Faculty and staff: Plan a trip in 2019

Winter in Chicago often provides motivation for planning your next getaway. Each January, the Office of Human Resources likes to remind faculty and staff about the university's vacation policies in hopes of employees getting the most out of their vacation benefit. 

Americans are renowned for not taking full advantage of their vacation benefits. After falling to a low of only 16 days of vacation used by the average American worker in 2013, this number has been steadily rising​. This is a welcome trend.  

The famous Framingham Heart Study was a long-term cardiovascular study begun in 1948 to analyze adult subjects who were at risk of heart disease. When the researchers looked at the effects of vacations on subjects followed over a nine-year period, researchers found a positive correlation between more frequent vacations and longer, healthier lives. Vacation time is proven to shrink stress and anxiety.​

Vacation policy

DePaul's carryover policy, which changed from two weeks to one week in 2013, may be a good reason to think strategically about utilizing vacation days throughout the year. A common complaint or misunderstanding regarding the change in the carryover policy is that it prevents employees from taking their full vacation allotment because of the university's vacation accrual method.

DePaul accrues vacation on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year. This accrual method gives some employees the impression that they cannot take a significant amount of their vacation time until later in the year when their vacation accrual is greater. However, as the illustration below suggests, significant amounts of vacation can be taken starting in the first quarter of the year and  throughout the year when coupled with a week of carryover from the previous year, a week or more of accrued vacation earned, and an additional "advanced or borrowed" week. The university's vacation policy allows staff employees to borrow up to five days against their future vacation earnings.

Plan your vacations and maximize your days. It's a win-win. Carve out more time for leisure and travel, and realize the important benefits of taking advantage of your vacation days and leaving less unused. 

To better help you maximize your vacation days, we've created an example: Our employee 'Dee Paul' has 10 years of service with the university and has earned four weeks of paid vacation. Dee and her spouse are going on a three-week adventure to New Zealand in April 2019. The chart below illustrates that Dee could use three weeks of vacation on April 1 (one week carried over, one week accrued, one week borrowed/advanced). If the carry over and advanced week are not used in April, they would continue to be available throughout the year resulting in Dee being able to use all of her vacation before the end of the calendar year.

Example: Dee Paul's 3-week European vacation

​​ ​Jan. 1 April 1​ ​July 1 Oct. 1​
​Accrual week(s) ​0 ​1 ​2 ​3
​Carry-over week ​1 1 1 1
​Advanced week ​1 ​1 ​1 ​1 (Advance of Oct. - Dec. accrual)
​Total weeks ​2 weeks ​3 weeks ​4 weeks ​5 weeks​
Start planning now

To get a general idea of workforce availability for the year, HR encourages all managers to start the year by inquiring about vacation plans for employees. Not every employee in a department can be on vacation at the same time and certain departments have "peak periods" when it is not feasible for employees to be away from work. Getting a sense of vacation plans and work demands early in the year ensures that vacations are used and avoids frustration for everyone: employees, managers and department colleagues.

Once that's done, the fun part begins: deciding where to go and what to do.  

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