Time-Off vs Cash Bonus

At my first government job, the manager offered two opportunities for bonuses – either time off or cash.

I always chose time off. But there was a clear line where the older people were the more likely they would take the cash.

I can see their point now and I would probably take the cash.

But I wish I didn’t. Life is too short and I’d like to take time-off to enjoy it.

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Helen Roos

Interesting perspective. I’m taking my Canadian HR professional designation right now, and interestingly enough, knee-deep in the Compensation class. Half our class work in the Canadian Federal public service; others in NGOs or private sector. Those in private and NGOs when polled preferred the cash; we in PS opted for time off. Why lose 50% (in Canada) to taxes? I’d rather have the time…. I agree though – our compensation choices are usually demographic and socio-cultural.

Henry Brown

Over the years I have seen the trend toward “time off”. The award amounts(both cash and time) have stayed ABOUT the same but the time off has increased significantly in value. Some 30 years ago a 100.00 reward was a significant chunk of change and probably came fairly close to be the same amount as a day off but today a “typical” GS-12 probably makes pretty close to 35 to 40 dollars per hour so the 100.00 bonus/reward is just a little over 2 to 3 hours if directly converted to time off. FORTUNATELY most organizations that I have been associated with do NOT tie them directly together but…


I would prefer the time off, as Steve pointed out, it might be age related. If there are more bills to pay, then take the cash. My preference also depends how many days; las year some people in my job got a week off. I got 2 days off. I noticed that after taxes, the amount that one gets to see of the cash award goes down significantly.


Good point Sarah…Part of it is related to how many days off you already get. In the US feds, with over 15 years you get 26 days off…which is kind of a lot especially if you have management responsibilities it can be hard to take that many days off

John Sporing

I have to say I usually take the cash now. I have been in gov for over 15 yrs so, I do get a lot of days off, plus we have AWS which gives me more time off. While the cash award may not be much, it is usually enough for a bottle of wine 😉 !

Lisa Coates

I agree with you Steve. Although we don’t have the option to take time off versus cash, I would rather take the time off. Time seems more precious when we get older.

Patricia Davis-Muffett

Maybe the older people took the cash because they realized that even if you’re officially “off,” you’re not really…so you might as well get the money!