By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
Like most workers I know, I get two weeks of paid vacation a year. Holidays and personal days add up to another week. I also get two weeks of sick time if needed.
And I’m quite grateful.
As with many companies, I’ll earn more time off the longer I’m here. But I’m not sure what I would do with a third, or even a fourth, week of vacation.
Not using vacation time is something Americans are very good at, however.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans gave up an estimated 226 million vacation days last year. That translates to more than $34 billion worth of time lost on unused vacation days.
A CNN story said an average American worker getting 14 days off yearly only takes off 12.
There are many reasons for not taking a vacation.
In one survey, 34 percent of Americans who didn’t take a vacation last year said they couldn’t afford it to take one. Another 15 percent said they didn’t schedule far enough in advance, while another 15 percent said their work was their life.
For those of us who do have paid vacation time, we should be very thankful.
A recent Wall Street Journal survey found 55 million Americans don’t get paid vacations. A New York Times report said 40 million Americans get no paid sick leave.
And a recent American Time Use Survey, revealed educated workers were more likely to get time off. Nearly 72 percent of of college-educated workers got paid leave, versus 61 percent of those with only a high-school diploma and just 35 percent of high-school dropouts.
However, in Europe, companies are required to provide at least 20 days of paid leave. That’s four weeks. Some would argue the U.S. is the world’s top economy because of our work ethic. But is it killing us? The U.S. also is 28th in life expectancy, behind many European countries.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without mandatory paid time off.
For employees of 10 or more years, companies in the United Kingdom must offer 28 vacation days. That’s followed by France (25), German (20), Japan (20), Mexico (16) and China (10).
I’m not advocating making vacation mandatory. But I am saying everyone should take vacation time if they have it.
Contact Business Editor Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.