How Was Your Vacation? You're Fired

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Are you afraid to take a vacation because your job might be gone when you get back? If so, you're in good company.

The worry that an employer might make your vacation permanent - long part of the scenery for financial services workers - has spread to other industries mired in recession. According to CNN:

The bad economy isn't just depleting bank accounts. It's cutting into people's vacation time. Americans typically take time off and kick back during the summer. This year may be different.

CNN's story draws on a blog post by Miami Herald business columnist Cindy Goodman. A group of her own friends told her they weren't planning any summer getaways because they didn't want to risk losing their jobs. What people fear isn't that an employer will punish a worker for taking time off, but that "they'll think of another way of doing my job without me," Goodman says.

A survey this year by travel company Expedia found that about 34 percent of Americans forego at least some of their vacation time each year. That compares with 22 percent of French citizens, 24 percent of Germans, and 92 percent of Japanese.

Some say workers who don't take vacation hurt themselves and their companies. Author Christine Louise Hohlbaum, for one, recommends work groups start taking midday walks together and "explain the upside of the idea to the boss: The company benefits from well-rested workers because they're more productive." (Of course, we wonder how well that approach would work on Wall Street.)

As for Goodman, she shares her friends' concern that a vacation could lead to permanent time off. She told CNN she'll use the Fourth of July weekend for a four-day trip, rather than go away for two weeks like she used to do. "I want to keep my column in the paper every week," she says.