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America Has Become a ‘No-Vacation’ Nation

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Christmas is a day of celebration, not just because of its religious importance, but also because it provides Americans a rare opportunity to break away from their otherwise mundane life and enjoy a day off with family and friends. In an otherwise Stakhanovite regime, Christmas represents a rare break. 

It is no secret that the American oligarchs treat workers as slaves, forcing them to work long hours and with almost no paid vacation time. Fear of repercussions, of being replaceable, and of being forced out of job is increasingly forcing Americans to let go of their vacation time and drudge.

In 2017 the average American took just 17.2 days of vacation. Around half of the American workforce did not even avail their full allotment of days off. This grim situation is very different from the situation in other developed countries like France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom where workers are allotted 30 or more days of vacation time in a year. In fact, the US is the only advanced economy that doesn't guarantee its workers any paid vacation time. As a result, a quarter of American private-sector workers don't receive any time off at all. What’s even more appalling is that the US is one of the very few countries and the only developed country that does not guarantee any paid maternity leave. 

As Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) senior economist John Schmitt writes, "Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn't worked. It's a national embarrassment that 28 million Americans don't get any paid vacation or paid holidays.

And even though some companies provide paid time off for employees in the US, the average vacation time of 15 days (according to CEPR) in a year falls dismally short of the minimum amount required by law in 19 of the world's richest countries. A chart compiled by Statista journalist Niall McCarthy, citing data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), illustrates just how wide the discrepancy in vacation days actually is between the US and the rest of the world.

America Has Become a ‘No-Vacation’ Nation

Americans now also put in more hours per week, however, this was not the case always. During the 1870s the average European worker worked for almost 66 hours a week, while those in America toiled for 62. By 1930 this gap had narrowed with Europeans clocking 47.8 hours while the Americans worked for 48 hours.  The narrowing trend continued and by 2000 American working hours were a lot longer compared to that in Europe. American males, in 2000, worked for 43.3 hours against a European average of 39.2 (the female gap was smaller, at 37.2 to 36.1 hours).

A survey by Project Time Off found that the main reason why Americans are reluctant to take all their vacation and work for such long hours is fear of being replaceable. Other factors include heavy workloads and lack of cover from fellow employees, who are also running in the same rat race. 

However, numerous researches suggest that forgoing holiday time has little or no positive impact on a person’s performance. Rather, contrary to popular belief, toiling at the workplace for long hours and without vacation negatively impacts performance.

A Harvard Business Review study in 2016 found that those who took 11 or more days off a year were almost twice as likely to get a raise or a bonus compared to those who took ten days off or fewer. So next time you decide upon forgoing a vacation remember this study!

Studies conducted by ‘Project: Time Off’ show that workers who used their vacation days were more likely to be promoted than those who forfeited them.

Another study of munitions workers in the first world war found that their output per hour declined once they spent over 50 hours a week working. The Institute for Employment Studies in Britain reviewed academic research on the subject and concluded that “long hours working (more than 48 hours a week) was associated with various negative effects, such as decreased productivity, poor performance, health problems, and lower employee motivation.”

Now that Christmas is around the corner and numerous studies show that taking some time off work is actually good for your career, it’s the perfect time to opt for a small vacation. We suggest taking Monday, 24th December off from work to enjoy an extended weekend from 22nd December to 25th December!!

Author: Pradeep Banerjee