GCs: 5 Reasons Why It's Time for a Vacation

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on February 24, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Overworked as in-house counsel? Feel yourself burning out? Take a vacation! As you're no doubt already aware, even Americans who get paid vacation days still take the least amount of time off of any OECD members.

We're forfeiting $52 billion a year in paid time off, CNN reports. So we'd better use it, and this goes for you, too! The legal department will survive for a while without you, so here's why you should take that vacation:

1. If You Don't Use It, You Lose It.

In many states, there's nothing stopping PTO from expiring at the end of the year, meaning all those days you accrued vanish come December 31.

In California, however, earned PTO is considered an employment benefit, so it can't be taken away -- at least up to a point. (Usually you can bank up to 150 percent of the annual accruable amount.) Even if you live in a state with this kind of policy, you should still take a vacation, because you don't want all those days to go away, do you?

2. For Your Sanity.

By spending all day worrying about the company, you're not focusing on yourself. "Self care" isn't just a trend social work word; it's something that everyone in high-stress jobs should do all the time. Don't think of a vacation as a luxury that can be avoided; think of it as a requirement for your well-being.

3. Change Your Outlook Toward the Company.

If you're a workaholic, you can become too focused on the company and your job, making it seem like they're more important than they are. By taking a few weeks off, you'll soon discover all that stuff isn't nearly as important as it seems. This can result in a change to your decision-making, as you can suddenly view the company more objectively, from the outside.

4. Your Job Will Still Be There.

One reason many of us don't take vacation is because, thanks to at-will employment, we're afraid the company will realize we're not necessary once we're not there and give us the boot when we return. Don't worry about that. Your value is due to the expertise you bring to the company, not just tasks that can be off-loaded to other people. (And if you are just a task-doer, maybe you should be doing something other than running the legal department.)

5. It's Good for Your Health.

Your happiness at work can have a big effect on your health. The famous Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study that began in 1948, has found that men who didn't take vacations for several years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than men who took a vacation of at least one week a year. That at least suggests that it's not a good idea to work constantly. But you knew that already, hopefully.

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