Fear Of Layoffs Preventing Vacations

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

May 27, 2009

Many workers are avoiding taking time off this summer because of fears that doing so could lead to job loss.

Cindy Goodman, a Miami Herald business columnist, told CNN that people are worried that a temporary vacation could lead to permanent time off. "The people who still have a job are really feeling overwhelmed and overworked," she said. "They're afraid to take vacations, but at the same time, they need them more than ever."

But Christine Louise Holbaum, author of "The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World," pointed out that ultimately employees who don't take vacation hurt themselves and their companies. She noted that places of business suffer when employees become too tired or ill to effectively do their jobs.

"If people are overworked, they're surfing the Internet," she said. "They're not contributing to the bottom line."

John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, stressed the importance of remaining on the job even while on vacation. He recommended staying in touch by using a cell phone, laptop, pager and BlackBerry.

"It is critical that vacationing employees stay connected while out of the office," he told The Detroit News. "Being out of sight could lead to being out of a job."

Yet Penelope Trunk, who writes a blog about careers, disagreed. "You don't change whether you have a grip on your career by skipping vacation," she pointed out. "You just look desperate and you definitely don't want to look desperate in a downturn."

Some experts recommend taking some time off in a more limited way. Goodman suggested, for example, that workers reluctant to take extended vacations consider planning four-day weekends instead.

Workers concerned about job loss due to time off may feel more reassured with the increasingly-popular layoff insurance deals companies are promoting: The Charlotte Observer reports that many companies are offering to take care of payments should a customer be faced with job loss. JetBlue Airways, for example, gives customers a full refund if they booked vacation packages and are laid off.

"It's a very smart angle to come from," said Mike Gatti, executive director of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association. "People are very concerned and it really gives you more of a comfort level if you are thinking of buying a car or going on vacation."

Other companies offering assurances to employees include Ford, who will cover car payments for 12 months for those who unexpectedly lose their jobs, and GM, who will take care of payments for nine months. Similarly, the Chicago Tribune reports that some real estate companies are advertising similar deals. The California Association of Realtors, for example, will pay qualifying homeowners' mortgages of up to $1,500 a month if they lose their jobs.

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