Got Unused Vacation Time? Put It to Use with a Personal Sabbatical

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In September 2004, I was about to leave my first post-college job. My boss at that time – who happens to be one of the people I respect the most in this world, even now after my radical career shift – observed that I had a pile of unused vacation time that was basically going to disappear when I left that job in mid-October. He sat down with me and, once he was sure that the things I was working on were in good shape and that I’d be easily available if anything else needed to be finished up, he suggested that I use that remaining use-it-or-lose-it vacation time in order to transition to my new job.

In other words, I had about two weeks of vacation coming to me. I wasn’t really sure what to do with that time, though. I didn’t have children. My wife didn’t have any vacation time coming. So I asked him what I should do with the time. He looked at me thoughtfully and simply said, “Why don’t you just take a sabbatical?”

A sabbatical means a period in which you choose not to work in order to achieve something else that will improve your life. If you take a week off of work in order to re-pave your driveway, that’s a sabbatical. If you take two weeks off in order to take a class, that’s a sabbatical.

So what did I do during that week? I drafted a novel. It was the second novel-length work of fiction that I’ve completed in my life (and, like the first one, I now think it’s pretty awful). It was also a great learning experience for me. It taught me how to organize the threads of a complex story. It showed me that I had the capacity to write such a lengthy thing. It gave me the experience that I can build on with better stories later on.

Since that first experience in 2004, I’ve tried to take a sabbatical once a year or so. I’ll take a week off of work in order to work on some project or increase some personal skill of mine. One year, I used the sabbatical to take a Photoshop course. Another year, I spent the sabbatical working on my finances and, eventually, laying the foundations for The Simple Dollar. I plan to use a sabbatical in the fall of this year to “woodshed” on the piano, focusing squarely on mastering a couple of piano pieces.

What can you do on your sabbatical? Complete a personal project that needs a lot of focused time. Teach yourself a new skill that you know will be valuable in the future. Take a compressed course to pick up a skill.

The specifics depend entirely on you and what things you wish to accomplish and learn in your own life. Building a skill that you can use professionally is almost always a strong idea, as is a class that leads directly to a professionally useful skill. Completing a large personal project is also quite valuable, as is setting up the infrastructure for a side business or a larger personal project.

I could write a very long list of such ideas. Learn how to use a particular computer program like Photoshop. Learn a computer programming language like Scheme. Start an online business. Write a novel. Clean out every closet and nook and cranny in your home. Re-shingle your roof. Give a number of speeches and presentations to improve your public speaking skills. Take a compressed course on a topic valuable to your career at the local college. The list goes on and on.

The key is to make sure that you’re either doing something to improve your skill set or doing something that improves the value of the things in your life, particularly something that you can’t quite accomplish while working.

Why not just take a vacation? For starters, sabbaticals are easier to propose to supervisors. My experience – and the shared experience of others – is that it’s much easier to sell a supervisor on using vacation time for a skill-building exercise than it is for an actual vacation. Why? When you take normal vacation time, you’re not really increasing your value to the company during that time spent. If you’re building skills during that time, then you typically do increase your value. Even if you don’t build a skill that’s of value to the workplace, knowing that you’re local in case of an emergency can again make vacation time easier to sell to a tough supervisor.

For another, after a sabbatical, you have a genuine accomplishment. You learned a new skill or you took care of something significant that needed finishing. That sense of accomplishment is incredibly valuable, as it fills you with confidence as well as the rewards of whatever it is that you’ve accomplished.

After a sabbatical, you’re in a better place. That in itself is a tremendous reward and a strong source of good feeling which you can use to fuel your return to work. Good luck.

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46 thoughts on “Got Unused Vacation Time? Put It to Use with a Personal Sabbatical

  1. I have taken leaves of absence, I think you could call them sabbaticals, for personal fitness. Sometimes the work life balance tilts too far towards work and an unsustainable lifestyle can quickly leave you out of shape, and less productive.

  2. In my experience, vacation time has been earned and I have a right to take it at any time provided I give adequate notice. I don’t have to “seek permission” from my boss, nor does my vacation time have anything to do with adding value to my workplace. It’s my earned time off and a negotiated term in my contract.

    I see your point on building skills and deliberately using vacation time for something productive. But that is entirely different from a sabbatical.

  3. “For starters, sabbaticals are easier to propose to supervisors. My experience – and the shared experience of others – is that it’s much easier to sell a supervisor on using vacation time for a skill-building exercise than it is for an actual vacation.”

    Huh? If you’re entitled to a vacation, you’re entitled to a vacation. Why would you need to “sell” a supervisor on anything? If your workload and the needs of the business permit you to take vacation at a particular time, take your vacation and spend it however you want, sabbatical or otherwise.

  4. I disagree about having to “sell” an employer by calling your vacation a sabbatical. Assuming you’re using vacation time you have on the books, and your projects or responsibilities are up to date, then there should be no “sell” involved. I take vacations where I totally leave the job behind, and they are much more renewing than time off brushing up on job related skills.

    Plus, I’m not sure how taking a week off to pave a driveway would be a better sell to a supervisor than just saying you’re going on vacation? Unless you’re in the bricklaying business!

  5. And if your vacation was use-it-or-lose-it, why couldn’t you just take a vacation? Why do you have to justify taking that time by promising to do something productive? Maybe things are different in Canada, but owed vacation time doesn’t just disappear at the end of a job. I’m pretty sure it’s paid out to the employee regardless.

    I enjoy every minute of my vacation time, whether I spend the time working on something productively or I spend the time lounging at the beach with a slushy drink and a novel. I would never have unused vacation time — I find it essential to my mental health and overall wellbeing as a productive (and very busy) employee.

    Again, I agree with a lot of your points, Trent. Using time productively can be very valuable. I just find these points couched in a very strange argument.

  6. I’m taking 3 weeks off to go to Costa Rica to learn Spanish and surf. And my boss doesn’t care what I do when I’m on vacation, just as long as I have the vacation days available.

  7. I agree with everyone else that you shouldn’t have to “sell” your vacation plans to your supervisor. My supervisor has to approve my requests for vacation time, but that’s only so that everyone in the office doesn’t go on vacation all at once. Once my request is approved, it’s nobody’s business what I choose to do with that time.

    Also, travel to unfamiliar places can build skills and leave you with a sense of accomplishment too. If your line of work involves interacting with people in other countries, for example, then international travel would increase your value as an employee at least as much as paving your driveway would.

  8. I’ve always told my employees that their vacation time is part of their compensation. Just as they never say, “No thanks, not this week!” when payday rolls around, so they should never let vacation time expire.

    It’s nice that you have such a warm relationship with your boss, but I’d say that’s the exception rather than the rule. And I caution young people against sharing too much personal information with their bosses — especially about future career plans outside their company. It’s not professional, and it may harm your progress within the company if your bosses know you plan to leave — even in the fairly distant future.

  9. Upon second read, I find the post kind of funny. I guess the idea of having random, unused vacation days lying around and thinking to myself “hmmm, what will I do with this vacation?” is very foreign to me, particularly in the US since we get so little VC time to begin with. Now, not having nearly enough vacation days to accomplish all the projects, travel, rest & relaxation I’d love to do…that’s something I can relate to!

  10. I totally agree on planning specific projects for vacation periods. Mine are always sports-related – in winter, it’s about improving my skiing with a specific skill, and in summer, I usually have at least one summit climb and a number of hikes mapped out. I train all year to condition myself for these undertakings, as I am nearly 45, so the fitness to do this doesn’t come automatically any longer. This also means my plans are also a good motivator to keep going to the gym, and cycling to work.

    That said, I have learned a long time ago that the less I say to my boss about these projects, the better. She would invariably get vision of me falling off a mountainside and breaking my neck. So, even though my projects are also a valuable learning experience for my job (everything I have learned about risk assesment I know from mountaineering), I keep the details as vague as I can around the water cooler, never mind the boss’s office. ;-)

  11. Others have said it first, but I’ll reinforce it: your boss has no say in how you spend your vacation time. You are entitled to it, and if you want to spend it on the couch watching reruns of Friends, so be it.

    A friend of mine took some vacation time that he was entitled to, and his supervisor had the nerve to tell him, on his last day of work before vacation, “not to go too far away, they mind need him”. I was outraged on his behalf – if work was that hectic, they could have asked if it was possible to change dates or something… but once they are approved? Tough luck.

    As a freelancer, I give myself my own vacation time, which I use for travel (which is never mindless). I do mini-sabbaticals as well, but that’s usually when work is slow. I plan them around deadlines and expected projects, but my clients have no say in how I spend my vacations or how many days I take (although I do warn them). They don’t care if I have to work several weekends and holidays in a row, why would I have to “sell” them one month of vacation or whatever?

    This is a touchy subject for me, as I have been witnessing the progressive erosion of workers’ rights in my country, and I’m getting tired of seeing people bending over and giving up their rights.

  12. A sabbatical is typically an unpaid leave of absence that lasts several months to one year, a concept that most employees need to convince their employers to approve in order to remain gainfully employed.

    Earned vacation time? Not so much.

  13. If a job ever did not let me use my vacation time to go on vacation (assuming adequate notice), that would be my last day with that company.

  14. Y’all be glad you’re not lawyers in private practice – at a lot of law firms (not mine thank God, but I hear a lot from friends), it can be really difficult to take your vacation time and there can be significant pushback from your employers if you try to.

  15. I think there is value in taking a vacation. We are very focused on productivity in North America. Sometimes relaxing and recharging are necessary activities. They don’t produce anything tangible, but they contribute to better mental health! If you find it relaxing to reshingle your roof on your vacation, then fill your boots, but if you want to just sit and be, that is okay too.

    I have a stressful job that I work hard at 49 weeks a year. The three weeks I get off for vacation are spent traveling, spending time with family, sleeping, reading, and relaxing. I come back a much happier and more productive employee. It’s a win win for me and my company.

  16. marta —

    I agree with you about workers giving up rights. It’s one of those things that happens bit by bit without anybody really paying attention.

    I guard my vacation time and weekends ferociously. I will not check my work-related e-mail when I’m not at work and I am not available to my employer during my vacation, period. In my job, nothing is so urgent that either a) somebody else in my office can’t manage it, or b) it can’t wait until I get back. I would be furious if my boss told me to stay close because they might need me. Quite frankly, if one person is so essential to the business, perhaps that company needs a new business model with more safety net built in.

  17. To generalize I think Americans need more vacation time. We don’t get that much to start with and what we do get isn’t always used. I’m lucky to have an employer that gives relatively generous paid vacation and its ‘use it or lose it’ so I always use it.

  18. here, people like to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s (I don’t, it’s nice and quiet then.)

    But you need to make sure there’s coverage, that would be a scenerio where you could lose it if you didn’t use it.

    I like to keep a rough idea of how many days I have so I use them all, though! I don’t like to use them on things like digging sod or cleaning the basement, though. Those things are what weekends are for.

  19. @15 in that case telling then you’re going to pave the driveway wouldn’t work, huh?

    Never had a prob taking leave. There are some jobs where seniority rules and u get first pick but those places aren’t saying you can’t use leave…

  20. #5 Riki said : “Maybe things are different in Canada, but owed vacation time doesn’t just disappear at the end of a job. I’m pretty sure it’s paid out to the employee regardless.”

    Yes its different here in the USA.

    The USA is the only industrialized nation without paid vacation law. We have no legal rights to any vacation and there is no requirement that any vacation be paid. We do have family leave laws but that is separate from vacation.

    Most people do get some vacation, but 2 weeks is typical and its frequently not paid.

    At my company as a salaried employee there is no ‘banking’ of vacation and nothing is paid out automatically. If you don’t take your vacation in a given year you literally lose it. In some groups it can be difficult to schedule your vacation and people get pressure not to take it but thats not typical. Generally people take vacation every year as they see fit (scheduling and coverage permitting). But this is just my company.

  21. I’m rather surprised at the number of people that don’t have trouble taking their vacation time. That has been an issue in most jobs I have had. And if you didn’t have a specific plan – forget it. You would be called in everytime.

  22. @Riki – Yes, here in the US vacation time does “disappear” at the end of a job, and often at the end of the calendar year as well if it is untaken. At my work, we can accrue only 300 hours of vacation time. If we hit that cap and don’t take it, everything above it is forfeited at the end of the calendar year. (For many, the cap is much lower that that, too.)

  23. I’m self-employed now, but in the many years when I worked for various companies, my vacation time always rolled over from one year to the next, and if I left a job with vacation time still on the books, it was paid to me at my regular salary/hourly wage. Yes, I’m in the U.S. — but it sure sounds like I lucked out in terms of what my employers were willing to do in terms of vacation benefits. I assumed it was law! My experiences was the same in several different sectors I’ve worked in: private insurance industry, county government, state government, and non-profit, and in several different states (California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Ohio).

    Also, requesting time off was never a matter of seeking permission. You had to ask so the supervisor could make sure everyone wasn’t gone at the same time, but it was a given that you could use your vacation time, no justification needed.

    Final thought: if I were really using time to increase my value to a company, that should be paid time. I’ve been sent to workshops and trainings relevant to my job and no way would I have used vacation time to count those trainings as “sabbatical”!

  24. This article perfectly reflects the American attitude towards vacations…we don’t take them. It seems like you were almost forced to take time off; time you were entitled to, that you’d earned. Not only that, you didn’t have any idea what you should do with that time off. Finally, it’s your time, what difference does it make that you use it for a vacation? Rested workers are productive workers. Vacations are good for the soul. People need time to step away from work and life, otherwise they’ll burn out.

    It’s a disgrace that Americans don’t value time off more. Instead, we’re focused on earning money to buy Stuff we don’t need, and climbing the corporate ladder so we can earn more money to buy more Stuff…and sacrificing time and energy to do so.

    While a sabbatical isn’t a bad idea, I think vacations are just as important, if not MORE important. Take time to step away and enjoy yourself more often. Life isn’t always about work, schedules and climbing ladders.

  25. Just want to chime in that I have also worked at several companies where you would lose any vacation time if you didn’t use it by the end of the year. They also had specific rules (per company) about whether you would be paid for unused vacation time if you left the company permanently – some pay you for it, some only pay a limited amount and you lose the rest.

    I also worked at one place where everyone got two weeks of vacation a year, but you were not allowed to take both weeks at once – you had to split it up. And get approval at least a month in advance for your dates.

  26. I find it funny that so many people here find a sabbatical so different from a vacation. Sabbaticals are about purposefully rejuvinating yourself, as are vacations – it’s just that we tend to use our sabbaticals more consciously, with an objective in mind. It’s possible to be revived by “work” you enjoy. In my mind, it’s a very (north) American idea that the only way to relax is to do nothing.

    Also, on the “asking persmission” front, I had assumed that Trent was talking about (a) jobs where you may need to negotiate time off (as in, only so many people can take time off at any given time, and you need to plead your case as to why you need it on XYZ dates), or (b) jobs where it is possible to have a formal sabbatical AS WELL AS your vacation, such as when a former boss gave me a week off work (with pay) to attend a conference and some personal development workshops I wanted to go to.

    Finally, not everyone in Canada gets vacation, although it’s my understanding that those who don’t (often) get paid in lieu.

  27. @27 – Jessie

    I believe 2% vacation pay is mandatory. That works out to about 2 weeks per year. Some employers hold it for you and you can effectively draw from that bank for paid vacation, others pay it out on every cheque.

  28. I just can’t imagine my boss saying “Johanna and Bert have both requested vacation time during the same week. Since Johanna wants to spend her week practicing the concertina, whereas Bert wants to spend his on the beach in the south of France, Johanna’s request is approved and Bert’s is denied.” Are there really employers that do this? If so, then I’m more relieved than I ever realized that I don’t work for one of them.

    It seems to me that the only fair way to choose between people who want to take vacations at the same time is based on who asks first.

  29. I agree with lurker carl- a sabbatical is not a vacation. A Sabbatical is normally a “longer than typical vacation” leave that is unpaid that is sometimes, but not necessarily, filled with professional pursuits. A vacation is normally 2 paid weeks off/year, maybe more after a certain number of years with a company. Not mandatory, but normal contract.

    It is none of my employers business how I use my time outside of work, vacation or otherwise, unless I am a 24/7 slave. Or a brown-noser, and want to impress the boss that I never relax, but think about my proficiencies constantly, in which they might initially take notice, but later think me very dependent on the job for personal worth- a bad leveraging move.

    And I also agree that voluntarily turning vacation into “what can I do to make myself seem of more value to my employer” is way out of whack with my personal values. The idea that you have to “sell” your vacation time as something else is way too prostrate for a professional relationship. You want do self-improvement?Fine. But don’t start shifting that line in the sand toward all time = bosses time. It hurts all of us. It’s a slippery slope to servitude.

  30. You had to ask your boss what to do with your time? My only guess to that type of question to your boss would be that I guess you were young and not used to vacation, because I cannot ever imagine asking my boss what I should do with my vacation time.

    If I wanted to roof my house, I would or if I wanted to go out of town or stay home to laze around, I would. I think the last thing I would do is try to further my career skills. I want that time to get away from work to refresh. It’s none of his/her business.

    I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this post. But we’re all different.

  31. I would love to take a sabbatical from my job… but my job is stay-at-home mom to a toddler and an infant. Significant time off is not going to happen any time soon. Right now, I’m negotiating with a babysitter so that I can have a scheduled 3-hour break once a week.

    I’m not bitter; I know this is only a short season in my life. But, like any job, it gets harder to do a good job and enjoy yourself when you don’t take time off.

  32. All you folks be glad you’ve got jobs where you can freely take vacations and do whatever you want when you take them. The work climate has changed to favor the employer, and many of them are taking advantage. Many employees are indirectly pressured to voluntarily forgo a lot of their entitlements (breaks, lunches away from their desk, vacations, etc.) to show how “dedicated” they are in the hope of keep their jobs. My last job was at a sales company where “working vacations” were common and the manager regularly called employees at home any time (weekends, vacation, day off, at 10pm, or whenever) to discuss some work related issue. I made sure that nobody in management knew my phone number! When the company downsized, this same manager called some of the laid off employees at home on a Saturday morning to tell them they had lost their jobs (not me–they told me face-to-face on a Monday, probably because they didn’t have my phone number). But one salesman who had transferred from another division had some vacation time coming up, and he made sure the manager knew how he used his vacation time to take an intensive course to improve his skills for the company. This guy not only got a promotion handed to him, but he is one of the few people who didn’t get laid off when the company downsized. That’s how it is at a lot of companies, unfortunately.

  33. Larabara,
    Yes, but the more people who jump on that bandwagon, the more your horrible work situation will become the norm. It is wise to hold onto what ever personal time one has. We are each partially repsponsible for the whole in a society.

    It’s interesting that this post came when Trent is work-at-home, and can take trips when he finds convenient. I doubt that if he worked 50 weeks/year now, with little time for his 3 children, if his priority would be the employer on his vacation, rather than relaxed family time. It sounds like advice from the pre-child mindset.

  34. The more comments I read, the more amazed I am at labour laws in the US — I already knew that many employees only had two weeks off, but I had no idea there weren’t any mandatory vacations laws. From my European perspective, it’s truly boggling.

    For all I complain about my own country, companies have to give their employees a minimum of 22 days of *paid* vacations, which translates into one month of vacations per year.

    It’s not unheard of to take two or three weeks off at once, either.

  35. @kristine: While I’m really, really glad I don’t work for an employer like Larabara’s, I don’t fault the people who do for doing whatever they need to do to keep their jobs.

    I think I’ve said enough elsewhere about what I think of blaming individuals for societal problems, and of the notion that everyone’s in full control of his own destiny, so if anything bad happens to you, it’s all your fault. So I’ll just say that this is no exception.

  36. My experience is that vacation priority is based on first-come-first-served except for the most popular times (like days adjoining a holiday). In those cases, once the first person has made their request, a survey is done to find all the people who would like to take those days off and, when too many people from one area want to take off, either seniority or a taking-turns approach is used. It’s never based on what someone wants to do (except for the occasional once-in-a-lifetime opportunity).

    **

    But, back to the subject of the post (what to do with vacation time when you don’t already have ideas): I definitely like the message to a) take the vacation time anyway and b) look beyond the traditional ideas. I like to travel on my days off, but I get one week a year between Christmas and New Years during which I do not want to travel (because it’s too expensive and cold, plus most of my friends have to work). Sometimes I just do whatever I want (sleep in every day, exercise every day, make the bed every day…). Other times, I do pick out a project (like adding shelves to the pantry or painting the linen closet). One thing I’ve learned is that I have to make sure I have all my supplies and instructions ahead of time because most specialty retail establishments are closed (though the big-box stores are open).

  37. Johanna,

    I think it comes down to integrity. If you feel it is wrong to have to spend personal time on the employer instead of the family, then don’t.

    Or if you providing for the family to be an overriding principle, then do, but be aware of what you are teaching your children to expect for themselves as adults, and contributing to the trend.

    As for me, I have the luxury of my basic needs being met, and an emergency fund, so I do not feel compelled to donate my personal or family time to a corporation. I understand that others do not have that luxury.

  38. I have been at my employer long enough to have earned more vacation, but there are still rules about how it can be taken (one full week must be taken, then the rest however, based on staff availability). Now that my husband is self employed, though, vacations just don’t happen. Yay, I get a free day to stay home and do laundry…

  39. My unused vacation days roll over from one year to the next but then expire in March. I’m in Canada but I work for an American company for what it’s worth.

    So if I get 4 weeks this year and I still have 1 week left on Dec 31 then those days roll over until March of next year when theoretically they vapourize. In practice the company is pretty flexible though.

    No problems taking time off here either, I don’t have to “sell” anyone on it. There are certain meetings or conferences and such that I really should be present for but those are relatively few and far between and for the most part if I want particular time off I just take it.

    Unused vacation time has never been a problem for me though, there are always trips that I want to take and when I find that I have time left over I have no qualms at all taking a day or two off for no reason at all.

    I always figure that as long as I’m accomplishing something most of then time then I need no justification at all to spend some of the time accomplishing very little or nothing.

  40. A little clarification here, and sorry about the long post: I admit that I had good health benefits at my former employer, but I am very glad to say that I am no longer at that company. It is a large, internationally known corporation, but the downturn in the economy affected it so severely that lately they’ve been laying off employees every 6 months.

    I survived 3 rounds of layoffs before they got to me, and there has been another round of layoffs after I left. I was sad but relieved to be let go and be able to look for a job in a more secure field.

    As I said, many companies are taking advantage of the bad economy to wring every shred of energy from their employees. Experts are saying that once the economy improves it will backfire in the form of “employee churn”.

    The poor overworked employees have no loyalty to their employers, and will bolt at the first chance at a better opportunity. The companies will have to continually train new hires who will then bolt at their first chance at a better job, too. Then the conditions will get better as companies try to keep their employees from constantly quitting on them.

    But for now, it’s a very stressful environment for a lot of U.S. workers….

  41. To clarify: “sabbatical” is a term that initially referred to an academic practice. When a university professor in the US had worked 7 years, he (in the old days it was mostly he) was entitled to either a semester or a year off, WITH pay. It was expected that the time would be spent in one academic pursuit or another: doing research, writing papers, or in some other way increasing one’s knowledge of one’s discipline/teaching subject.

    Personally, I had an unscheduled (and unpaid) sabbatical when I was awarded a Fulbright professorship for a term and my university gave me unpaid leave because it was an honor and they listed such awards as part of a faulty member’s vitae. My host university paid me a stipend (for teaching courses, consulting with their faculty, and reviewing their curriculum) and provided housing and while my home university didn’t “pay” me salary, my health and other benefits continued and they contributed to my retirement account as though I were being paid. When i got back my university PR office generated a number of newspaper articles and such to publicize the fact that they had faculty who were internationally regarded as expert.

    A couple years later, I had a scheduled sabbatical, and I had to write a proposal for the work i would do while not teaching my normal course load. During that sabbatical period, I wrote a new curriculum for a BS program, as well as the syllabus for four new courses. I got my usual pay and benefits. I still did my usual committeee work on campus, but hadd no classroom or advising responsibilities. And I wrote the expected detailed report about the research that had gone into the new proposals.

  42. “taking a week off to pave your driveway” is SOOO not a sabbatical. Gimme a break please!

    At least research the meaning of sabbatical before writing about it!

  43. Lou,
    Thank you for spelling it out. In academia that is exactly what it is- time out of the classroom, but you are expected to produce. That is when hubby wrote book 2- on a scheduled sabbatical. Non-academics use the term very loosely.

  44. Trent – apparently no one read the first paragraph of your message. You were leaving the job, had to leave it in good condition and would be losing what vacation you had. But you had a good boss who checked that you were okay and said to use your vacation time to prepare for your new job. I didn’t realize that so many people could be so off base.

    As for me, I had a job with a state agency, got 10 days a year at first and later 15 days. They were all paid. I was also paid for 223 hours when I retired. I did once have a job that paid you for 12-15 days a year, but it was lost if you didn’t use it. I made certain I used it each year. It wasn’t hard to schedule, as there were only 2 employees in my branch.

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