United States Still a No-Vacation Nation

Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, this report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research confirms — yet again — that the United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers any paid vacation time.

91892542, US flagWhat seems to be the problem here? Well, according to John Schmitt, senior economist and co-author of the CEPR report, No-Vacation Nation Revisited, “relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn’t worked.”

The report offers a stark reminder of what some of the other advanced economies are doing when it comes to paying for days off. Workers in the European Union, for instance, are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year, with 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries. Canada and Japan guarantee at least 10 days of paid vacation per year.

On the contrary — and in case you missed the lead — U.S. workers have no statutory right to paid vacations.

The gap between the United States and the rest of the world is even bigger when legal holidays, such as Memorial Day, are included. According to the CEPR release, U.S. law does not guarantee any paid holidays, but most rich countries provide between five and 13 per year, in addition to paid vacation days.

As for what folks are saying or doing about the issue, according to this report Thursday from USA Today, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., introduced a bill this week that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide paid annual leave.

“We need it for the health and well-being of our workers,” Grayson says in the story. “We also need it for businesses, because people who are forced to work every single day lose productivity.”

The story also quotes James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, who cautions that employers take the cost of required benefits out of workers’ pay.

Daniel Mitchell, a senior fellow at another Washington think tank, the Cato Institute, further cautions in the story that, “When you make it more expensive to hire workers, fewer workers get hired.”

All that said, I would imagine the majority of U.S. workers would say something’s gotta give in this land of the free and home of the brave and overworked.

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