U.S. Employers Lag Behind Other Countries in Employee Vacation Time

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Studies show that countries with improved employee benefits, such as the number of vacation days offered, are reporting improved employee performance.

The United States has a reputation for being one of the world’s best countries to live and work. However, new studies show that the U.S. is falling behind when it comes to the number of vacation days being offered to eligible employees, and the number of employees eligible for this benefit.

Vacation Days in Other Countries Compared to the U.S.

U.S. employers provide the least amount of vacation days for their employees than any other industrialized country.

In France, for example, employees only have one paid holiday, but get up to 30 vacation days every year. In the UK, employees only get 20 vacation days, but they get 6 paid holidays off every year. Employees in Spain get 22 paid vacation days in addition to 12 paid holidays a year.

In the United States, eligible employees get two paid holidays (typically Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day) along with 5 to 7 paid vacation days. However, most employees in the U.S. are not eligible for these days, so they don’t get any paid holidays or vacation days.

Why Such a Big Discrepancy?

The main reason for the variation is that the United States is the only country that does not require companies to offer vacation days to their employees by law. In other countries, some companies are required to offer  senior employees a minimum of one week of vacation, while some countries require their companies to offer a set number of days to all employees with the number of days varying by position.

The Importance of Providing Adequate Vacation Time

In our country’s penny-pinching frame of mind, some employers view vacation time as a means of losing money and sacrificing efficiency. However, most companies are reporting that their employees are far more productive when they have access to vacation days than they are without them, especially toward the end of the year.

The reason for this is simple: Employees who are allowed to take vacations return to work refreshed, relaxed, and ready to get back to work. The burnout rates are lower in these countries, as are the turnover rates, number of call-outs, and customer complaints.

Offering vacation time also gives companies a competitive edge over other organizations when it comes to attracting talented, value-adding employees. Vacation can also be used as a reward mechanism for employees with higher seniority.

Still Hope For U.S. Employees

Not all American companies avoid offering vacation days or personal time. In fact, most companies do have a small number of vacation days built into every employment package, especially for salaried employees.

Some even allow for a small number of personal days, and give their employees the option to take these days or get paid for all of their unused vacation days at the end of the year. Other organizations may have programs through which employees can earn more vacation time or personal days based on performance or number of years worked.

Since employers are not required by law to provide vacation time for their employees, it is important for job seekers to find companies that go above and beyond to offer this benefit and, equally important, encourage their staff to take full advantage of their vacation time.

Robert Gray is the President of Insightlink Communications, providing the most effective employee survey tools to organizations of all sizes and types. Since 2001 he has been committed to employee retention strategies, exit strategies and more.

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