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The U.S. is the Only “No-Vacation Nation”

July 26th, 2019 Emma O'Connor

VacationIn this 80 to 90-degree weather, many Americans are anticipating their annual Summer vacation. Unfortunately, about one in four Americans won’t get paid for their vacation time. A study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research says that the U.S. is the only nation of the 21 richest countries in the world that does not mandate paid vacation and holidays.  Unlike every other advanced economy, U.S. federal law does not require employers to give paid vacation days to their employees.  Further, there is no federal law requiring employers to pay their employees for national holidays off.  Workers that don’t get time off are less efficient, more irritable, and more likely to burnout, so the US’ lack of paid time off is shocking.

Americans are Afraid of Vacationing

The average number of vacation days in the United States is 17.2, but who gets them? While 75% of employers choose to offer paid time off to their employees, high-income full-time workers are disproportionately the only recipients of this generosity.  90% of full-time private-sector workers receive paid vacation and holidays, but only about 40% of part-timers receive the same. About 90% of the top 25% income earners receive paid vacations and holidays, while only about 50% of the bottom 25% do.

Surprisingly, more than half of Americans who get paid vacation days don’t even take all of their time off.  These employees might juggle multiple jobs and can’t get paid days off for each position.  Some can’t afford to go on vacation anyways.  Others have to take care of their children or are afraid to go on vacation.  Only 41% of individuals that work at businesses with paid-vacation policies say their organizations actually encourage them to take advantage of their time off.  In an economy with precarious job security, many workers think it isn’t worth the risk of missing important deadlines, sabotaging projects, or upsetting supervisors to take days off.  Perhaps this is why even when Americans decide to go on vacation, more than half “feel tense” while they’re away or end up working anyways.

Paid Vacations Across the World

VacationIn stark contrast, the European Union (EU) promises workers four weeks or 20 paid days of vacation per year.  Spain is the most generous country, providing at least 30 days of paid time off for each employee.  Similarly, New Zealanders receive four weeks of paid annual leave after a year of employment. Workers in the UK receive at least 5.6 weeks or 28 days of time off.  Individuals in Austria, Denmark, Sweden, France, South Africa, and Canada are all entitled to similar amounts of vacation time.

Seek Legal Assistance

If your employer is retaliating against you for taking contractually-promised days off, the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646)430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.