Cadence just announced that next year everyone has to do 4 mandatory shutdown periods again, just like in previous years. The reason they give is to control cost. The result for employees is that they basically never have vacation time, because they are forced to take it all during the pre-assigned shutdowns.
Do other companies have similar policies? It seems pretty unusual to me that well into the recovery a company would still be so desperate to control cost by restricting basic benefits like earned vacation.
I was a Cadence employee for over 11 years before being caught in one of the layoff waves back in '09. Obviously, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows (and there are some times when I think "why me?" about the layoff because I worked my tail off there), but overall, I look back on my time as CDNS as positive because I had some fantastic opportunities and worked with a great team of people.
When Cadence first started doing the shutdowns, I wasn't too thrilled about them. However, I had a tendency to work through the year without taking more than a week off, so I had a large vacation balance rolling over all the time. In fact, I was often at the limit, and lost vacation hours because it had stopped accruing. Therefore, the shutdowns actually forced me to step away and enjoy some time with my family. Also, since the whole company was shut down, nobody expected me to keep working or answer phone calls, so I knew I wasn't really missing anything.
In contrast, at my new company, they give you 4 weeks of vacation at the beginning of each year and it's a "use it or lose it" policy. Furthermore, they load everyone down with so much work that if you miss a few days, you're seriously behind. I've only taken one week off so far, and I ended up working about 20 hours during that time in order to make sure things didn't fall apart while I was "gone" on vacation. There is no relief around the holidays as everyone keeps pushing all the time. This really makes me miss the concept of the shutdown, when our whole team at Cadence was requested to stay away!
So count your blessings, relax, and enjoy the time off... ;o)
If everyone actually took the vacation they have earned, the Cadence wouldn't have to force shutdowns. The problem is caused when lots of people don't take their vacations and let them accrue, while you might think that this helps the company because you are doing more work, it screws up the books because vacation money has been put aside in a separate account to cover your time off. This money just sits there waiting for folks to take their vacations, while the money for day-day operations is burned up more rapidly. To me it's simple, take your vacation time, you've earned it.
This seems to be unique to Cadence. There are many reasons. Cadence probably hasn't recovered enough. A couple of years ago it reported ~$1.6B in annual revenue, now it's ~$900M. The cost savings improve EPS which means bigger bonuses -- especially for the top management layers. VPs & up get "unlimited" vacation, so they're not really impacted. Oh yeah, it's still a buyer's market and Cadence (and EDA overall) tends to pay significantly more than most -- and everyone knows it. One other potential benefit is that burning all that vacation time helps if additional layoffs of long-term employees are needed -- that vacation balance won't have to be paid with severance. I suggest that you do your best to align your personal vacations to coincide with the shutdowns and count your blessings.