Vacation Days in the US

You’ve decided to invest in your future by doing an internship in the US. Sure you’re here to learn and advance your career, but you will be here for a while. Maybe six months, nine months, or even a year or more. That’s a long time with only the weekends to explore. Maybe you want more time off to see more of the US than where you’re living, go on a road trip with some friends, or you want to return home for the holidays. As we say in the US, you want to take a vacation.

No big deal right? Not so fast – you may not have the same flexibility and time off that you had back home.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, paid vacation time is NOT required by employers in the US! That’s right – there is no minimum amount of paid vacation you are entitled to. In fact, unless it is specifically stated in your contract ahead of time, you may not even be entitled to any additional time off at all during your program.

What can you do about it?

Now that you know vacation is not an entitlement, even if it is back home there are a few things you can do:

  • Review your placement contract and see if you can answer these questions.
    • Does it have anything about vacation or holiday time in it?
    • How much time off can you get?
    • If you have time off, is it paid or not?
    • How do you ask for the time off?
  • If you don’t have a formal agreement in writing – ask the above questions and see if the company is willing to give you time off and if they will make an agreement with you.
  • Make sure you request time off in advance, and in the appropriate manner. If the company requires you send an email to Human Resources at least one week in advance, don’t expect your trip tomorrow to be approved if you just stop by the office as you leave for the day.
  • Even if your vacation request is not approved, acting entitled, or leaving anyways is not recommended. This will reflect poorly on you, and may even get you fired.
  • If you plan on using your vacation to go abroad, don’t forget to check out our page on International Travel.