U.S. workers still lag Europe in vacation stakes

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by cslewis, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. cslewis macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #1
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans returning to work from summer vacation ought to feel refreshed, but probably not as refreshed as colleagues in Europe, where minimum paid leave beats that for U.S. workers with even 25 years of service.

    A report from the Economic Policy Institute on Wednesday noted that Americans with a quarter century of employment receive just 19.2 days of annual paid leave on average versus 20 days or more in most European countries.

    "Vacation is an important part of work -- a time to get away from the demands of a job, to enjoy family, and to rejuvenate. President Bush's extended vacation at his ranch in Texas reflects this need," said EPI.

    Bush has been enjoying a five week break on his ranch in Crawford -- a stay away from the office that is positively French in length, where legal minimum annual leave is 25 days.

    There is no legal minimum paid leave in the United States, although many firms grant some vacation time. EPI, citing data from the U.S. National Compensation Survey, found the average number of paid vacation days to be 8.9 after one year or work, 11 after three years and 16.2 after 10 years.

    Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Sweden all match France in the generosity of legal minimums of paid leave, although employees can rack up much more time off through length of service and compensation for overtime. This adds up to weeks in countries like France, which has a strict 35 hour work-week.

    In fact, length of vacation and hours worked go a long way to explain the wealth gap between the U.S. and Europe.

    Having the time off is one thing but being able to afford to take it is another thing entirely, and in this department Americans score well. U.S. citizens are a third wealthier per capita than their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic, but they earn this the hard way.

    U.S. employees worked an annual average of 1,792 hours in 2003, according to the latest employment outlook from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This compares with 1,453 hours in France, 1,446 hours in Germany and 1,673 hours in the United Kingdom.

    But the gap may be shrinking. Recently joined members of the European Union from the former Communist east are turning out to have a thoroughly 'American' work ethic. Poles clocked up an average 1,956 hours in 2003 while Czech workers put in an average 1,972 hours a year, OECD data showed.




    Wow, what a bummer for us in the US! This article begs the question.... how many days per year do macrumors memebers take off each year?
     
  2. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #2
    I took a leave of absence for 2 months this summer to do some resume-building archeology fieldwork (hardly a vacation). Other than that I haven't been away from the lab for more than 7 days in a row the last four years. :(

    Not to mention the fact that I worked through college...

    IMHO Americans are very goal oriented, hard workers but unwilling to "stop and smell the roses", which lowers our quality of life somewhat despite the wealth. I know people that pull in mid 6-figure salaries but commute over an hour in traffic daily, work 50+ hour weeks and generally run themselves ragged. Their retirement package will be good - if they live that long... :rolleyes:
     
  3. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    #3
    I'm self-employed; can't take a whole lot of days off or my clients will get upset. I try to take a week off at least twice a year, and a few odd days wherever I can get them, but taking a two week vacation is way out of the question.

    America has that deep-rooted Calvinist work ethic, and people define themselves much more by their careers here than they do in other parts of the world. I also think the ever-increasing cost of living (housing, gas) and worries about having enough money for retirement or medical emergencies are a big motivator to keep that nose to the wheel.
     
  4. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #4
    Although Europeans may be entitled to more holiday (and the trade unions in the UK complain that the UK get less than the rest of the EU), it would be interesting to see what proportion of the holidays actually get taken. I know several people who have trouble trying to get sufficient time off to take their holidays and end up carrying them over or fighting to get paid for them.

    I've been with my current company for 10 years next week :eek: and I get 28 days holiday per year plus any national holidays. I make a point of trying to take them all since we have a policy that we can't carry over more than a week, nor can we be paid for them. I tend to take 2 individual weeks off (one usually around Christmas/New Year), a 2 week big vacation and use the rest to have long weekends spread throughout the year.
     
  5. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

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    #5
    Absolutely. I get 21 days per year, but I've never actually taken all of those. I think the closest I ever got was about two weeks.
     
  6. florencevassy macrumors regular

    florencevassy

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    #6
    I get 4 weeks a year + 2 personal days

    I gradually earned it after being with the same company for several years. If I changed jobs then I would probably have to go back to 2-3 weeks.

    We are strongly encouraged to take all of our vacation and have a mandatory consecutive two week rule (you must be away for your job for two consecutive weeks at some point during the year).

    I think this is unusual for a company in the US.

    By the way I work for a European company. This could be part of the reason why they are pretty generous.
     
  7. mcadam macrumors 6502a

    mcadam

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    #7
    I'd say that rather the calvinist work ethic it's lack of real strong labour unions that's the reason for the short u.s. holidays.

    One thing is ambitious people earning good money in good jobs. People in poorly paid jobs - factories, mcdonalds, wal-mart and so on - is a different story.

    Last time we had a general strike in Denmark, in '99 IIRC, was to ensure a fifth week of paid holiday. Which they got. Oh, it's hard to be a worker here. In fact this is not regulated by government law, but through biannual negotiantions between labour unions and employers union.

    I'm still studying = to month of nice government paid summer vacation for me :D

    A
     
  8. gekko513 macrumors 603

    gekko513

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    #8
    25 days per year. Norway also has a maximum of 12 paid days of sick leave without a doctors notice. Is that the same as personal days?
     
  9. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #9
    Usually, when I ended my jobs, I got my vacation pay since I never had time to take most of it. At one job, it was 45 days until my first day off. Software development in small shops can be a pain.
     
  10. anterior macrumors newbie

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    #10
    ugh.. I hate to say this.... but I get 50 days of vacation time a year.. that's 10 weeks a year. I think I max out at 12 after a couple more years. I live in the states by the way. Obviously, it's sooooo much nicer that the 2 weeks a year I use to get at my old job (which is more of the norm here in the US). If I don't use the time off... it gets rolled over to next year or the company can opt to pay me out. PLUS... the company gives us a paid 2 month "sabbatical" every 5 years on top of the paid vacation time. Very sweet deal... but I do work my *ss off when crunch time hits. I think the people here are much more productive having that amount of time off available to them. You get to come back really refreshed and ready to get to work.

    Americans do not know what they are missing w/ only getting 2-3-4 weeks of vacation time a year. We all need to stop and smell the roses and I am VERY thankfull that the company I work for allows me to do so...
     
  11. tobefirst macrumors 68040

    tobefirst

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    #11
    I think I get 25 days of ETO (extended time off, i guess), which includes holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day), sick days, and vacation days.

    So, I guess after you subtract the holidays and give yourself a couple of sick days, that's like, what, 3 weeks? The coolest part is that I've only been at my job a year, and the ETO starts from day one. I don't have to be here a year or something like that to use it.
     
  12. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #12
    I get 27 days leave a year plus national holidays (8? days?). I endeavour to use all of them. :D
     
  13. florencevassy macrumors regular

    florencevassy

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    #13
    In the US personal days are extra days to tend to family matters, go to the doctor, take your kid to college or things like that.

    They are supposed to be taken separately from vacation.

    We have about 10 sick days a year but the unwritten rule is to not use them unless you absolutely have to.
     
  14. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #14
    for me, it's currently 35 paid vacation days plus national holidays, totalling about 45 days. i never skip vacation days, not ever, and my boss is happy with it. i guess i'm lucky ;)
     
  15. eva01 macrumors 601

    eva01

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    #15
    christ i am in college, i take summer course, i am going to design school. I volunteer at the hospital, i work at the hoospital, and i have been sick for 11 months :/ Oh yes i do freelance webdesign on occasion too

    Oh yea i volunteer after i punch out of my 8hr workday so i am normally in the hospital 10 hours a day or more. Vacation pfft. My vacation was going to a concert last night. Other than that i am doing something all the time, but i wouldn't take a vacation if i could, i don't like doing nothing.
     
  16. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #16
    When I started with my current employer, I was very lucky - I started in Management, and in addition to my 3 weeks standard vacation per year, I was given 14 days off to use whenever - so, that's 29 days fully paid/year, right off the bat - I have even more now. And to think I'd have to work somewhere for 25 years to get that vacation time elsewhere?! - No thanks!

    I value my time off, I don't know how some people can be fine with so little vacation. I work to live, not live to work. There are more important things in life than work, and life is too short to worry about work. Yet many people simply dedicate their lives towards work, don't experience the true joys of life, and then have regrets afterwards. Is all the stress, etc. really worth it in the end? I don't think anyone has ever reached to the end of their life and said, "You know, I wish I would have worked more". There is just so much more to life, that's why I take all the vacation I can.

    Plus, I love backpacking around the world. Seeing different countries, experiencing different cultures, exposing oneself to history, etc., is a real eye-opener and really gives me a great perspective on the world and life in general. The experiences I have gained from traveling cannot be matched in any way, shape or form, and it's such a huge, diverse, exciting world out there that I don't know why people wouldn't want to explore and experience it. For me, 1 week off at some commercialized, touristy resort is not a vacation whatsoever.

    But, that comes down to what people put value in and want to spend their money on. Personally, I gain much more out of spending $5000 on a couple months of backpacking and experiencing the world than buying a nice HDTV and sitting on my butt with a bag of chips. But too each his own, right? Regardless, life is too short to work yourself to the bone. It's good to have motivation, drive and want to succeed - I'm definitely one of those people - but I truly believe that balance is the key, and there is so much more to life than work. :cool:
     
  17. gekko513 macrumors 603

    gekko513

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    #17
    Thanks for the answer. The 12 sick days in Norway are not to be used unless you have to, either.
     
  18. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #18
    Same here - we get 13 sick days (only to be used when I'm sick!) in addition to our other 29 days off.
     
  19. garybUK Guest

    garybUK

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    #19
    I get 185hours 34mins holiday which @ 1FTE (Full Time Equivalent = 37hours per week) is 5 weeks holiday (25 days)


    I also have Toil which is time in leu, If I work longer one night the company owes it me ... but because I'm on flexi really we don't bother, as long as the timesheet at the end of the month balances out ;)

    The holidays above don't include bank holidays either ....... ahhh monday morning off!!!! :D
     
  20. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #20
    Ah yes, I forgot to mention that as well - we get our 11 or 13 (or whatever it is) Stat Holidays for Xmas, New Year's, Canada Day, Easter ,etc. as well. It's nice having almost one long-weekend per month!
     
  21. Zachariah macrumors member

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    #21
    First (on topic), I really think that vacation is a family value!

    I think that there should be a lower hour work-week and more vacation. I think it would improve all kinds of social issues in the US.

    As an example, parents would have more time to know what their kids were doing with their time, and would be more available for their kids' needs. This could have a huge impact IMO. Another example is that people would have more time to really find out about their elected officials and candidates and make better choices when voting. Sure, not everyone would use the extra time this way, but I think enough people would to make a positive difference.

    I, myself, have had jobs with all kinds of vacation amounts, but am now back in school and get the whole summer off (or I can take summer school) ... and I get at least a month in Winter.



    Second (off topic), I just want to make sure you know the original (correct?) usage of the phrase “begs the question”.

    As long as you know it and are deciding to use the new use (misuse?) of the phrase, then I do not object — but if you are misusing the phrase in ignorance, then please accept kindly read this info and inform yourself:


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-beg1.htm
    http://www.google.com/search?q=begs the question
     
  22. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

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    #22
    I've been with my company for almost 4 years now, and I get 10 days vacation, 5 sick days, and we get 8-10 holidays off a year (depending on when they fall).

    Last year, they switched to an accrual process. Now we have to EARN our vacation and sick days for the entire year. Employees accrue 6.67 vacation hours per month. Once July 1st has been reached, you get a second week of vacation. If you want to take a vacation between January and July, you must request it in writing and agree that if you are terminated or choose to leave the company, you must repay any unearned vacation time.
     
  23. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

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    #23
    we too have to earn our vacation, but there's a national law about it and it's great. you earn 2.5 vacation days for every full working month (14 work days or more). totalling 30 days per year (minimum required by law). vacation calculations begin at april first, and during each vacation season (april first through march last) you get to use the vacation days earnt during previous vacation season(s) and if you leave the job, it is the responsibility of the employer to pay off all earnt vacation that you haven't yet used. that's the law and nothing can ever stop one from using the hard-earnt vacation days.
     
  24. zelmo macrumors 603

    zelmo

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    #24
    Been working at this (U.S.) company for 20 years. I get 15 days vacation, 5 days sick/personal, and 9 paid holiday days. My work hours are from 7a to 5p, sometimes later, plus we work about 20 days on the weekend per year, during busy season.
    Fortunate to earn just enough that my wife can stay home and care for the kids.
     
  25. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #25
    Yikes, I feel for ya powermac666 - that's rough. :( I'm glad you're at least making enough for the wife to stay home with the kids - I think that's very beneficial for the kids to be spending their days with their real Mom, not some babysitter or nanny.
     

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