This occurs with all the holiday days that had been by no means used

Around 60% of the workforce is remote due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The coronavirus has improved the way many workers do their jobs – whether in person or from home – and has increased the time they spend doing it.

In 2020, the average working day increased by nearly an hour, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Despite the longer working hours, employees also take fewer breaks. Since March, an overwhelming majority of Americans have cut, postponed, or canceled their scheduled time off. This comes from a separate survey of over 2,000 workers in July.

“As your kitchen table becomes your office, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between work and home,” said Claire Barnes, senior vice president of human resources for Monster Worldwide.

“Unfortunately we have seen that more and more workers – in all sectors – do not take vacation and personal time from their employers, be it because of an increased workload or the struggle to achieve a good work-life balance.”

Even before the pandemic, American workers only used about half of their eligible vacation time, according to a study by job and recruitment website Glassdoor.

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Now workers run the risk of losing billions in lost benefits if that time cannot be booked or extended.

According to a report by consultancy Willis Towers Watson, only 42% of companies say they are making changes to vacation policies to add flexibility, including increasing transfer limits for unused free time.

A separate survey by Monster found that nearly two-thirds, or 64% of workers said their employer does not normally allow holiday rollover, and 4 in 5 workers said their employers did not provide leeway due to the coronavirus crisis.

Starting January 1, workers will also lose the federal mandate that requires paid vacation for those suffering from Covid-19.

The CARES Act contained an emergency provision that required qualified employers to offer the service to eligible employees by December 31st. Without this directive there is no national standard for paid family or sick leave.

However, under the provisions of the new aid package, businesses can still apply for a tax credit to subsidize the cost if they choose to grant paid vacation until 2021.

According to Bill Gianoukos, founder and CEO of telemedicine program provider Goodpath, many companies will likely offer this option even without the mandate – just as some will allow workers to extend more unused vacation days.

“Employers understand the importance of living a more balanced life and are more open to ensuring that employees are getting the care they need.”

And yet it will be up to the employees to stand up for themselves, said Gianoukos: “Go back to your employer and request a break.”

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