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Employee Benefits

Who receives paid vacations?

Whether you're hitting the road or enjoying a staycation, taking advantage of paid vacations is one way to maintain a healthy work–life balance. Paid vacations are leave from work, or pay in lieu of time off, provided on an annual basis and normally taken in blocks of days or weeks. The National Compensation Survey – Benefits publishes estimates on the percentage or workers with access to paid leave and the number of days available after completing years of service.

Service requirements for paid vacation leave

Paid vacation leave is generally granted to employees after they meet specified service requirements (for instance, 90 days, 6 months, and 12 months). The number of vacation days granted each year may vary by length of service. In 2021, more than one–third of private industry workers received 10 to 14 days of paid vacation after one year of service. After 10 years of service, 33 percent of private industry workers received between 15 and 19 days of paid vacation. (See chart 1.)

Table 1. Percentage of private industry workers with number of annual paid vacation days by service requirement, March 2021
Service requirement Less than 5 days 5 to 9 days 10 to 14 days 15 to 19 days 20 to 24 days Greater than 24 days

After 1 year

8% 31% 34% 18% 7% 2%

After 5 years

3% 12% 30% 32% 16% 7%

After 10 years

2% 8% 18% 33% 23% 17%

After 20 years

2% 8% 14% 20% 29% 28%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey


Access to paid vacation leave by characteristic

Access to paid vacation leave varies by worker and establishment characteristics. Worker characteristics include full– and part–time, bargaining status (union and nonunion), average wages within percentile categories, and occupational groups. Establishment characteristics include industry, size class, and geographic area. Paid vacation leave was available to 95 percent of manufacturing workers and financial activities workers. (See chart 2.)

Table 2. Percentage of private industry workers with access to paid vacation, March 2021
Industry Access

Leisure and hospitality


Other services


Trade, transportation, and utilities


Professional and business services




Education and health services






Financial activities


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey


Paid vacation leave was available to 92 percent of private industry workers in the largest establishments (those with 500 workers or more). In the smallest private industry establishments (1–49 workers), 71 percent had access. In state and local government, 63 percent of workers in the smallest establishments (1–49 workers) had access to paid vacation leave. (1)

Table 3. Percentage of workers with access to paid vacation leave by establishment size, March 2021
Establishment size Private industry State and local government

1 to 49 workers

71% 63%

50 to 99 workers

76% 48%

100 to 499 workers

87% 61%

500 workers or more

92% 64%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey


Consolidated leave plans

In consolidated leave plans, different types of leave are combined and used interchangeably within a single plan. In the private industry professional and technical services sector, 71 percent of workers had access to consolidated leave plans.

Table 4. Percentage of private industry workers with access to consolidated leave plans, March 2021
Worker characteristic Access to consolidated leave plans

All workers










Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey



BLS first started publishing statistics on paid vacation as part of the 1979 pilot study on Employee Benefits in Industry. Estimates for employer-sponsored benefits prior to 2010 are available through the EBS publications page. March 2021 estimates were published on September 23, 2021. Join the BLS Mailing Lists to receive notification of the latest data releases.

Additional resources:



The glossary of employee benefit terms provides definitions for plans, provisions, coverage, and related terms. The National Compensation Measures Handbook of Methods provides information on the survey design, calculations, weighting, and imputation methods used to produce compensation estimates. The calculation section includes information on the measures of reliability available for each estimate.

Historical data

Estimates on the cost, coverage, and provisions of employer–sponsored benefit plans from 2010 to 2021 are available through the Excel dataset, and public database. Historical data are available on the publications page. Benefit estimates are not a time series and users are advised to consider changes in survey design, survey scope, estimation methods, weighting, and sample rotation when analyzing the data.

End notes

(1) Incidence of employee benefits in state and local government should not be compared directly to private industry due to differences in industry sector composition. For example, administrative support and professional occupations (including teachers) account for two–thirds of the state and local government workforce. Teachers typically have a work schedule of 37 to 38 weeks per year. Because of this work schedule, they’re generally not offered vacations or holidays and time off during winter and spring breaks during the school year are not counted as vacation days, which is reflected in the estimates.


Last Modified Date: September 23, 2021