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How Do Paid Vacations in America Compare to Other Countries?

By Dan Atkerson on March 02, 2016

Hard business decisionMany Americans today get only one week of vacation annually, two if you’re lucky. That alone would be sad enough to make Will Ferrell’s Elf sob, but it gets even more depressing when you learn that those weeks are even more rarely paid vacations. In fact, the U.S. is the only “advanced” economy that does not legally require employers to offer paid vacation time.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research recently released a study detailing how paid vacations in America compare to other countries, and just how far behind we are in the U.S. Some of the highlights include:

In the U.S.

  • No legal right to paid vacation
  • 16 average paid vacation days given (well below legally required amount in 19 other countries)
  • Low-wage, part-time, and small business employees are far less likely to get any paid vacation time at all
  • Most holidays are unpaid
In other advanced countries
  • Employees who work in the EU are given a minimum of 20 paid vacation days by law
  • Many EU countries offer 25-30 paid vacation days
  • Japan and Canada legally require employers to offer 10 paid vacation days
  • Most other countries give extra paid days to younger and older employees, workers involved in union duties or community service (i.e. jury duty), wedding days, or moving days
  • Between 5 to 13 paid holidays
The study authors have criticized the U.S. plan to let businesses volunteer to offer vacation time, saying that most business owners fail to offer paid leave without federal requirement. This is evidenced by the U.S. being the only “rich” country in the world that does not guarantee paid leave to employees.

Soon, however, that may change. A Florida legislator has proposed a policy change that would guarantee workers at least one week of paid vacation time every year. While that is still far below the standard in other advanced countries, it is a start.

Employment law attorney Dan A. Atkerson is proud to offer legal representation for employees subjected to workplace retaliation and workplace discrimination in the Dallas area.

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