America is the only rich country that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation or holidays

May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day! If your employer is giving you the day off, with pay, pat yourself on the back. You're one of the lucky ones! As this graph from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows, the United States is the only developed country that doesn't guarantee its workers either paid vacation or holidays:

 

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The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation. European countries establish legal rights to at least 20 days of paid vacation per year, with legal requirements of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries. Australia and New Zealand both require employers to grant at least 20 vacation days per year; Canada and Japan mandate at least 10 paid days off. The gap between paid time off in the United States and the rest of the world is even larger if we include legally mandated paid holidays, where the United States offers none, but most of the rest of the world's rich countries offer at least six paid holidays per year.

Of course, in practice, richer workers are able to negotiate for both paid vacation and paid holidays. It's poorer workers who can't take any time off. This table shows how it actually works out across the economy:

 

So among richer workers, almost all employers offer paid vacation and holidays, and quite a bit of it. Among poorer workers, less than half get paid vacation, and even when they do, their employers offer a lot less of it. This is one more way in which the poor often end up working much harder than the rich.

Much more here.

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Timothy B. Lee · May 27, 2013