Unused Vacation Days in Corporate America Put Some Companies in a Pickle

This last year has brought with it unseen challenges galore. Apart from the often-talked-about issues of health and social-distancing restrictions, the HR world faced another, much more unexpected issue as 2020 drew to a close: what to do with unused vacation time.

In many companies, employees must “use it or lose it” when it comes to vacation days. If vacation days are not used by the end of the year, then they are gone forever. The problem? Many employees in corporate America didn’t take vacation days in 2020. With so many working from home and unable to travel for most of the year—all complications from the current pandemic—many workers reached December 2020 only to realize that they were in jeopardy of losing those unused days off!

As many companies scrambled to invent a solution, which often involved rolling over a certain number of vacation days to 2021, other companies already had policies in place to deal with unused days off. These companies were able to stay the course with no panic.

The stay-the-course companies fell into two categories.

First, some companies already had a “rollover policy” in place, in which employees could rollover unused days to the next year if they wished. Goldman Sachs and Spotify are two examples, both generally allowing up to 10 vacation days to carry over to the next year.

Second, some companies have a buyout option, allowing employees to “cash in” their vacation days at the end of the year as an additional Christmas bonus. General Motors and Ford had arrangements like this in place.

As for the companies caught in a pickle, at least they had these two models they could examine and adopt as the year came to a close. Perhaps they will rethink their standard procedure to account for massively unused vacation days in the future.