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Perspective

Embarrassing. That best describes the US approach to paid vacation time, and it’s embarrassing on two levels. Not only does the US lag behind other Western nations in its treatment of workers in this matter, but it also favors senior-level executives far more than the rank-and-file. According to a recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the US is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee workers paid vacation. As a result, one in four private-sector workers (about 28 million) do not receive any paid vacation or paid holidays. The report, entitled “No Paid Vacation,” reviewed the policies of 21 rich countries (16 in Europe as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the US). All EU countries give their employees a set minimum of 20 vacation days per year, plus paid holidays that can add as much as 10 days. In the US, which relies on the private side to provide paid vacation time, the allowance is generally 10 days plus some paid holidays. Moving beyond the scope of thestudy, at the other end of the spectrum, US executives who have generous vacation allowances boast that they can’t take all of it. Something is wrong with this picture, and I reckon it’s getting worse.

Tony LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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