Do Americans get less vacation?

Link to column: Do Americans get less vacation than…

I’m a Brazilian that has been living in the US for almost 5 years.

In Brazil, you get full 30 days of vacation after a year. The thing is, these 30 days are calendar days, not work days, and you have to take them all at once. So if you subtract the weekends and the occasional holiday, you’ll end up with only 21 to 22 actual work days if you play it right. You do get a vacation allowance, though. And you can “trade” 10 days of your vacation for money (i.e. you only take 20 calendar days).

Everything considered, I think the American system is better. With the 15 work days I get here after 2 years on my job, I can effectively take much more than 30 days of vacation, if I combine them with holidays and weekends. And I have much more flexibility (I can make 3 one-week long trips through the year, for example, which for me is much better).

Back in Brazil I’ve been sometimes forced to take money “under the table” and not take my days off. You can’t really complain about it to anyone because jobs there are much harder to find, and you don’t want to risk losing yours. Also, you have to usually wait for 2 years before you take your first vacation (you get the right for vacation AFTER one year, remember, and you have to spend the days during the following year).

– Mauro

NOTE: I have edited this post to add the link to the column. I have also moved it to the appropriate forum. – CKDextHavn
[Edited by C K Dexter Haven on 03-02-2001 at 11:58 AM]

I’m in the UK, and in the company I work for, you get 27 paid days vacation per year from day 1 and after 15 years service you get an extra 5 days holiday per year (or a weeks pay if you want it). You can take these whenever you want (within reason), except 2 days which must be taken between Christmas Day and New Year (not usually a problem).

So after 15 years and including the public holidays, you would be getting 40 days vacation per year.

And the downside?
>There isn’t one :wink:

Is this outrageous fortune, or there other similarly lucky people out there?


I’m sorry guys, I started this thread in the wrong forum…

Doh! I thought I had posted in the wrong forum, but it’s actually in the right one… sorry again.

How come Cecil thinks the Americans only get 9 holidays? the US government gets 10:

New Years, Martin Luther King’s B-Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Vetern’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

MY local county gives 12 holidays with an extra day for Thanksgiving and Christmas while companies will sometimes only give 6. Where did Cecil get 9 and which ones?

My WAG for his missing holiday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. When I lived in Illinois, we didn’t get MLK day. Instead, the schoolchildren took Kasmir Pulaski day off, but the adults didn’t.

My four adult life jobs, all private sector US, offered the following days off: Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, July 4th, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. That was 6 paid holidays. One place also included the day after Thanksgiving and a half-day each for both New Years Eve and Christmas Eve, for a total of 8. I was never offered the bank/gov holidays, though I did work for one guy who offered the week between Christmas and New Years as either extra paid time off, or as a double pay week if you were willing and needed at work. Special case. All of them had the typical vacation deal, two weeks after one year, with various formulae for adding days with longevity.

What has always been interesting to me is that banks seem to go ahead and give those extra government holidays like Veteran’s Day and Presidents Day that many other private sector folks don’t get. Banks are in it for the money, right? Yet they’re paying people for time off that otherwise is mostly reserved for the public sector. Probably something I don’t know here, . . .

You did post in the wrong forum, but C K Dexter Haven, the infinitely patient moderator of Comments on Staff Reports kindly moved it for you.

Almost certainly there is a downside. Earnings in Europe are generally somewhat lower than in the U.S. for similar jobs. Longer vacations certainly aren’t the only cause of lower earnings, but I’m sure they contribute to the trend. If that’s a price you’re willing to pay, then fine. But don’t kid yourself that there is no price to pay.

The real price is in an American view of work that completely misses the critical need we all have for rest. Study after study shows that people are more efficient, creative, and effective when they are adequately rested. Yet one of the top fears quoted by American employers is that employees are wasting precious time. (Of course they are! They’re exhausted!)

The fact is, more hours on the job do not translate into higher productivity, but we Americans allow ourselves to be bought off with modestly higher wages in exchange for work schedules that damage our health, our reason, AND our ability to do our jobs as well as we might.

Before leaving the ranks of the gainfully employed to strike out on my own, I managed a department in a company in which mandatory overtime was the standard. I balked at this nonsense, and was shot down, and so I turned to surreptious time off for my staff. I allowed unrecorded personal days and covered for individuals while they were away. Over two years, by all the objective standards my company used, my department had the highest efficiency and productivity ratings in the company. At my exit interview, when they asked my secret, I was blunt. “I sent my people home at a reasonable hour.” My boss laughed; I think he’d suspected the truth. I found out later the HR Director was livid. In my experience, for most HR people, the rules are far more important than actual human beings.

If you want to work yourself into the ground, you certainly should be allowed to – and be compensated for your time and blood accordingly. But what this country really needs is an employment standard that allows people the rest they need without being penalized just because they may occasionally want to see their families, their pets, or their beds. In the end, it will actually be better not only for individuals but also for the companies they work for.

Okay, off my soapbox. (I gotta stop getting so worked up about stuff.)

When I read that in “Japan, Korea, and many Muslims countries” women get 1 day off a month (called “menstrual leave” in the column) my first thought was geez, they must bleed faster in other countries or something. One day? What’s the idea behind just one day when the bodily function typically takes 4-7?

I obviously cannot speak for all women, but from my experience and the experience of at least a few other women I’ve talked to, the cramps/nausea/pain/dizziness/whatever are the worst on the first day. I’m usually able to Advil most of the pain away but if it weren’t for over the counter medication, I’d have to take a day of bedrest every month. By day 2 I feel fine, though.

Cecil really should do more fact checking. Japanese women do NOT get “menstrual leave.” “seiri kyuka” was the law starting in 1947, but was eliminated in 1986 upon the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.

I’ve lived in Germany for most of the last 20 years and I know of no Germany who receives less than six weeks vacation. In addition, they receive vacation pay so they may enjoy themselves. Handicaped receive more vacation. The workweek is 37.5 hours. No one moonlights, as the income tax is more than 50% plus the other taxes.

The six weeks vacation is the reason one sees Germans all over the world.

bungie_us: so have you sent the story to Scott (Dilbert) Adams yet?

Wow, John, it never occurred to me, but as soon as you said it, I thought, how obvious. And now that you mention, that creepy HR Director did have a Catbert air about her.

What most people don’t realize is that (at least I know for sure in IL and FL) you DON’T have to give any holidays off.

(IL and FL) is where I worked in H/R.

Benefits can even vary from employee to employee provided they are not done for illegal reasons. (for example you can’t say I’m not giving you Christmas off 'cause you’re a woman)

The hotel in FL I worked at we go NO holidays and NO sick leave. As a result most of our staff was lousy and turnover great. However that employer gave me a year end bonus that (ironically) turned out to be MORE than had I been paid for the 6 (at the time) major holidays and three weeks off at time and a half.

So I stayed.

But there is no law per say that requires you to give such and such.

Employers can dictate terms pretty much at will. For example you get two weeks vacation a year to be use in incriments of 1 week at a time.

Most states require employers to pay you for accured time off. However most employers get around this easily by saying you don’t earn any vacation till the day after you’ve been employed one year.

And they can change it. While they can’t take away what you had earned, our hotel where I work gave new starts 2 weeks vacation, 1 week sick leave. Now they said one week after a year and 3 days sick leave. And if you were there less than a year, as long as you hadn’t earned that much they prorated you down. Or if you had earned that much you stopped earning more.

Sick leave is also a “Conditional” benefit (example: you get three days of sick leave PROVIDED your sick) so even if they are “earned” you aren’t eligible to be paid for them if you quit or get fired as they are conditional.

So you see it pays to look into benefits deeply before taking a job.

The one side note I noted was most employers have NO problem given unpaid leave. I was getting 3 weeks off + 1 week sick leave + 2 personal days. So when I took my current job they couldn’t match that but they did agree to up my salary to equal the extra week off + 2 personal days. So I can in effect take those days off as unpaid, yet still get paid for them.

Cecil Adams didn’t say that the “menstrual leave” was legislated. Could it be that many or most companies still adopt that practive even without the legal requirement? In the column Cecil also said

But as other posters have pointed out, those firms are under no legal obligation to do so.

Holidays in the UK are not as high as was stated.

You are only legally entitled to public holidays plus further days up to a total of 20 days(came into European law in October 1999 but quite a few of the crap employers haven’t caught up yet) but no reputable company goes as low as this - each European country has differant numbers of public holidays, in the UK some days are considered as public holidays by some companies but strictly speaking they are not such as Easter Tuesday or maybe an extra day at at each of the half term breaks like Whitsun etc.

To qualify for these holidays you must have been in full-time employment continously with that employer for 13 weeks, some companies tried to dodge this by employing people for just less that the defined hours for full time employment and offered ‘overtime’ but again the European Commission stepped in where the UK government had failed to protect its citizens and now these workers get their leave as a direct ratio of their hours at the same rate as full-timers.

I once worked at a company that gave only 15 days which is piss poor, that rose to 20 days after one year and that was it.

Most companies here offer at least 25 days, usually rising to 30 or so after around ten years.

I haven’t seen anyone mention maternity or paternity leave on full pay or sick pay.

This on UK and European maternity leave at full pay(the government reimburses the employer),9547,208_160782,00.html

The employer is absolutely not allowed to employ a full time replacement and this can be a heavy burden on small companies, as temps can be expensive to hire.
Many employers offer a period of half pay in addition to this, usually in areas of high skills and qualifications and labour('scuse the pun) shortages.

Sick pay in the UK - You are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, which the employer reclaims from the government,a total of 28 days in 3 years. After this period of time you get incapacity benefit but if this is as a result of injury where compensation is paid, such as a car accident, you have to repay this money.

The vast majority of UK private companies reduce your pay to half after the compulsory 28 days at full pay but when added to benefits paid by the state there isn’t not that much differance, especially as taxable income is less.

In most government , local and national, National Health, Police, etc, work you get full pay for at least 8 months and in my case, working in a prison where the risks are considered to be greater, you can go 18 months sick on full pay after which you will probably be offered a pension which will have been given significant added years enhancement by the Prison Service board. Actually if it obvious you will not be returning to work you can be retired sooner so as to employ your replacement - this is a Prisons service only benefit as far as I know.

I’d be interested to know how other nationalities provide sickness and other benefits.

Philo –
What on earth is “Kasmir Pulaski Day”???

Pulaski was a Polish patriot who fled Poland and fought and died in the American Revolution. He has been called the Father of American Cavalry. He has seven counties and at least three towns named after him in the U.S. I didn’t realize that he had a holiday, though.