The latest workplace trend, “quiet vacationing,” which is reminiscent of “hush trips,” is the practice of taking vacation time without informing your employer.

In May, surveyed 1,050 corporate workers who have paid time off (PTO) benefits to find out how many have recently done or plan to engage in quiet vacationing.

Key findings:

  • 2 in 5 workers worry about the impact of taking PTO on job security
  • 1 in 10 workers participated in quiet vacationing in the past year
  • Anxiety is the top reason for workers not utilizing PTO for vacation days
  • 1 in 8 intend to engage in quiet vacationing this summer
  • 1 in 4 workers at companies that don’t participate in “Summer Fridays” plan to engage in the practice anyway

2 in 5 Workers Worry Taking PTO Will Impact Job Security

The majority of workers say they definitely (68%) or probably (24%) believe their direct manager supports the use of PTO. However, the majority of workers don’t use all of their PTO.

Approximately 36% of respondents always use their allotted PTO each year, and 34% often utilize it, while 22% only sometimes do, 6% rarely use it, and 2% never do.

Many have concerns about how taking PTO may impact their job security; 11% worry a lot, and 26% worry a little.

“In my experience, several factors lead to workers’ hesitancy to take PTO,” says Head of Customer Success at Businessmap Karolina Dacheva. “One of the prevalent reasons is the notion of ‘vacation guilt,’ or the fear of leaving colleagues shouldering their responsibilities or the worry of missed opportunities in their absence.

“Adding to this, there’s also the concern about job security. Workers often fear that utilizing their PTO might project them as less committed to their roles.”

Michael Dinich, founder of Wealth of Geeks, echoes this sentiment stating, “Many workers are afraid to take time off from their jobs. They worry it will look like they aren’t as committed to their work. Or it might make their bosses think they aren’t needed anymore. This worry is stronger in places where the competition between employees is tough. People feel pressure to always prove how valuable they are.”

1 in 10 Workers Engaged in Quiet Vacationing in the Past Year

In the past year, 11% of employees say they took a vacation day without their employer’s permission.

Of workers who took an authorized vacation day, 18% of employees took one secret vacation day, 43% took two to three, 24% took four to five, and 15% took six or more secret vacation days.

Anxiety tops reasons for workers not using PTO for a vacation day

The reasons employees took vacation days without their employer’s permission are that 33% were too anxious to ask for time off, 31% didn’t want to use paid time off, and 30% believed taking a vacation day would make them look less hardworking. Additionally, 29% thought they’d be more likely to be laid off if they took vacation days, 26% had their request not approved, and 23% didn’t have any paid time off left to use.

“There are too many employees who fear that utilizing their entitled time off might signal to management a lack of dedication, undermine their reputation for hard work, or even make them vulnerable to layoffs,” says Resume Builder’s Chief Career Advisor Stacie Haller. “When companies extend PTO benefits without addressing these underlying anxieties, it not only fails to motivate but can also erode retention of their most valued employees.

“Managers should actively promote a culture where employees feel encouraged to take their deserved time off without fear of repercussions, whether real or perceived. A company’s culture is shaped by how its employees perceive and experience such policies.”

1 in 5 quiet vacationers used a virtual background of their office space to fool employer

During a vacation taken without their employer’s permission, 61% of respondents gave the impression that they were still working their normal hours, while 39% didn’t do this.

To maintain the facade of working a full day during their unauthorized vacation, respondents predominantly engaged in tasks such as answering emails (73%), responding to instant messages (56%), taking phone calls (60%), and attending virtual meetings (49%). Additionally workers say they were meeting project deadlines (49%), seeking assistance from coworkers (45%), and circumventing employee monitoring software (37%).

Of those who say they attended virtual meetings while on their secret vacation, 66% say they used a virtual background of their typical office space to hide the fact they were in a different location.

On days when their employers presumed they were working full days rather than on vacation, respondents reported spending varying amounts of time on work, with 18% working less than one hour, 35% working one to two hours, 31% working three to four hours, and 16% working more than four hours.

Nearly half (46%) say their employer found out they were on vacation.

1 in 8 Intend on Quiet Vacationing This Summer

This summer, 13% of respondents indicated their intention to take vacation days without their employer’s permission, with 5% stating they would definitely do so and 8% saying they probably would.

In terms of the number of secret vacation days anticipated for the summer, respondents showed a range of expectations. The majority (44%) expect to take two to three secret vacation days, followed by 24% likely to take four to five days. A smaller proportion anticipated taking one day (15%), six to seven days (10%), or eight or more days (7%).

1 in 3 are reluctant to use their PTO

Respondents’ likelihood of taking a secret vacation without employer permission this summer was influenced by various factors. The most common reasons cited were concerns about the rejection of their vacation request (35%), reluctance to use PTO (35%), and not having any PTO available (30%).

Additionally, a significant portion expressed worries that taking a vacation day might diminish their perceived work ethic (38%), while others attributed their inclination towards secret vacationing to feelings of anxiety about requesting time off (33%) or apprehensions about potential job insecurity (33%).

The majority (74%) say they will give the impression they are still working the full day.

1 in 4 Workers Without Summer Fridays Will Take Them Anyway

While about a third (31%) of respondents indicated that their company offers Summer Fridays, allowing employees to either leave early or take the entire day off, the majority (69%) reported that this policy is not available at their workplace.

Among those whose companies do not offer Summer Fridays, a notable proportion (23%) say they will leave work early on Fridays during the summer without formally requesting time off.

“It’s quite surprising that more companies haven’t embraced the concept of Summer Fridays, considering its widespread acceptance in our cultural landscape and the flexibility it offers. Instituting Summer Fridays can be a simple yet impactful way to provide employees with a valuable perk, especially if a company’s overall PTO package isn’t as generous as competitors’,” says Haller.


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish in May 2024. In total, 1,050 respondents completed the full survey.

To qualify for the survey, all participants had to answer that they work in a corporate environment (i.e., an office job in contrast with a field job) and receive PTO benefits.

Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.