Month: Learn More to Support Young Children and Their Families

by Hedda Meadan-Kaplansky, PhD

Logo design for world autism month by Autism Speaks organization to increase understanding and acceptance
World Autism Month Logo, Open Source from

April is World Autism Month. This is an opportunity to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and how it impacts more than 70 million individuals around the world.  Once considered a rare disorder, current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 1 in every 59 children in the US have autism. Boys are diagnosed with autism four times more than girls and autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

Refrigerator Mother Theory

Many years ago, people used the term ‘refrigerator mother’ to describe parents of children with autism. The assumption was that autism was the result of cold and uncaring parenting. Today we know that there are different factors, including environmental, biological and genetic, that could make a child more likely to have autism. We now understand that…

Caregiver behavior does not cause autism

Like Rain Man or Sheldon, right?

In the past, when people heard the word ‘autism,’ they thought about the 1988 movie ‘Rain Man,’ starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant who had impressive math abilities.  More recently, people may think of Sheldon Cooper from the TV series, “The Big Bang Theory” who is also a math genius. However, it is important to know that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts individuals differently. Each child with autism is unique and has both strengths and needs, similar to Julia, the new orange-haired, twinkly-eyed character in Sesame Street. It is a spectrum and Dr. Stephen Shore said:

If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism

“The More You Know”

We now know much more about autism including the early signs for autism, how to assess for autism at an early age, and effective strategies that support the development of children with autism. We also know that having a child with autism can impact every person in the family unit, including the parents, siblings, and extended family members. Therefore, as professionals we need to:

Support the child with autism AND the family

The 2019 MFLN FD Early Intervention webinar series, “Sunrise to Sunset: Supporting Children with Autism Through Their Day,” will focus on supporting young children with autism and their families.  The first webinar of the series will take place on April 10, 2019.  We will describe what autism is, at what age a child can be diagnosed with autism, and how professionals can support military and civilian families of children with autism.  To RSVP for our first webinar, “What Do We Know: Autism Screening, Diagnosis, & Supporting Young Children & Families,” click here.