5 Reasons Not to Rollover Your Vacation Days

As the end of the year approaches, ask yourself if you want to rollover or not rollover your remaining vacation days? First find out if you are even allowed to rollover unused vacation days from this calendar year into the new year. It may be permitted with set limits or your time off policy may stop you from doing so. In other words you’ll lose those earned days off.

Why Not to Rollover Vacation Days (5 reasons)

If and how you can roll-over leftover vacation days will be defined in your HR benefits guide or employee handbook. Check your inbox for a copy of the most recent employee handbook PDF or a link to the HR benefits portal. The vacation leave rules should be well defined whether you have a time off bank called PTO or a traditional number of vacation days for the year. The handbook should also specify how many days you can rollover (if any) and the rules that limit the number of days and when you must use them by. In some cases you may be able to roll over as many days as you like, but you are limited as to how many total vacations days you can have accrued on the books. After that point you’ll stop accruing vacation days which is another bad outcome.

Fortunately a majority of companies DO allow employees to roll over unused vacation days so you do not lose them come December 31st. Regardless of whether vacation rollover is possible or not, a complex set of rules will apply as to how many, for how long, and Since roll-over policy often come with limitations and strict enforcement, why bother?

Do Not Rollover Vacation Days
Do you need to rollover vacation days from December to January?

Before you think about rolling over vacation days at work, review this list of the top reasons NOT to. You may decide that taking every vacation day in one calendar year is the easiest and therefore the best policy.

1. Many Companies Have a Use It or Lose It Vacation Policy

Did you know that 32% of employers in this survey do not let employees roll over unused vacation leave? In other words, that’s about a third of companies forcing you to use your vacation days before the end of the year or risk losing them. For organizations that offer a PTO leave (combined vacation, sick, personal time) the number is even worse. Only 23% of those workers can roll over used vacation leave. What about those with “unlimited vacation” policies? Since you can take as many days off as you want (or maybe unlimited vacation policies are not a great idea), there is no rollover possible from one year to the next.

SHRM Paid Leave Report - Vacation Rollover Statistics

Are working for a company that has a strict use-it-or-lose-it policy when it comes to paid vacation days? The last thing you want is to lose a day off that you earned (time=money). While you can’t change the policy, the lesson here is to be fully aware of rollover rules and use them to your full advantage.

Want to learn more about how to avoid forfeiting vacation days, especially when your company sets up its employees to be vacation losers? Read this recent VacationCounts post to be a winner!

Top 10 Ways to Take Your Use It or Lose It Vacation Days

VacationCounts.com blog

2. Roll-Over Limit Policy is Enforced

Even if your company allows you to roll over vacation days into the new year, there are always defined limits. You are probably limited as to total the number of days and when you have to use them by. In this scenario you run the risk of trying to roll over too many vacation days or failing to use them before they expire. Consider avoiding rolling over your accrued time off in the first place if the limits are strict or concerning.

What is your vacation rollover HR policy at work? To learn more about roll-over policy and limits, refer to our article on this subject. Read the vacation day roll-over advice, take the quick survey, and view the results.

Vacation Rollover in the USA Policy Survey and Checklist (and results)

VacationCounts.com take more time off blog

3. Fight Off Vacation Deprivation

It is a well-known fact that Americans are vacation deprived. Numerous surveys have shown statistically what we all know. Workers in the U.S. not only have among the fewest number of vacation days per year, they also fail to take all of them. These are the primary causes of the much talked about “vacation deprivation.”

The annual Vacation Deprivation Survey by Expedia is a well-documented reminder of these facts. It’s incredibly sad reading about the total amount of lost vacation days left on the table each year by employees in the USA.

…workers in the U.S. took the fewest number of vacation days in the world in 2018

63 percent of Americans go six months or longer without a vacation

American workers received 14 vacations days and used 10, resulting in 653.9 million days left on the table in 2018


Stop telling yourself that you can always roll-over those last few days since you are “way too busy” to take time off right now. One practical tip from this report is the idea to take several short vacations instead of one or two big trips. Schedule a 3 or 4 day weekend throughout the year to fight vacation deprivation and take your earned vacation days every year. Help to turn the tide on this vacation deprivation plague before it is too late!

4. Avoid Falling into the Vacation Rollover Trap

OK, you’ve tentatively decided to rollover a leftover vacation day or two. Now what? You’ll need to follow HR procedure to make absolutely sure you do not lose the paid time off (PTO) that you worked so hard to earn. Do you need to fill out a paper form, get rollover approved by your manager in advance, enter it into the HR portal, or jump though other hoops to keep your vacation days?

The smart conclusion is to make it your own policy to never roll over your personal vacation. What happens if you roll over successfully but fail to take the days before they “expire” in the following year? It is unlikely that you’ll be reminded to take those rollover days.  Probably the best policy is to use it before you misinterpret the rules and lose some by mistake.

Luckily you can be proactive and start tracking your vacation days, personal days, holidays, and track all paid-time-off in the VacationCounts app. It’s free to use and helps you plan to use all of your vacations days for the year. Take control of managing your time off accrual, usage, and planning to create more vacation memories.

Paid Time Off and Vacation Tracking in VacationCounts app

5. Improve Work-Life-Vacation Balance

The final reason to never rollover vacation days is to maintain a healthy work-life balance. While you have little say as to how many vacation days are granted to you at work, you have (mostly) full control over their usage. Whatever amount of PTO you earn, spread those days throughout the same calendar year.

Make it your goal to balance out the time you spend between work, life, and on vacation. Review your vacation benefit every quarter and plan in advance how to maximize every one of your earned days off.

Work-Life-Vacation Balance

Those of you that have read the VacationCounts philosophy know that you do not have to travel just because it is called a vacation day.  Take the day off for rewarding family time, valuable personal enrichment, or even be a tourist in your home town.

Regardless, make it a habit to take back your vacation every calendar year.  By avoiding the rollover issue entirely, you’ll benefit from the ultimate work-life-vacation balance.