I’ll do my best to not make this a full-on rant. But, I’m sure I’m not alone in being frustrated by paid time off policies in the US.
I work for a small business and my boss is probably more obsessed with travel than I am. So, I’m fortunate that my coworkers and I get 6 weeks of paid time off. The only rule we have is we can’t be gone during our busy season (which is a 4-5 month window each year).
As great as my work schedule is, I can never take full advantage of it because my wife works in the corporate world with a miserable leave policy. This year, all of her vacation time was accounted for by mid-January. In 2014 and 2015, we didn’t even make it into the calendar year before she was out of leave. And that’s after ‘buying’ an extra week off.
I appreciate that miles and points help us travel a lot more than most people. But, I’m green with envy when I hear about a cheap/mistake fare and know we can’t jump on it. And there have been plenty of times where a rare award pops up. But, we can’t take advantage of it because she doesn’t have any vacation days left.
I know some of you will say, “just go on your own.” And I do travel on my own. But, I try to reasonable about it because my wife is left with twice as much work taking care of our girls when I’m gone.
The worst part about the system in the US is how many jobs link vacation time and longevity. While I’m sure the intention is to reward longtime employees, it also serves as a frustrating set of golden handcuffs.
For example, my wife is currently interviewing for a job and it would be a great new opportunity for her. The only downside is she’d lose at least 10 vacation days per year because she’d be starting from scratch with a new company that also ties vacation time to longevity. She turned down a great job offer last year for exactly this reason.
We’ve tried negotiating more leave (even if it means less salary). But, most of the big companies she’s been through this with have zero flexibility. The policy applies to tens of thousands of employees and for some reason they aren’t big on making exceptions for people with travel-obsessed spouses.
It sort of amazes me that these policies persist because I’m sure it’s a barrier recruiters face when bringing new talent to a company.
Have you all been in a similar situation where paid time off was a deal breaker for changing jobs? And for those of you not in the US, what do you think about our miserable vacation policies?