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#179425 - 16/09/2003 16:17 For "USAians": Paid time off
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
I interviewed for a new job today at another company, and although I have no idea I'll get it, I think it went well. In the conversation with the HR rep, most of the "circumstances" of the job (salary, benefits, etc.) seemed to be in line with what I have at my current job, and the work they're doing may be a significant upgrade in terms of what I'd be doing on Day One, and what I could work myself into in the future. There are slight differences in certain benefits areas, etc. but most key things I'm concerned about seem compatible.

The one reservation I have is that the company only provides for 2 weeks vacation (along with 10 paid holidays) until you're there for 5 years. I asked if this is negotiable, as most terms are, but she assured me that this is a company-wide policy and they don't make exceptions.

Now, I know 2 weeks is pretty standard for someone starting off at a new job, but after only 3 years at my current job I was eligible for 3 weeks, and I could purchase a 4th week that I'd get reimbursed for if I didn't take it. I found it very strange that the company wouldn't consider adjusting this policy, but I got the distinct impression there was no wiggle room.

So would any of my fellow full-time Americans care to comment on paid time off policies at their workplace? Is it uncommon for someone to be given 3 weeks vacation to start a new job? Are most companies similarly firm in not negotiating the # of weeks vacation? I just want to get a feel for if I'm spoiled now by having 3 weeks vacation, or if I'd be justified in being a little hesitant to accept an offer where I have to work for 5 years before I get a third week. I'm trying to weigh the various pluses and minuses of this opportunity in case I do end up getting an offer.

Thanks.
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- Tony C
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#179426 - 16/09/2003 16:21 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
pgrzelak
carpal tunnel

Registered: 15/08/2000
Posts: 4859
Loc: New Jersey, USA
Greetings!

Where I am (large corporation), we would give 2 weeks for someone just starting, an addition week after 7 years, and another week at 15 years. There would be about 7 holidays. But you would also get 4 personal days and 3 "floating holidays" that you could take at will. Plus the ability to purchase a week of extra "unpaid" time.

The trick is actually getting the time / project schedule to use it all...
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Paul Grzelak
200GB with 48MB RAM, Illuminated Buttons and Digital Outputs

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#179427 - 16/09/2003 16:24 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
DLF
addict

Registered: 24/07/2003
Posts: 500
Loc: Colorado, N.A.
OK, I'll jump in. Yes, Tony, you're spoiled.

I work for a major telecom-industry company, and here's what our policy has been through many years/name changes: 1 week vac. until 5 years; 2 weeks until 15 years; 3 weeks until 20 years; 4 weeks after 20 years. 1 additional week purchasable at any time (this will go up in Jan.). Only 7 paid holidays, BTW (e.g., no Presidents' Day or Good Friday/Easter Monday off, but oddly the Friday off after Thanksgiving avery year).

Edit: yeah, I forgot the 4 personal & 3 "floating" holidays.


Edited by DLF (16/09/2003 16:25)
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#179428 - 16/09/2003 16:30 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: DLF]
RobotCaleb
pooh-bah

Registered: 15/01/2002
Posts: 1866
Loc: Austin
i believe i accrue 2.5 days per month and cant keep more than 60 into the next year. i think....

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#179429 - 16/09/2003 16:31 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
Mach
old hand

Registered: 15/07/2002
Posts: 826
Loc: Texas, USA
2 weeks up to five years is standard for the 3 US companies that I've worked for. My current employer did give me "time served" credit for my previous industry experience that counted towards my seniority date and consequently, accelerated when I was eligible for an extra week. You may be able to do the same.

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#179430 - 16/09/2003 16:43 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: Mach]
loren
carpal tunnel

Registered: 23/08/2000
Posts: 3824
Loc: SLC, UT, USA
Here at LucasLand we get 13 paid holidays, 2 weeks paid vacation for a new employee up to three years, then 3 weeks for the fourth through seventh years, and after 8 it's 4 weeks paid vacation. Plus we get one personal day which we can use for whatever each calendar year. Vacation time is accrued... so we get so many hours toward the vacation time per week worked, as opposed to a lump 2 weeks automatically at the beginning of each year.

Boy was I bummed when i was in Vienna and they said they got something like 4 or 5 weeks STARTING.
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#179431 - 16/09/2003 16:52 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3722
I can't speak to the policies of generic American firms, but I can speak to your negotiating power. If you have multiple offers, and the sticking point for you is their vacation policy, do make that clear. It might shake loose an exception to the supposedly hard-and-fast rule.

(Or, just become an academic. There's no official vacation policy, but then nobody really cares when or how long you take off as long as you're around enough to handle your deadlines and other responsibilities. Going to a conference in an exotic location during the summer? Stay for an extra week? Sure, why not? One of my colleagues spent most of the summer in Europe. Of course, he has tenure...)

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#179432 - 16/09/2003 18:13 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
cushman
veteran

Registered: 21/01/2002
Posts: 1380
Loc: Erie, CO
I guess I've been spoiled, but I got two weeks off the first year with 4 floating holidays, year 2-4 I got three weeks with 5 FH's, and when I hit 5 years I now get 4 weeks off with 6 FH's. They are really good with family leave, too, and there isn't a limit on sick days (although after a while you'll go on short-term disability).
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Mark Cushman

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#179433 - 16/09/2003 18:25 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
tracerbullet
addict

Registered: 08/01/2002
Posts: 419
Loc: Minnesota
I'm at a smal (150 people) company in Minneapolis, and we get one week after one year, two after two, three after five, and four weeks after ten years. 8 paid holidays plus one "floater". That must be pretty typical, since if our HR doesn't quite know what to do about something, they go run some surveys and then aim our policy right at what is "most common".

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#179434 - 16/09/2003 18:44 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
Folsom
member

Registered: 12/08/2001
Posts: 175
Loc: Atlanta
We get two weeks starting and get three weeks after five years. I came in with two others (including my boss), and we negotiated for three weeks since we each have 10+ years experience. The extra week doesn't accrue, though, so I don't get it paid back to me if I leave.

How many years of experience do you have? If you have moe than five, I would try to get an extra week. I thought it was funny that our company was only giving two weeks of vacation when all the new hires had lots of experience.

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#179435 - 16/09/2003 19:35 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: Folsom]
tonyc
carpal tunnel

Registered: 27/06/1999
Posts: 7058
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA
As usual, lots of great points made by all.

->pgrzelak:
Plus the ability to purchase a week of extra "unpaid" time.
That is really something I like about what I have where I'm at. I buy the extra week every year and if I don't use it, I get the money back. That's a luxury I'd hate to lose.

->Mach:
My current employer did give me "time served" credit for my previous industry experience that counted towards my seniority date and consequently, accelerated when I was eligible for an extra week.
That's something I'd really like them to do, but I'm a little leery of being too pushy on the issue. I think their logic is they want you to prove to them you have loyalty to them. They couldn't care less that I showed loyalty to my current employer for 5 years.

->DWallach:
I can't speak to the policies of generic American firms, but I can speak to your negotiating power. If you have multiple offers, and the sticking point for you is their vacation policy, do make that clear. It might shake loose an exception to the supposedly hard-and-fast rule.
Yeah, I did try to negotiate, but I didn't push it too much. I mentioned that I have 3 and can buy a 4th, but she said "my hands are tied" and "we're trying to change it, but right now, it's 2 weeks for everyone." I always operate under the assumption that all these rules are negotiable, but I also have to think that maybe they've made a blanket "no exceptions" statement. Since today was my first round of interviews I was a little hesitant to take a more strong negotiating stance, I'll save that for if I get an offer on the table.
Or, just become an academic.
I hate you.

->loren
Boy was I bummed when i was in Vienna and they said they got something like 4 or 5 weeks STARTING.
Tell me about it! This is exactly why I said "For USAians" in the title. I didn't want to hear all the Euros gloating about ther 350 days of vacation each year.

->Folsom
How many years of experience do you have? If you have moe than five, I would try to get an extra week.
I have been at Vanguard since June 1999. That makes it 4 years and some change... But since it's my 5th *calendar year* (99, 00, 01, 02, 03) that's how they count years of service. So 2003 is the first year I've gotten the 3rd week, and I purchased the 4th, which I may sell back this year. But going back to 2 weeks might be very tough on the soul. I guess I need to do some more probing to try to see how serious they are about "no exceptions."
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- Tony C
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#179436 - 16/09/2003 20:50 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
ashmoore
addict

Registered: 24/08/1999
Posts: 564
Loc: TX
One of the the delights of moving from the UK to the USA is the absolutely crappy vacation time in the USA.
You think going from 3 weeks to two is bad you should try going from FIVE weeks down to two !
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#179437 - 16/09/2003 20:53 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
lectric
pooh-bah

Registered: 20/01/2002
Posts: 2082
Loc: New Orleans, LA
Just to chime in, for local government, we get a day a month plus your birthday until 5 years (13 days) then 1.5 days a month until 10 years (19 days), then 2 days a month after 10 years (25 days). Plus 12 paid holidays. (Mardi Gras is included)

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#179438 - 16/09/2003 21:03 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: lectric]
Ezekiel
pooh-bah

Registered: 25/08/2000
Posts: 2413
Loc: NH USA
Leaning shovel not included.

-Zeke
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#179439 - 16/09/2003 21:08 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
Ezekiel
pooh-bah

Registered: 25/08/2000
Posts: 2413
Loc: NH USA
Seriously though...

My job (started 1994) had 0 weeks of for my first year, two after that, three at 5 years and 4 at 10. Since then it's relaxed and now everyone gets 2 to start and 3 weeks after three years. Slackers!

Of course, I also bring my dog to work and the president often comes in wearing sandals ripped shorts and a Hawaiian shirt during the summer.

-Zeke


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#179440 - 16/09/2003 23:38 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3158
Loc: Portland, OR
Hmm... that's pretty crappy. Everyone at my company starts with 3 weeks + 10 holidays. After 2 years, it's 4 weeks, at 6 years, it's 5 weeks, and at 10 years, 6 weeks. On top of that, artists get an additional 6 weeks, though the company can dictate when they can take it if we're in a slow period. There's no cap on the amount of vacation we can roll over. This is, of course, all negotiable.

In addition to that, we have the option of taking our overtime hours as time off (at 1.5x the number of hours worked), or getting it paid out. (At the moment, I have ~6.5 weeks of this comp time.)

Oh, yeah -- and every 5 years, we're given two months paid time off for sabbatical. (3 years, 2 months to go!)

I'm not sure what the rules are for freelance workers -- I doubt they get the 6 weeks additional, as when we're in a slow period, we just wouldn't renew their contract.

I guess that's probably as close to European vacation time like as one gets on this continent.

(My previous company in Canada gave 2 weeks, 3 @ 5 years, and 4 @ 10. Non-negotiable.)

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#179441 - 17/09/2003 05:02 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
speedy67
enthusiast

Registered: 18/12/2000
Posts: 342
Loc: South-West-Germany
I didn't want to hear all the Euros gloating about ther 350 days of vacation each year


OK, OK, it's not 350 days/year, not really, believe me, it's only ....#![email protected]?#&connection terminated...



cheers, germany
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#179442 - 17/09/2003 07:24 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 13962
Loc: Canada
Back when I prowled around cubesville, I got 3 weeks vacation fresh from university, and a 4th week after 10yrs. In Canada. The company later adopted USAian like policies, reducing the initial offering to 2 weeks, adding the 3rd week back in after three (or five?) years. I take about 26 weeks nowadays.

Cheers

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#179443 - 17/09/2003 07:36 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
davec
old hand

Registered: 18/08/2000
Posts: 992
Loc: Georgetown, TX USA
At a US based company I got 2 weeks until 5 years of service then I got 3 weeks. I started for a UK based company (but working in US) and now I get 4 weeks, 5 after 5 years, plus a 4 week sabbatical after 5 years. And I can buy a week for a week's salary or sell one for a week's salary. They used to let us sell a week for 5% of our salary, but not anymore after last year. 10 holidays at both companies, but the UK based employer doesn't provide floater days, we get Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day instead. All in all a much better deal now...
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#179444 - 17/09/2003 08:14 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: davec]
boxer
pooh-bah

Registered: 16/04/2002
Posts: 2011
Loc: Yorkshire UK
Ouch! 25 days from day one here in the Boxer empire. plus stats. Rising to my current status of: That oldie with the moustache, is he still on the payroll - what does he do?
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#179445 - 17/09/2003 08:24 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: boxer]
BartDG
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/05/2001
Posts: 2577
Loc: Bruges, Belgium
I get close to 40 days/year. I'm not complaining!
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#179446 - 17/09/2003 08:48 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: boxer]
davec
old hand

Registered: 18/08/2000
Posts: 992
Loc: Georgetown, TX USA
They try to keep the benefits as even as possible around the world for the employees. Where we (USAians) really make it out well is on the medical benefits. Zero dollars per pay period for the entire family, $10 office visits, select your own doctor, etc, etc. But I don't have any dependents, so it's not as good as a deal for me. Adn the usual 401k match and stock purchase plan, though not a nice of a plan as at the other company.
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#179447 - 17/09/2003 11:23 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tonyc]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
Just to add an interesting sidebar to the discussion:

Accrued vacation time.

Our company was based in California and was privately owned. Under that owner, our vacation time was accrued. In other words if you didn't take all your vacation time in the year 1992, then those days were added to your available total for the year 1993. And so on.

Some people in the company didn't take vacations often and had accrued large amounts of vacation time, allowing them to do things like take two months off one year (after making sure that their projects could be covered by others in their abscence... they weren't jerks about it or anything).

Then, our company was purchased by a large multinational corporation based in the state of Michigan. We are still located in California, but we are now a branch office of a Michigan company.

Their vacation time policy is "use it or lose it". If you don't take all your vacation in the year 2001, you don't get to carry those days over to 2002.

It was my understanding that "use it or lose it" is actually illegal in the state of California. But they said it's legal for them to do it to us because of <some Klingon-worded legal reason I didn't understand>. They've got many dozens of branch offices in California already, and their main business is employment itself, so they definitely know their legal grounds well. I just think it's totally unfair.
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Tony Fabris

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#179448 - 17/09/2003 11:33 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: davec]
ashmoore
addict

Registered: 24/08/1999
Posts: 564
Loc: TX
I work for the state, which many years ago would have been good.
Nowadays it just means crappy pay, crappy benefits and no job security.
Check this out....
$300-$400 family health, $20 copay, 12 days holiday + 12 days vacation. The real kicker with the health now is that hospital copays are humongous, $500 a day limited to 'only' $2500
Meds are now $20 per item as well.
Optical is nonexistent, dental is a joke (15% discount).
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#179449 - 17/09/2003 11:44 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tfabris]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 689
Loc: Washington, DC metro
When I was managing retail shops in California in the early 90's, we were required to pay out any unused vacation time at the end of the year (I can't remember if it was calendar or fiscal), or when an employee left. We really pushed them to take their vacation.

Don't get me started on labor law in CA... Just trying to keep in compliance and protect the company from lawsuits cost about 10 to 15 hours a week of my time. We had to document everything in just such a way so we could win the lawsuit when we termed someone for cause (mostly theft or incompetence), or if they quit (yeah, they'd quit, then sue us claiming that we made the workplace unworkable). Very tiring.

-jk

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#179450 - 17/09/2003 16:03 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tfabris]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12097
Loc: Sterling, VA
I was wondering about that topic too, Tony. In my dad's business, it is also "use it or lose it." He was tired of people taking off large amounts of time. Typically, though, people are so irresponsible with their leave time, they wouldn't have any to carry over anyway. So many people will take a day here and there in the first 5 months of the year, then November rolls around and they're sick as a dog but can't miss work.

That's another topic that I haven't seen mentioned here once: sick days. Does anyone's company differentiate? Since my father manages his business, he decided that he was tired of people calling in and faking sick, so they did away with sick days and went to a single number.

Oh, and there's a guy in my girlfriend's office who's been there forever, and he never takes a sick day. He must have years of sick days saved up.

One system I thought sounded pretty good was that you could only accrue one year of leave, so that every year you would lose the days of leave you didn't take two years ago. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.
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#179451 - 17/09/2003 16:35 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
Yeah, sick days are also an issue.

Prior company: No such thing as sick days. X number of paid "personal days" which could be used for anything you wanted (such as unexpected lack of daycare for your kid), but recommended that you save them for when you're really sick.

New company: You have to actually be sick to take a sick day. So it means we "Play The Game" which to me is really childish, but hey, they're the ones who set it up to work that way.
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Tony Fabris

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#179452 - 17/09/2003 16:38 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: Dignan]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
Oh, and there's a guy in my girlfriend's office who's been there forever, and he never takes a sick day. He must have years of sick days saved up.
Does he work as a security guard?
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Tony Fabris

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#179453 - 17/09/2003 16:47 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: tfabris]
loren
carpal tunnel

Registered: 23/08/2000
Posts: 3824
Loc: SLC, UT, USA
We get 10 days/year sick pay which refreshes each January. They don't accrue/rollover.
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#179454 - 17/09/2003 16:48 Re: For "USAians": Paid time off [Re: loren]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31223
Loc: Seattle, WA
Do you have a policy that sick days must only be used for when you're actually sick? Or do you have to Play The Game if you need an extra day off?
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