Paid vacation? U.S. workers have no guarantees

WASHINGTON Wed May 16, 2007 5:44pm EDT

Two boys with fishing nets stand along the shoreline at sunset near Magic Island, at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 1, 2007. When it comes to guaranteed paid vacation, U.S. workers don't seem to get a break. While the French get 30 days of paid leave and most other Europeans receive at least 20, the country with the world's biggest economy does not guarantee workers a single day, researchers said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Lucy Pemoni

Two boys with fishing nets stand along the shoreline at sunset near Magic Island, at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 1, 2007. When it comes to guaranteed paid vacation, U.S. workers don't seem to get a break. While the French get 30 days of paid leave and most other Europeans receive at least 20, the country with the world's biggest economy does not guarantee workers a single day, researchers said on Wednesday.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Pemoni

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When it comes to guaranteed paid vacation, U.S. workers don't seem to get a break.

While the French get 30 days of paid leave and most other Europeans receive at least 20, the country with the world's biggest economy does not guarantee workers a single day, researchers said on Wednesday.

Most U.S. firms do in fact give employees vacations, but the lack of government guarantees means one in four private-sector workers do not get paid leave, said researchers for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington think tank.

"The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation days and paid holidays," said economist John Schmitt.

"Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn't worked," he added. "It's a national embarrassment that 28 million Americans don't get any paid vacation or paid holidays."

Workers in Finland had one of the best annual leave packages among developed countries, a study by the center found. Finnish workers received 30 days of paid vacation plus another nine paid holidays.

French workers were guaranteed 30 days of paid annual leave, but only one paid holiday. Most European workers were guaranteed at least 20 days of vacation, and some also received as many as 13 paid holidays.

Canadian workers were guaranteed 10 days of vacation plus another eight paid holidays, while Japanese laborers only were guaranteed 10 days of annual leave, the study found.

U.S. workers were guaranteed neither paid vacations nor paid holidays.

Despite the lack of government guarantees, 90 percent of U.S. employers offered vacation, the study found. Workers received an average of nine days of paid vacation and six paid holidays, a total of 15 days off per year.

"The sum of the average paid vacation and paid holidays provided to U.S. workers in the private sector -- 15 in total -- would not meet even the minimum required by law in 19 other rich countries," Schmitt said.

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