In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, I thought we’d take a look at a sad problem here in the U.S. Everyone knows that Americans have some of the shortest vacation days available in the world. A quick look at this list showing the number of vacation days workers get around the world depressingly shows the U.S. on par with such countries as Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Turkey (whereas countries such as Germany, Austria and Spain offer upwards of a month off).
So why is this? CNN took a look at the issue and came up with a few answers. Perhaps the best explanation is that it’s simply not required. Other countries require paid vacation days by law, whereas in the U.S., employers are not obligated by federal law to offer any, allowing even stingy vacation-offering employers to argue they’re going above and beyond what’s required of them.
A second reason is culture. Much like the right to own guns by Americans is a cherished right (well, by quite a few at least), so goes the right to month-long holidays by those in most European countries. Any effort to curtail that would cause an uproar and likely spur a change in governments (Viva les vacances!).
Finally, many Americans don’t blink twice about the fact that we simply work more days than many other countries, and they chalk that up to good ‘ol Protestant work ethic. Though, as John de Graaf from the Take Back Your Time organization notes in the article, there’s little proof that more working days equates to more productivity (you’re probably reading this on your work computer right now, right?).
If interested in helping to change this, you can donate to the Take Back Your Time organization, or I suppose you can lie, and just call in sick tomorrow and enjoy a four-day weekend. After all, isn’t that truly the American way?
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