On Friday, I took the first of my two days of personal days, called Floating Holidays, which are days off in addition to regular holidays such as New Year's Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, etc., (which are federal and/or state holidays; 12 such holidays in the year), and vacation days. It sounds like a lot of time off, doesn't it?
With a prior employer, I received 1 week (5 working days) of vacation per year and about 6 paid federal/state holidays (so the day after Thanksgiving was a regular working day). I had the option of taking the vacation time off with pay or, working during that week and getting paid in lieu of vacation and being paid working during that week! In other words, getting two weeks' pay! The owner of the company said it was cheaper for him to pay us two weeks' pay than to hire a temporary employee through an agency. As far as I remember, we didn't have the option of taking one day of vacation at a time. I worked for that company for two years and both years, chose to take my vacation time in pay because I needed the money more than the time off. I left that company to join my present company, where I've worked ever since.
With my current company, I received 1 week (5 working days) of vacation per year for the first 5 years of employment and 1 floating holiday, and 12 federal/state holidays and one or two additional holidays that weren't federal/state holidays, such as the day after Thanksgiving. I could, also, carry over that week of vacation into the following year to add it to that year's vacation and have 2 weeks of vacation at the end of the 2nd year!
After the 5th year, until the 15th year of employment, I received 3 weeks of vacation per year. After the 15th year, I received one additional day of vacation per year until I received 4 weeks of vacation on my 20th year of employment. I also received 2 days of floating holidays per year!
From year 20 until year 25, I received one additional day of vacation per year, until I received 5 weeks of vacation per year. This is the maximum amount of vacation any employee with this company may receive. By US standards, this is a lot of vacation time off.
Apart from that very first year, when I received 40 hours of vacation time in a lump sum, the remainder of the vacation time off was accrued at a rate of a certain number of hours per month. It was up to each individual to save them to build up one or two weeks of vacation time. From the start, I became very adapt at stretching out my days of vacation to make maximum use of it. For example, since we got both Thanksgiving Day (3rd Thursday in November) and the Friday after it, taking just 3 days of vacation time off on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday enabled me to have a whole week off! Or, I could use my floating holidays for two of those days and use only one day of vacation time! Because I hoarded my vacation time and accrued the maximum number of days of vacation I was allowed, I was able to take almost two months of paid time off after my daughter was born (the Family and Medical Leave of Absence Law, which guaranteed up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave was signed into law less than one month before my daughter was born, but because I had vacation time, I was able to take that time off and still get paid).
After my daughter was born, my sick leave and vacation time off was taken,a day here, a couple of days there, to be home with her when she got sick, to take her to her doctor's appointments, to attend her school activities, etc. And, later, after my mother fell and broke her hip, and had her strokes, my time off was used to take her to her doctors' appointments, and to care for her. It meant I didn't have to take any unpaid time off; it also meant that I didn't take any vacations in the 'taking a holiday' sense of the word. Over the years, vacation time represented, not the availability of time to take off to relax and enjoy, but rather, a precious resource of paid time off to be held in reserve in case something happened and I needed to take some time off without any financial impact.
I was back to having my maximum number of vacation days off accumulated when I was diagnosed with cancer. My sick leave was used first and then, even though I was allowed to work from home when I could, I took vacation days off, as needed, for medical appointments, for chemo treatment days and the days that immediately followed, when I didn't feel well enough to work.
And now, with approximately two and a half months before retirement, it seems I have arrived at the same place I was when I first started working! Once again, I have the option of taking time off between now and retirement or, working during that time and getting paid for the unused vacation time I have accrued! So, do I take the time off, just before having all the time off I will want, or do I work the next few weeks and accept payment in lieu? At first, I thought I'll just take the time off. Then, I ran some numbers and saw how much it would be if I accept payment in lieu and now, I am tempted to take the money! But, most probably, I'll do a combination of both and take a little time off, between now and then, and accept payment in lieu for the rest of it.
How about you? If you are working/have worked, how much vacation time do/did you get? How is/was your vacation time allocated to you? In a lump sum at the beginning or end of the year? Accrued at the rate of a certain number of hours each month? Do you usually take an annual vacation of a couple of weeks at a time? Or, do you take your vacation time off sparingly, a day or two here and there? If you have the option of taking time off or getting paid for it, what do you think you would you choose?