Survey: Missing Vacation Time Unhealthy For Workers

One in six American employees is so overworked that he or she is\r\nunable to use up annual vacation time, according to a national survey conducted by Oxford Health Plans.

One in six American employees is so overworked that he or she is unable to use up annual vacation time, despite the fact that Americans have the least vacation time in the industrialized world, according to a national survey conducted by Oxford Health Plans.

"This survey is a wakeup call for Amercians to realize that taking a vacation is not frivolous behavior. It''s essential to staying healthy," said Alan Muney, chief medical officer and executive vice president at Oxford Health Plan. "Regular vacations are preventive medicine -- they cut down on stress-related illness and save healthcare dollars."

The survey of 632 men and women shows that, on the job, workers often endure high levels of stress. That stress leads 34 percent of respondents to say they have such pressing jobs that they have no down time at work.

A full 32 percent work and eat lunch at the same time, while another 32 percent never leave the building once they arrive at work. Roughly 19 percent say their job makes them feel older than they are and 17 percent say work cuases them to lose sleep at home.

Oxford''s survey found that one in six American workers (18 percent) is unable to use up annual vacation time due to job demands or a corporate culture that discourages healthy behavior.

The survey also showed that:

  • 70 percent of employers make it easy to keep medical appointments;
  • 68 percent of employers make it easy to return to work after illness;
  • 19 percent of respondents said workplace pressures make them feel they must attend work even when injuried or sick;
  • 17 percent of employees said it is difficult to take time off or leave work in an emergency;
  • 8 percent of workers believe that if they were to become seriously ill, they would be fired or demoted;
  • 14 percent of respondents believe their employer makes it difficult to maintain a healthy diet; and,
  • 14 percent of employees feel company management only promotes people who habitually worked late.

by Melissa Martin

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