Being home for the holidays a nice perk

On the Job

If you were like me, you waited a little too long to ask for time off ondays surrounding the holidays.

Most workers like myself want the extra time off to travel, celebrateand spend time with family and friends.

Next year, though, more workers may not have to scramble for the timeoff. A growing number of employers plan to provide extra holiday days offin 2007, according to a new survey by the Society for Human ResourceManagement. In many cases, the calendar is helping to provide the extratime.

Seventy-two percent of companies plan to close the day afterThanksgiving next year, according to the survey of 502 human resourcesprofessionals. A separate survey in February found that 63 percent of 469employers planned to be closed this year.

For the day before Christmas 2007, 48 percent of employers plan toclose their offices -- Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year. The dayafter Christmas will be a holiday for 16 percent of companies in 2007,while 8 percent plan to be closed this year.

Some workers could celebrate the new year in style, with 27 percent ofemployers planning to close on New Year's Eve next year -- it also falls on a Sundaythis year.

It should be noted that Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve fall on aMonday next year, meaning employers might find it logistically easier toclose that day. Most are likely to be closed the following day to celebratethe actual holiday.

John A. Challenger, a workplace expert and chief executive ofChallenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement company in Chicago,says providing extra days off during the holidays creates a perk forworkers. An informal survey by the outplacement firm found that 70 percentof 100 human resources executives said their companies would close on theday after Thanksgiving.

"Companies are looking for ways to invest in their people andculture, and create soft benefits that employees appreciate and make themwant to stay," Challenger says. "It's a way of creating good will."

Challenger says workers are looking for more three- to four-dayweekends, especially since it has gotten harder to take long vacations in a24-7 economy. And in some cases, business is slow during the period betweenChristmas and New Year's.

Some workers are getting time off around the holidays, but it's notfree.

U.S. workers of Yahoo Inc. will have the week between Christmas andNew Year's off this year. The company announced in September that it wouldclose its offices during that period as a cost-cutting move. Some 10,500workers will have to use their vacation time if they want to be paid forthe time off.

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