Eric Brown: Go out and appreciate the value of the vacation

I got married 28 years ago. Shortly after my wife and I got married, I told her that no matter what happened to us in any given year, we would always take a summer vacation away from home.

We had a few lean years early in our marriage, and a few more when I lost my job seven summers ago. But I kept that promise. And every year since 1994 we have traveled to relax, unwind and marvel at the different places, people and beauty of this world.

In a few weeks, we’re heading to Maine for a quick getaway. It’s become an annual event for us even so soon after we got married I swore never to vacation in Maine because the water is too cold. This was a mistake that I am grateful to have corrected over the past few years. Now I can’t imagine not going there every August.

It used to be when we first had kids we’d pack our van with PB&J sandwiches, a TV/VCR plugged into the cigarette lighter and a stack of Barney and Wiggles movies and drive to the beaches of the Delaware. No cold ocean water there.

The kids still talk about those trips to the beach, which were filled with fond memories for all of us.

For the past two summers, very few of us have had the courage or strength to travel amidst the worst of the COVID pandemic. But now we’ve grown to live with the pandemic that isn’t expected to end, and it’s time to get back to the beaches, parks, cities and mountains and take a vacation.

The next eight weeks are, in my opinion, the most precious of the year, and it is important to take advantage of them.

When I started working, I never understood the value of rest. I thought it was important to always work – to show up, put in the time and get things done. Rest was for the unambitious.

But I changed my mind on that. Rest is essential to performance. Time is needed to give yourself time to reflect, improve, and reinvent.

I represent many unions and every contract we negotiate contains generous leave provisions. I know why employees seek time off, but it’s also important for the employer that employees take their time to relax, reconnect, and recharge. Innovation, energy and reflection are the positive effects of vacations for workers.

I don’t know of any employer who gives an employee a benefit out of the goodness of their hearts. That’s not to say that employers don’t have good hearts – most do. But in a negotiation, an employer voluntarily gives a benefit because the employer gets something in return.

So if you have a vacation from the books, you have to take it. And employers are short-sighted if they don’t give their employees the opportunity to get out and explore the world and gain new experiences.

I have never been a proponent of postponing or paying for vacation. Vacations are so valuable that employees should be encouraged to take the time. You have eight weeks until this summer, so go see the world.

Eric Brown, who writes a weekly column, is an attorney with offices in Connecticut. He can be reached at 888-579-4222 or online at thelaborlawyer.com.

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