U.S. is only ‘advanced economy’ that does not require paid vacation

Memorial Day unofficially launches thousands of summer vacations, but about a quarter of all Americans will not be paid while they soak up some rest and relaxation.

A recent study said the United States is the only advanced economy that does not require paid vacation days or holidays.

The report, released Friday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, revisited a 2007 study that compared the U.S. with nearly two dozen other countries and also found it to be the only nation that does not require paid vacation or holidays.


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The recession-battered U.S. has not closed the gap since 2007, the center’s researchers said, and few companies have boosted employee benefits even as the economy has recovered.

“Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn’t worked,” said John Schmitt, senior economist and co-author of the report.

The study’s authors reported that a number of European countries guarantee their workers at least 20 paid vacation days per year. Some countries, such as Norway and France, legally require as many as 30 paid vacation days.

Canada and Japan guarantee at least 10 paid vacation days per year.

The report also tallied the average number of paid vacation and holidays provided to American workers in the private sector. The total -- 16 -- would not meet the minimum required by law in 19 countries.

The lack of paid time off is most acute for low-wage workers and employees working for small businesses, according to the report, which found that 49% of low-wage workers have paid vacation, compared with 90% of higher-wage workers.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has introduced a bill that would require employers to provide one week of paid vacation annually. The bill, which would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, has most recently been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.


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