Fewer than 6 in 10 U.S. workers allowed paid time off

Less than six in ten U.S. workers get paid time off
Vacation is the main reason workers take time off. But only 59% of them have access to paid leave.
(Mike Eliason / AP Photo)

Last year, 59% of workers in the U.S. had access to paid leave – an option less available to those with lower levels of income and education, according to a government report this week.

Though nearly three-quarters of employees with a bachelor’s degree get paid time off, only 35% of workers with just a high school diploma can say the same, according to the Department of Labor.

Among employees earning more than $1,230 a week – that’s upwards of $60,000 a year – 83% get paid while on vacation, recovering from illness or running errands. Workers in management, business and financial operation positions are more likely to score pay while not on the job.

But only half of those who earn less than $540 a week, or less than $30,000 a year, get paid leave.  More than three-quarters of public sector workers have the opportunity, compared with 57% in the private sector. Only 22% of part-time workers get paid time off, while 71% of full-timers do.


Men and women get roughly the same access to paid leaves, as do whites and blacks. But only 43% of Latino workers are given the option by their employers, compared with 61% of non-Latinos.

Overall, however, nine in 10 workers can take some form of leave, including unpaid. Each week, 21% take time off – 15.6 hours on average.

In Europe, workers get at least 20 days of paid leave a year; in France, 30 days. American employees aren’t guaranteed any.



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