Most people look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its monthly employment report to understand the job market. While that is probably the best measure, there are other important signs, including how employers are treating employees and job candidates. A few months ago, I noted that almost every job posting now includes a list of benefits offered to new employees. Some are even listing a salary.
Employee retention is equally important. Bloomberg reports that some employers are now encouraging employees to use PTO and vacation time. A few employers are even paying bonus that employees can use during a vacation. Others offer “unlimited vacation.” These are the same companies who laid off so many workers that those who were spared worked extra hours and skipped vacation days. Now, as the job market tightens and employers still do not want to raise wages, vacation is a perk used to keep employees without increasing labor budgets.
If you’re asking for a raise or trying to negotiate salary with a new employer, think about vacation as a bargaining chip. If an employer cannot give you a higher wage, ask for an extra week of vacation or PTO. This is a good time to talk about time off.
A compromise bill has passed the New York City Council to require employers to give employees sick days. What’s surprising about this – or maybe not surprising – is that very few American workers receive sick days. Daily Kos has published a map of countries that require sick days. Once again, the U.S. does not follow the pattern of most developed countries. Workers in the U.S. are under attack. We need to look at other countries and look at our own history. It’s time to fight back.