Why Keeping Vacations a Secret is Becoming Popular

Millennial employees are moving away from formal PTO processes and toward secret paid time off. There has been a recent trend of workers choosing to unofficially vacation rather than use their PTO days and risk rejection or shame.

Legality of Paid Time Off

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In the U.S., the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require time off for vacations, sick leave, or holidays. The decision to offer payment for time not worked is between an employee and their employer.

PTO Offerings

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Although there is no legal obligation to offer PTO, Americans typically get an average of 11 days off per year. The availability of time off often depends on the employer and the length of the employment, as well as the time of year.

Trend Toward Shorter Vacations

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Compared with other parts of the world, Americans tend to take shorter vacations. Unlike in Europe, where employees often take off one month at a time, this trend is uncommon at U.S. companies. Americans tend to take shorter vacations, if at all.

Millennials Feel Pressure to Work

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Many millennials feel that they need to be productive and available all of the time. This workplace culture leads many professionals to avoid filing official requests for time off.

GenZ, the Outspoken Generation

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Unlike millennials, Gen Zers tend to express their frustration with poor workplace culture verbally. While both generations are still impacted by a lack of PTO, millennials are often leading the trend toward taking unofficial vacations.

Consequences for Vacation

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Aside from internal pressure, employees often fear that their requests will be denied. Some avoid asking their bosses directly, in case there are negative consequences for their requests. This rejection further pushes employees away from taking PTO.

The Lie of Unlimited PTO

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Despite the idea of unlimited PTO, it often results in employees taking fewer days off. When there is a capacity on days, people will take better advantage of their benefits. However, when the offer is unlimited, employees tend to shy away from using their time off.

Rise of Secret PTO

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The result of these fears and attitudes has been a rise in ‘secret PTO.’ Many workers are not officially requesting to be off work, but are instead pretending to work while actually taking their vacations. 

How ‘Quiet Vacationing’ Works

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To gain back some of their work-life balance, some employees are still shifting their mouses, so that company platforms show them as available. Instead, they are relaxing, vacationing and generally disengaging, without the pressure of approval or guilt.

The Overtime Lie

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In addition to regular work hours, some employees are extending their quiet vacations to overtime. They will set their emails to send messages outside of their working hours, so that their colleagues believe they are working extra hard.

Impact on Employees

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While some of the pressure of requesting official PTO may be gone, holding up the facade can be just as exhausting. Unlike regular vacation could be, this method is stressful and has a greater risk of being caught or ineffective.

How Workplace Culture is Impacted

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Not only are employees negatively impacted, but so is the overall workplace culture. This trend reveals that employees and employees do not trust each other enough for open and effective communication. This can deteriorate the morale of the company and create an environment of secrecy.

Prioritizing Work-Life Balance

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Younger generations are demanding better work-life balance policies where they work. Millenials and GenZers alike crave flexibility at work and a more understanding environment. 

Normalizing PTO

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One of the obvious solutions to this problem would be to normalize PTO within the workplace. Employers and bosses should do their best to approve PTO requests and encourage employees to make use of their available time off without shame.

Is Mandated PTO the Future?

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Some companies may consider mandated PTO as the future. Week-long vacation times for the entire company or requiring a certain amount of PTO days to be taken regularly could be future solutions to these cultural problems.

Introduction of Flexiwork

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One solution beyond better PTO policies has been the concept of flexiwork. Although not suitable to every profession, this concept allows employees to adjust their daily schedules to their personal needs and creates a better daily work-life balance.

Taking Inspiration from Europe

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The U.S. may consider following the lead of many European countries. Examples such as legally provided time off, shorter workweeks, and strict working hours may just be a few examples of work-life balance strategies Europe is doing better.

Survival of the Fittest

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As younger generations continue entering the workforce, the companies with the best benefits for employees will survive. By changing the current PTO culture to a more supportive one, companies may have the greatest hopes of maintaining employees.

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The post Why Keeping Vacations a Secret is Becoming Popular first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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