Monday, January 19, 2009

Wish You Were Here: Logan employees use vacation days as currency

As the recession deepens, a benefit that allows workers to sell their vacation days could prove popular among workers, although may raise challenges for benefit pros.

Employees at the Logan International Airport are reaping the benefits of "selling back" up to three weeks of their unused vacation time, fattening their paychecks by up to 6%.

According to The Boston Globe, about 300 union workers and management employees trade in vacation days for cash, costing the public agency that runs the airport $750,000 annually.

Some 30% of the group's 1,200 employees sell back their vacation days; however, 70% of the longest tenured employees trade in unused leave, hoping to increase their salary. Public workers typically receive 80% of their salary as a pension payment.

However, the program isn't receiving rave reviews from all HR/benefits experts. "It's an abuse. It's not right, and the public deserves better," Fred Foulkes, a Boston University professor and director of the university's Human Resources Policy Institute told the Globe.

Additionally, the perk can prove difficult to monitor among higher management. "Nobody asks a top manager for a doctor's note when he's out sick, for example. There's a high level of trust. You assume a lot. And that's risky," adds Foulkes.

What do you think? Is this a benefit you would consider offering your workforce, as the economy worsens? Could it prove valuable even in fatter economic times? Share your comment below.

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