Buy-Sell Vacation Programs growing in popularity - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Buy-Sell Vacation Programs growing in popularity

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Are you drooling over a dream trip to the islands, but don't have any vacation days left? Or are you so overwhelmed on the job that you can't even imagine leaving for one hour? Well what if you could buy or sell your vacation days? As News 19's Kacey Persson reports, it's an option that's growing more and more popular in work places around the country.

Jeffe Kennedy and her husband love all kinds of getaways. From fun in the sun and sightseeing to shopping for local artwork to fill their home.

Jeffe Kennedy, a vacation enthusiast says, "I run out of vacation time every year."

But that's not a problem, since Jeffe's company offers a buy-sell vacation program that allows her to purchase an extra week of vacation time every year.

JEFFE: "It's absolutely worth it to me to pay out of pocket for the extra time off."

According to Payscale, a company that conducts job related research, the average American worker receives about two and a half weeks of vacation time each year. Not enough for some. Too much for others.

But according to Julie Stich, an expert on employee benefit plans, with buy-sell programs, also known as cafeteria plans, everyone gets what they need.

Julie Stich from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans says, "I think employees like the flexibility of being able to decide how many days they want to take off."

A recent Mercer's Absence Management Survey found 14% of companies now allow employees to buy or sell their vacation days through payroll deductions or credits. Managers say it's a great way to build employee loyalty especially in tough economic times.

Brian Cook of USG Corporation says, "About half of employees will buy a week of vacation each year. Only about 10% will sell a week."

Some companies also offer a third option: donating unused vacation time to charity.

JULIE: "Employees who have extra days they can't use can give them back to the employer who converts that into a cash value and then writes a check in that amount to a charity."

Other businesses offer the chance to donate to fellow workers.

JULIE: "Another employee who may be suffering a personal crisis can tap that pool and have additional time off."

As for Jeffe, she already has big plans for her extra vacation this year. An extended trip to Ireland.

JEFFE: "It's not much point in making the money if you can't use it to do something really interesting."

When employees sell their unused vacation days back, they'll normally receive an extra paycheck with all the usual deductions.

However, companies can also offer them the option to contribute the cash to their 401K.

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