A new study found that male employees not only receive an average of 10% more vacation days than their female counterparts and also use them at a rate 33% higher than that of women, who are more likely to eschew their vacation days.
The study was commissioned by Israeli tech startup Sorbet, an innovative new platform used by large organizations to manage and optimize their staff’s vacation days. 1345 full-time employees participated in the study.
While men receive an average of 14.6 vacation days per year, women receive only 13.3 days. The study shows that women also seldom take advantage of the vacation days allotted to them, with men taking a staggering 33% more vacation days than female coworkers.
According to Vital Eilat-Richel, co-founder and CEO of Sorbet, employees sometimes do not feel comfortable asking for vacations at companies that promote hardworking and fast-paced office environments – even if they are entitled to them as part of the agreement. However, the "unpleasant" feeling of asking for vacation days is much more prominent among women, the study argues.
While men receive and take advantage of vacation days more frequently, women actually took sick days 27% more frequently than men. The discrepancy in sick days, however, is likely related to caring for sick children or family members – an onus that is more likely to fall on a woman’s shoulders.
Do employees use all their vacation days?
The study compared the current hybrid employment environment with the work environment that was commonplace before the COVID-19 pandemic introduced work-from-home and hybrid work to the mainstream. The study shockingly found that currently, a shocking 55% of all vacation days are not used at all by the employees.
One of the explanations for the lack of vacation day uptake is the hybrid work model that allows employees to work a portion of the week remotely. 31% of the respondents in the survey said that they feel uncomfortable asking for vacation days in this new hybrid working environment, when they work several days a week from home regardless.
Sorbet explains that the underutilization of vacation days creates a financial challenge for employers, as employees are entitled to receive payment for unused vacation days. This financial commitment adds up at the organizational level, with obligations from US employers resulting from unused vacation days estimated at $318 billion – a 17% increase since 2019.
"The decrease in the desire of employees to exercise their right to vacations requires the attention of managers," says Sorbet co-founder Vital Eilat-Richel. "Employees must be given legitimacy to request and exercise the vacations they fully deserve. The breathing space that vacation days provide is necessary for maintaining motivation at work, productivity and loyalty to the workplace over time.”
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2019, Sorbet uses its platform to analyze vacation patterns in companies and provides detailed and accessible information to employees – including the option to convert unused vacation days into financial compensation. Sorbet’s platform typically leads to a 15% increase in the utilization of vacation days at the organizational level – helping the company balance its expenses and its employees to balance their workloads.
“From an economic point of view, it is also better for organizations not to accumulate heavy financial obligations due to unused vacation days," Eilat-Richel declared.