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Buckets of Time

In the U.S. 4% of companies offer unlimited personal time off (PTO). (1) Most professional individuals take an average of 20.3 days off per year from a bucket of personal, sick and vacation time set in place by their employer. Some states, like California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, legally require companies to provide PTO to their workers. According to a recent study, 25 countries provide at least 28 days of paid vacation per year. (2)

In a study conducted by, the U.S. is the country with the joint fewest days of paid leave (0) and the second lowest number of paid vacation days in the world (10). (3) Additionally, U.S. paid maternity leave dropped from 53% to 35% in 2022, while paid paternity fell from 44% to 27%. (4)

Why is the U.S. struggling to provide time off for employees? Should there be a distinction between sick, vacation and personal time? How much time should employers allocate to employees?

DefinedTalent recently covered this topic in a podcast featuring Tara Thurber, Ellie Bright and Victoria Wright, all experienced professionals in the recruiting and human resources industry. Victoria stated, "More and more companies are actually listing it (PTO) on their job descriptions...because it's beyond just a perk and benefit now. It actually is a necessity."

With the amount of work-related mental health issues and extenuating health circumstances relative to Covid/Long-Covid employers are addressing and correcting employee policies to provide flexible schedules and time off. It's important to note that these policies vary widely. It's essential to consult your employer's policies or employment contract for accurate information on time off entitlements and procedures.

1) Forbes Advisor, 2023

2), 2023

3) Business Insider, 2023

4) *SHRM, 2022


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