Americans are workaholics ⏤ they leave more vacation days on the table than workers in almost every other developed country. But Americans are also workaholics for another reason: in many cases, working is the only option. According to new data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), an economy think-tank based in Washington, DC, Americans get way less paid time off than everybody else. Not only that, but American workers are still not guaranteed paid vacation time, leaving a quarter of the workforce without any leave whatsoever.
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According to this chart by Statista journalist Niall McCarthy, the disparity between the United States and the rest of the world is stark. We are glaringly behind the pack when it comes to paid time off. Using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the chart shows that while the UK, France and Spain enjoy over 30 days of vacation time including public holidays, the US has a paltry 10 public holiday days off. And, again, no guaranteed pay.
Without a federal policy to push the point, companies are under no obligation to implement paid leave, which means they can give as much or as little as they want.
“Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn’t worked. It’s a national embarrassment that 28 million Americans don’t get any paid vacation or paid holidays,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
And even if workers get time off, study after study reveals they’re often uncomfortable or scared to take it ⏤ afraid that taking vacation might reflect poorly or jeopardize their jobs. This despite research that’s shown taking vacation improves productivity rather than hampers it. A message that Americans may now be ready to receive.
Last year, Americans took an average of just over 17 vacation days, the most in seven years. This vacation time not only improves workers’ productivity but also makes it more likely that they’ll get promoted. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to relax.