Stressed workers fail to use 34 million vacation days | National Union of Public and General Employees

Stressed workers fail to use 34 million vacation days

Employers reap gains worth $6.03 billion but the cost in employee burnout is significant.

Ottawa (18 May 2009) - Nearly 25% of all Canadian workers are failing to take full annual vacations, resulting in an estimated 34 million unused vacation days every year.

A new Harris/Decima survey says this amounts to workers handing back $6.03 billion dollars in wages to employers, and is associated with significant stress in the workplace. In total, 42% of respondents reported feeling stressed, tired and deprived of vacation time, up from 33% a year ago, the poll found.

The results showed that 13% of all respondents felt their work had become their life and that they were too busy to take vacation time. Others felt guilty about taking time off and others refrained because of the economy. Still others, would take holidays only if they could keep in touch electronically.

"The stress associated with the current economy and impact on the workplace makes the need for time away from work even more important," Beverly Beuermann-King, an Ontario stress and wellness expert, told Canwest News Service.

"The economy has put people in a position where they don't feel like they can take vacation," adds Karen Seward, a senior vice-president with workplace health consulting firm Shepell-fgi. "It makes it impossible for people ... to know that they can come back and everything will be fine."

While companies are reaping a windfall from unused vacation time, the downside is a cost they pay in employee burnout.

"We're seeing increasing rates of burnout, stress," says Seward, whose company provides workplace health and wellness programs.

"Mental nervous disorders is now the top claim for disability that insurance carriers are seeing and a lot of it is people who don't know how to take a break. We're spending all this money on health and wellness initiatives, (but) one of the best health and wellness initiatives is encouraging people to take the time," she adds.

NUPGE survey

NUPGE is conducting a survey regarding the high degree of stress that women are under balancing the responsibilities at work and at home.  The survey is part of a NUPGE project to identify the issues and raise awareness of the problem.  The survey is directed to union and non-union women. Please click here to complete the survey.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
The stress of balancing personal life with work life
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