Workers get more vacation time, but fewer paid sick days, than before

U.S. workers get more vacation time, but many fewer paid sick days, than a decade ago
(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)
<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

American workers get more vacation time today than they did two decades ago, but far fewer paid sick days, according to new government data.

The average full-time worker at a private company gets 10 days of vacation a year, up from eight days in 1993, according to the analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That expands over time, with the average employee getting 14 vacation days after five years (compared with 13 days in 1993) and 20 days after 20 years (versus 18 days in 1993).

This is good news considering the widespread advice from researchers about the psychic and professional benefits of taking vacations.

However, the boost in paid vacations is being more than offset by a pronounced reduction in paid sick days off.


For the average full-timer who’s been at his or her company for a year, paid sick time has dropped to eight days from 10 days in 1993, according to the BLS. That’s the exact reverse of the increase in vacation.

And the gap between now and the past widens the longer a worker is at a company.

The average person today gets eight sick days after five years (versus 13 in 1993). That rises to 10 paid sick days after 20 years. But that’s down from 17 days two decades ago.

And don’t count on making it up at Christmas or other holidays. The average worker gets eight holidays off a year, down from 10 two decades ago.

[For the record, 3:56 p.m. Aug. 12: A previous version of this story compared some figures with figures from “a decade ago.” In fact, those figures are from two decades ago.]


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