According to 2011 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 90% of private employers in the U.S. offer paid vacation to full-time employees, and 75% offer paid sick leave. Although many employees have come to expect paid vacation and sick leave as a job benefit, you may be surprised to learn that very few employers are required to offer paid time off. No law requires paid vacation, and only a few localities require employers to offer paid sick days.
Unpaid leave is another story, however. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires covered employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for a new child, recover from a serious health condition, care for a seriously ill family member, or handle certain matters arising out of a family's member's call to active military duty. (Employees can take up to 26 weeks of leave, if they need to care for a family member who is seriously injured on active military duty.) A number of state laws also require employers to give time off, for things like jury duty, pregnancy disability, and practical issues arising from domestic violence (such as the need to take time off to get a restraining order or relocate to a safe place).
This section provides information and resources on leave and time off from work.