Of All Developed Countries, Americans Get The Least Amount Of Paid Vacation Days, But Are We Working Less?

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May 28, 2013 ‐ By Kimberly Gedeon

As summer creeps into the door, many of us are daydreaming about lavish vacations in the Caribbean or in Bora Bora. Unfortunately, you may need to settle for a short day at the spa. The United States is the only developed nation that does not mandate that employers offer paid vacation time.

A report from the Center of Economic and Policy Research discovered that out of 21 developed nations, each and every one of them had regulations regarding employers offering 10 to 30 paid vacation days annually, except the U.S. France was at the top of the list in offering the most paid vacation days at 30  annually.

One of the researchers, John Schmitt, argues that even when employers do offer paid days off, many workers do not request it. Employees do not approach their bosses about taking a few days off because they believe it might risk their job security.

Still, another report may question the need for more vacation days; research shows that Americans are actually working less. Because of new technology and machinery, the number of hours worked in the United States has reduced radically since the 1950s.

The report argues that we only “feel” overworked because of the progression of technology. Yes, technology reduces work hours but it also extends work hours into the home. Mobile technology, such as a smartphone, is monitored by professionals religiously to keep an eye on their work at home or when they’re on-the-go.

Even with the fragile economy, data analysis on paid vacation days in America have not changed over the past six years.

Schmitt insists that the reason behind this is because employers would rather reduce other job benefits like health care, which are more expensive, than vacation days. If paid time-off becomes an issue, employers can simply lay off offenders.

The CEPR report found that that 77 percent of U.S. workers who do get paid vacation days get an average of 13 of them per year.

Full-time workers and large-company employees have an advantage; they are more likely to reap the benefits of paid vacation days than part-time and low-wage workers.

So what’s your take on this? Are we working more or does it just seem like it? Or is it an issue of work-life balance being out of whack?

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  • Kenedy

    Europeans value their vacation time…Americans just want to get paid

  • adiatc

    True! I work for a British company here in the US. We start off with 15 paid days off a year up to 40, depending on tenure. There is big difference in how Europe views work/life balance vs. the US. I never got those type of benefits working for an American company.

  • SheBe

    We also have the what appears to be the worst maternity leave of developed countries too.