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Employee Benefits

Workplace Trend: Mandatory Vacation

Some employers are requiring workers to take a vacation each year.

Taking time off wasn't easy for Kipp Chambers. Photo by Benjamin Rasmussen

With work constantly beckoning and access to the office a smartphone away, it can be hard to take a vacation—let alone truly unplug. About 40% of employees take less than one-fourth of their earned vacation time annually, according to Now a growing number of com­panies are turning to mandatory vacation policies to require employees to take a certain number of days off each year.

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Tech companies and young companies that have grown rapidly are most likely to adopt the new policies. For instance, software company FullContact allows employees to take as much time off as their workload permits but requires that they take at least three weeks off each year. The company sweetens the deal with an annual $7,500 stipend, but vacationing employees must stop checking e-mail or otherwise keeping tabs on work. Job-search site Anthology now requires vacations, and digital note taker Evernote offers vacation stipends.

Forced vacations help employees who find it hard to step away from their desk take time to recharge. Kipp Chambers, director of marketing strategy and operations at FullContact, once went more than a decade without a real vacation. Now, with a nudge from his boss, he has taken three, including a trip to Italy last year with his wife, Marnie.

No matter what your employer's vacation policy is, talk to your manager or human resources department before leaving vacation time on the table. More than one-third of employers require employees to use all of their vacation time each year or forfeit the remainder, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. And most companies that permit you to roll over vacation days limit the number that can be saved.

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