Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vacation? What's That?

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Can I just say, I am so weary of reading the words "The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that still uses capital punishment"; or, "The United States has the second worst newborn death rate in the modern world"; or "The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship" -- or the latest: "The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation or holidays":

No-Vacation Nation

May 2007, Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt

This report reviewed international vacation and holiday laws and found that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation or holidays. As a result, 1 in 4 U.S. workers do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays. The lack of paid vacation and paid holidays in the U.S. is particularly acute for lower-wage and part-time workers, and for employees of small businesses.

This report also includes a comparative appendix with information on paid leave and holiday laws in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

All of us pay a price for this, as Ezra Klein points out:

I tend to think it's easier to not see the lack of mandatory paid vacation and holiday as much of a problem if you're a highly educated, white collar worker, and even easier if you're a stay-at-home, freelance writer. It will simply never be true for you that the minimum is your reality.

But that doesn't mean it's not true for others. According to the CEPR study (pdf), about a quarter of workers don't get any paid vacation or holidays. If you make less than $15 an hour, that number jumps to 31%. If you do get paid vacation, on average, you get 12 days of it a year. That's less than the statutory minimum in every advanced country save Japan and Canada, and I'd bet the average in both countries well outpaces the average here.

And it's not just vacation days. Nearly half of all private sector workers get no paid sick days. In the bottom quarter of US workers, 80% are deprived -- and this is exactly the group that can't afford to take an unpaid sick day. And so far as family values go, only one in three workers has paid sick days they can use to care for ill children.

But really, unpaid is a bit misleading here: The employer isn't paying for worker illness, to be sure. But we are. ...

Via Cursor.

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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