Hey, America: Take a vacation!

One of my international clients recently asked me to draft an employment agreement for one of his US companies. “How much paid vacation time am I required to give my employees?” he asked. Surprisingly, the answer is none. The US may be the only advanced nation with no law requiring a certain amount of paid vacation, or any vacation at all, in fact. Countries with the highest number of days off include Austria and Portugal (both with 35), Germany (34), and, of course, France (31). USA Today.

But just because one is allowed all those days at the beach, does this mean that one has to take them? Not at all. In the US, where the typical private sector employee gets 16 paid vacation days and holidays (although it must be said that fully a quarter of Americans get no paid holiday at all), only 57% of workers take their full allotment.  In France, on the other hand, fully 89% of workers use every single day that they are allotted!

Not that less vacation necessarily means better productivity.  Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “former NASA scientists, working on behalf of Air New Zealand and using testing tools normally reserved for astronauts, recently found that vacationers experienced an 82% increase in job performance post-trip.”

As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says, “Hey America: Take a Vacation!”

Global Public Square

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

These are the dog days of summer, and in this hot, sweltering weather most Americans are busy working. (I know, I know, not you folks in the Hamptons.) Meanwhile, most Europeans are busy vacationing. Thus it has ever been — only it’s getting worse.

Nowadays the average European gets about three times as many days of paid vacation as his counterpart in America.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

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