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No-Vacation Nation Revisited

No-Vacation Nation Revisited

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Published by LansingStateJournal
The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.
The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.

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Published by: LansingStateJournal on May 23, 2013
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No-Vacation Nation Revisited
Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes, and John Schmitt
May 2013
Center for Economic and Policy Research
1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 20009202-293-5380
www.cepr.net
 
No-Vacation Nation Revisited
ii
Contents
 About the Authors
Rebecca Ray is a former Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Milla Sanes is a Program Assistant and John Schmitt is a Senior Economist at CEPR.
 Acknowledgements
 We thank Dean Baker, Heather Boushey, Liz Chimienti, John de Graaf, Lynn Erskine, and Helene Jorgensen for many helpful comments.
 
No-Vacation Nation Revisited
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1
Introduction
 The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workerspaid 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 Japanmandate 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 offersnone, but most of the rest of the world's rich countries offer at least six paid holidays per year.In the absence of government standards, almost one in four Americans has no paid vacation (23percent) and no paid holidays (23 percent). According to government survey data, the average worker in the private sector in the United States receives only about ten days of paid vacation andabout six paid holidays per year: less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of world's richeconomies excluding Japan (which guarantees only 10 paid vacation days and requires no paidholidays). The paid vacation and paid holidays that employers do make available are distributed unequally. According to the same government survey data, only half of low-wage workers (bottom fourth of earners) have any paid vacation (49 percent), compared to 90 percent of high-wage workers (topfourth of earners). The same is true for part-timers, who are far less likely to have paid vacations (35percent) than are full-timers (91 percent). The problems of low-wage and part-time workers aremagnified if they are employed in small establishments, where only 69 percent have paid vacations,compared to 86 percent in medium and large establishments. Even when low-wage, part-time, andsmall-business employees do receive paid vacations, they typically receive far fewer paid days off than higher-wage, full-time, employees in larger establishments. For example, low-wage workers with a vacation benefit received only nine days of paid vacation per year in 2012, compared to 16days of paid vacation for high-
 wage workers with paid vacations. If we look at all workers ― those who receive paid vacations and those who don't t
he vacation gap between low-wage and high- wage workers is even larger: only four days for low-wage workers, compared to 14 days for high- wage workers. This report reviews the most recently available data from a range of national and internationalsources on statutory requirements for paid vacations and paid holidays in 21 rich countries (16European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States). In addition toour finding that the United States is the only country in the group that does not require employers toprovide paid vacation time, we also note that several foreign countries offer additional time off foryounger and older workers, shift workers, and those engaged in community service including jury duty. Five countries even mandate that employers pay vacationing workers a small premium abovetheir standard pay in order to help with vacation-related expenses. Most other rich countries havealso established legal rights to paid holidays over and above paid vacation days. We distinguish
throughout the report between paid vacation ― or paid annual leave, terms we use interchangeably  ― and paid holidays, which are organized around particular fixed dates in the calendar. Our analysis
does not cover paid leave for other reasons such as sick leave, parental leave, or leave to care for sick relatives. (For international comparisons of paid sick leave see Heymann, Rho, Schmitt, and Earle(2009), and for parental leave, see Ray, Gornick, and Schmitt (2008).)

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