Why do American workers need more vacations

Work instead of vacation : Company first for employees in the USA

When Donald Trump retired to an exclusive golf club in New Jersey for two weeks at the beginning of August, one statement was particularly important to him: "This is not a vacation," wrote the US President on Twitter. Trump wanted to signal that he would work through the summer - just as millions of his compatriots do. Unlike Europeans, many Americans go to the office or factory every day during the holiday season.

The enthusiasm for work makes entrepreneurs happy and frustrates the tourism industry: Americans have now amassed a mountain of around 660 million paid but not taken vacation days.

The reasons for the reluctance are only partly due to legal obstacles. Although the USA, unlike European countries, has no statutory right to vacation, nine out of ten workers and employees in America have contractually agreed paid vacation. The average is an entitlement to 20 paid vacation days per year.

Many US citizens do not get past ten days a year

That is significantly less than in Germany, where workers are allowed to relax for 27 days, or in France with its 30 days. But the key difference is that most Americans don't take full advantage of their vacation. The average vacation time actually taken in the US is 16 days, but many US citizens do not get more than ten days a year - often half of that is spent on Christmas days, which are not public holidays in the US.

The workers in the greater Washington area are particularly stubbornly sticking to their desks. Two out of three residents of the area let part of their vacation entitlement forfeit, determined the initiative financed by the tourism industry "Project: Time Off" - translated roughly: "Project Leisure". Many also work on their e-mails or stay in contact with the office in other ways during the holiday season. The “work vacation”, in which an employee pleases the boss even in their free time, is widespread. Andrew, a well-paid employee in the Washington area who prefers not to see his real name in the newspaper, speaks of a “John Wayne mentality”. “Not going to work is a sign of weakness. You have to be loyal to the company. "

Many are afraid of being expendable

Some people fear that they will come back to their desk after a few wonderful weeks at the beach and get a nasty surprise. Depending on the working atmosphere in a company or an office, such fears are well founded, knows Harry, a government employee. “There is always a concern that if you stay away too long, you will be seen as expendable,” he says. "If people can do without you, they may not want you at all." Harry emphasizes that the company is "more important than anything else" in this understanding.

In part, the lack of vacation is a consequence of the weakness of the unions in a country where everyone is close to himself. The holiday abstinence also shows the influence of the values ​​adopted from the American founding fathers, according to which hard work is godly and idleness is the beginning of all vice. The "Boston Globe" was therefore forced to contradict the Americans' accusation that the Europeans were lazy and shirked work: France has a lower per capita income than the USA, but the French also have more of it Life, the newspaper noted.

Nevertheless: Many Americans simply do not believe that their colleagues have everything under control during the holiday season. In a survey by "Project: Time Off", one in three participants said they take little vacation because there is no one who does the job as well as he does. Americans have a strange relationship with vacation, like columnist Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post wrote: “In theory we like him, but in practice we often fear him.” Samuelson speaks of American “labor martyrs” who simply cannot stop.

Trump apparently has a relaxed relationship with leisure

While many companies benefit from the “work martyrs”, hotels and holiday parks are annoyed by the work frenzy. In 2015 alone, the economy lost revenues of $ 220 billion because Americans preferred to spend their time at their desks rather than on the beach, "Project: Time Off" has calculated. There is no sign of any change in this attitude, on the contrary. The average worker now takes four days less vacation than in 2000.

Unlike most Americans, the president seems to have a very relaxed attitude towards leisure. Trump has not only spent two weeks on the golf course since taking office, but also visited his Mar-a-Largo property in Florida on eight weekends. Nevertheless, criticism of the 71-year-old's many time offs was inappropriate, commented the television broadcaster CNN, which is critical of the president: After all, America can at least recover a little from Trump on the head of state's days off.

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