11 Points

11 Countries That Shockingly Beat the Hell Out of Us in Vacation Time
written by Sam Greenspan

I was trying to figure out some vacation time for the end of this year recently when I realized that there's never been a single year in my adult life where I've used up all of my vacation days.

Now, granted, I'm not the best example... before this past February, I had worked from home for four-plus years, and that gave me a lot of flexibility that obviated the need for taking a ton of vacation. But still, I'm no yeoman farmer or anything... I'm a guy who likes to have a little dickin' around time whenever possible... so why is it that I'm never using up my (already paltry) vacation time?

In my soul search for the answer, I've decided to act like a real American... and blame the government. I'm not taking all of my vacation days because the government isn't making me.

The United States is the only first-world country where the government does not mandate that its workers get (and take) a minimum amount of vacation time. The rest of them all do it. Plenty of third-world countries even get in on that action. But not us.

Now, yes, most companies do give vacation time and several holidays off. According to an Expedia.com survey, the average American worker gets 14 days off per year. Except we don't HAVE to. If your company wanted, they could strip you of all your vacation time, make you work Christmas... and the government wouldn't care.

For today's 11 points, I'm going to look at 11 countries who shockingly treat their workers better than the U.S. (At least in terms of vacation days. For the sake of this list, getting a mandatory 14 days off from a nickel-an-hour sweatshop job is considered better treatment than no mandatory time off from sitting in a cubicle doing whatever it is people do on Lotus Notes.)

  1. Mexican vacation looks awesome! Beads, man boobs, thumbs ups, it's all there.
    Mexico. Sure, when Mexicans come north they can get paid more... but they're missing out on a lot of kickass vacation time. In Mexico, you get six days mandatory vacation in your first year of employment, and it keeps going up after that, increasing to 14 days by your fifth year and going up two days per five years after that.

    And... in Mexico, you get paid MORE for your vacation than you do for showing up. You get paid for your vacation, plus an extra 25 percent... so if you have eight days of vacation, you get 10 days worth of pay.

    And, as I said in the preamble, yes, those 10 days of pay probably add up to what an American makes in one day or less. But, hey, you had to work to make that money... they didn't.

  2. Brazil. Brazil doesn't just mandate 30 consecutive days of vacation time for the workers in the country. Brazilian employees are guaranteed one day off every year... to donate blood. Seriously. That's such a free day off to do nothing.

    It's like when my elementary school used to give everyone Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off even though less than 20 percent of the school was Jewish. An entire generation of black kids in University Heights and Cleveland Heights, Ohio, grew up with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as their favorite holidays.

  3. China. The Chinese government requires that employees get 10 days off. Oh, and that even though burgeoning free markets seem to be sprouting up everywhere that you don't ask questions.

  4. Croatia. I like this one. Croatia mandates that employees get 18 days of vacation. But... companies can designate Saturdays as those days... even if they're a company that's not open on Saturdays. So employees and employers are constantly fighting over whether vacation days will be actual vacation days... or whether they'll be on vacation days that are already part of the weekend.

    (Yes, I know this one is against the spirit of this 11points list. But whatever. I found it to be a charming anecdote.)

  5. Saudi Arabia. Every employee gets 30 mandatory days off work. And it's even better if you're a woman in the workforce (which, from what the Liberal Media has led me to believe, happens as infrequently as a total eclipse of the sun, moon or heart). Women in Saudi Arabia can usually get one day off per month, with pay... for menstrual leave.


  6. A photo from St. Patrick's Day in Ireland. Whomever the guy is under the mask... yeah, he's dressed like that while his company is forced to pay his daily salary.
    Ireland. You'd figure that good, Irish Catholic potato famine mentality would lead to Ireland being even more dick about vacation time than the U.S.

    Not at ALL. Irish workers get a mandatory 20 days off plus nine public holidays. One of those is St. Patrick's Day (which we have to burn a vacation day on, like suckers). And four of the others are just bank holidays.

  7. Pakistan. Pakistan has the 138th largest GDP per capita in the world (just 126 spots behind the U.S.) They also made a sport coat I once bought for $27. Pakistani workers get a mandatory 15 vacation days.

  8. France. Not shocking, since they're a developed country... but it is shocking just how MUCH more vacation they get than us. They get five weeks of mandatory vacation per year. Not counting holidays. And... when they are working, their work week can't be more than 35 hours or they get paid mandatory overtime.

    Roughly translated, that means the average American worker puts in about 400 more hours of work per year than the average French worker (2,000 hours to 1,600 hours)... that's almost 17 full 24-hour days, or 50 standard American eight-hour work days.

  9. Estonia. I'm guessing most Americans don't know where Estonia is. Which should make it sting even more that they get 28 days off of work, mandatory, every year.

  10. Vietnam It's good to know that even sweatshops in a communist country have stricter vacation policies than companies in the U.S. They get 10 mandatory vacation days per year.

  11. India. I'm sure this drives Dell crazy. Indian workers get a mandatory SIXTY days of vacation every year. I'm sure they use a couple of those days to make sure they cleared out their cookies and cache to see if that's the reason their sound card and keyboard stopped working (spoiler alert: it isn't), but after that, hey, 58 days of partying down.

[Most of this info was sourced by The Straight Dope and Wikipedia]


This post was originally published on Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 12:01:00 AM under the category Travel.

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