Ever heard of it? Neither had I until just this past week when I came across The Vacation Equality Project! It’s main purpose is to inform the public about our country’s lack of guaranteed vacation days for the work force and encourage the White House to act on the current state of vacation time. As someone who enjoys traveling and is a firm believer in a healthy work/life balance, I thought it was worthy of a share.
Surprisingly, the United States is the only advanced economy in the whole wide world that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation days! I was mind blown when I read that not-so fun little fact. So what does that mean for the American public? Firstly, it means that none of us are guaranteed any paid vacation from our employer (so if you currently have some, I guess it’s time to count your blessings!). Secondly, since there’s no guarantee as far as paid time off goes, one in every four Americans has ZERO PTO per year! What?! That means that over 28 million people in this country don’t get to enjoy any days off per year on the company tab. This, to me, was shocking.
The video on the site, VacationEqualityProject.com, shows how many other countries worldwide guarantee paid vacation time for their work force. And not just one or two days, most guarantee more paid days off than the average full time job offers here in the US. Most provide around twenty days, while some, like France, offer a whopping 30!
In my opinion, one of the saddest aspects of the US not guaranteeing vacation days for the work force, is that a lot of the 25% that aren’t given vacation days, are also probably working minimum-wage jobs, where they can’t afford to take that day off that they need without setting themselves back financially.
At most of my past jobs, including the one I have now, I’ve been given ten paid days off per year. These accrue over time, so that after a year of work, I finally have my ten days (if I haven’t taken any over the course of the year I just worked). As a Manager of Company Culture, vacation is talked about by my team a lot. I’ve been asked numerous times about our policy and why it is such. I’ve also been asked how our amount of days was decided. Although I don’t have the answers to all or even most of their questions, (I was brought on after the vacation policy had been established), vacation is one of those things that people just want.
I know that for me, a day off can do wonders. Whether it’s taking a long-winded two week trip, or even a short weekend stay-cation. Regardless of where or when, a vacation is almost always refreshing. And even if not relaxing, I know very few people who would opt for a day of sitting at their work desk than a day frolicking free outside those four walls that you spend 40 hrs per week within.
Giving people the opportunity to simply enjoy life is vital. This past year has been quite a personal journey for me, and I’ve really focused on trying to change my life for the better and always do things that make me happy. Obviously, I do lots of fun stuff outside of work hours that makes me happy, but there’s nothing quite like a day off when you need one. Whether it be to take a vacation to Aruba, go to Disney Land for the day, or like the video says, even go to your child’s little league game, it’s important to feel as though you can take those well-deserved days just for yourself.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can watch the video and read more about the movement here.