Opinion: U.S. employees deserve annual leave


Jean Holman

Compared to other countries, America pays their employees significantly less for vacation days. The United States should legally require employers to pay their workers annual leave. From jury duty to moving to a new home, employees face responsibilities that force them to miss work and get no pay.

According to a Center for Economic and Policy Research report, one in four U.S. employees have no paid vacation. This statistic is quite depressing when examining other countries’ policies. 

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development compiled data  showing that while the United Kingdom pays their workers for  28 days of annual vacation and nine public holidays, the United States pays for only 10 days and all public holidays, and offers zero days of annual vacation

It’s no joke that U.S. employees are overworked. American workers deserve more paid time off not only because they give back to society through civic duties, but also because of the toll and stress caused by overworking. 

A StressPulse survey found that 46% of stress from employees came from the amount of workload and 20% came from their work and personal lives. Considering some workplaces are far more stressful and dangerous compared to others, it is no surprise that many employees feel stressed with their workload. Employees need more paid vacation time to manage this stress.

Some countries determine how much paid time off an employee deserves based on their profession. For example, a Center for Economic and Policy Research study shows that, in Germany, employees age 16 and under receive 30 paid vacation days while employees under 17 get 27 paid vacation days. Most Germans these ages are students working part-time jobs, therefore, they deserve more paid time off because of other important responsibilities like school work. 

Employees who have worked for a company for longer periods of time can also receive benefits in countries outside the U.S. and Canada for instance, depending on which province offers  employees who have worked for five to 10 years an extra paid vacation week

Japan  grants employees a total of 20 paid vacation days for working under the same employer for more than 18 months. 

Some companies in the U.S. offer these benefits as well, but it is not a legal requirement. 

Employees who dedicate more time to their employer deserve to be awarded. Receiving additional paid vacation days would incentivize workers against quitting their job. .Other countries like Spain also allow for extra paid leave for specific events like jury duty, moving to a new house or getting married

The United States should legally incorporate these guidelines since employees are missing work to perform civic tasks solely for their community. All states should require private employers to pay employees for these absences. We as citizens are contributing to the system, providing our aid to the community and, therefore, should not be penalized for doing so.

U.S. employees should be paid for annual leave for many reasons including volunteering, helping with civic duties, performing union work, and needing time off for important tasks like moving to a new apartment. Some employees have three jobs, go to school and work for a company for three years without annual leave. Every employee’s circumstances are different and it is not up to employers to decide what is best for them. The U.S. must mandate paid leave.