As a professor, “vacation” is tricky since much of my time “off” is actually time “on” and I like what I do so much my time “on” is also “off”! Still, Kris as a psychologist is paid for work done and she can take vacation as she wants (knowing she won’t be paid). A professor’s “vacation” time coincides with the ordinary schedule of the USA: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring Break, etc…
But this is an issue of mandatory and paid vacation time, and the European (and world) models are at variance with the USA’s model.
What do you think? Is the American approach — no mandatory paid holidays — something to be avoided or applauded? Is this so “systemic” that the systems adjusts to it?
How much time do you get for vacation? Does it make you more “productive” or less in your work?
What do you do on your vacations? Travel? Sail? Go to a big city (and sail)? Cabin? Up North? Beach? Family?
The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.
Austria, which guarantees workers the most time off, has a legal minimum of 22 paid vacation days and 13 paid holidays each year. The average private sector U.S. worker receives 16 paid vacation days and holidays. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Based on a report released by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), 24/7 Wall St. identified the countries where workers get at least 30 days off a year.
Several nations providing workers with a great deal of time off can afford to be generous. Germany, where the economy remains strong, had an unemployment rate of just 5.5% in 2012. Similarly, New Zealand’s unemployment rate was just 6.9% last year. Both are well below the 8.0% Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) unemployment rate, as well as the 8.1% rate in the United States.
Still, some nations giving workers a generous combination of paid, legally-protected vacation days and holidays currently are struggling economically. France, Italy, Portugal and Spain each had an unemployment rate in excess of 10% last year. Spain’s unemployment rate of 25.1% was the worst among the 34 OECD member nations. The gross domestic product (GDP) of three of these four nations shrank in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In France, GDP rose by just 0.03%.
Because time-off is time not spent productively working, it would seem to be an expense that countries with struggling economies cannot afford. To make matters worse, “workers who have vacation and paid holidays also tend to have much higher levels of other benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans,” said John Schmitt, senior economist at Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Of the eight nations requiring workers receive 30 days off a year, only New Zealand’s government spent proportionally less than the U.S.’s 40.3% of GDP, while four nations spent more than 50% of GDP.
But experts consulted by 24/7 Wall St. expressed doubt that the overall effect of extra time off on the economy is negative. Schmitt told 24/7 Wall St. “paid vacation and holidays don’t appear to have any meaningful impact on macroeconomic outcomes.” …
Because the United States is the second-most productive developed country as measured by GDP per capita and has no mandatory vacation time, some might argue that vacation reduces productivity. However, in another measure of labor productivity — GDP per hour worked — the U.S. was only marginally better than Germany and France, both developed countries that guarantee among the most vacation time. Of course, it is worth noting that the average U.S. employee also clocks 20% more hours per worker than those in Germany or France.