You have to laugh

Where oh where do some Americans get their information? Along with the (in)famous Arby’s ad a decade ago — which claimed British beef was violently over-cooked and cost something like a month's salary per kilo — I have to file this wee nugget:

Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks.

Yeah right. Five to six weeks. Uh-huh.


  1. I must say, this is fairly widely believed in the US. Do you have any idea what the actual numbers are? Supposedly, some governments in Europe require a minimum number of weeks of vacation, but that may come from the same false source.Ben Langhinrichs#
  2. 25 - 30 Days a year seems to be the norm…. When I remember to take them !!
  3. But isn't that statement true? I work for a company headquartered in Europe (not Great Britain) where the employees take much longer vacations than we do here in the US…Bart#
  4. Europe generally takes more holiday than the US, no question. But then our overall quality of life is lower and the cost of living higher ;-)

    I’m sure there’s a European nation that requires its workforce to take five weeks or whatever… but I don’t know it. All I do know is I get 20 days a year, and taking those can sometimes be a struggle.

    Of course there are plenty of people who take more — and in our line of business there are many contractors who can do what they like — but 5 - 6 weeks as an average number sounds extremely high to me.

    In parts of continental Europe there are long periods over the summer when certain businesses close for long periods of time. That’s different. It’s not paid holiday, and it’s not as prevalent as it once was.Ben Poole#
  5. Over here in Germany there's a mininum of 24 workdays of vacation per year regulated by law.
    See "Bundesurlaubsgesetz " (state law for vacations) at link (german)

    And I'm personally looking forward to a 5 week vacation in feb/mar :-)Oliver#
  6. Here in Sweden 25 days are the norm.
    Our company has 30 days, but we don't have any paid overtime so you win some and you loose a lot.Jens#
  7. Paid overtime? 24 days plus? You'll be telling me you have money left over at the end of the month next… ;-)Ben Poole#
  8. 30 days indeed, Ben. That is for the girl. Me, I have none. :-)Volker Weber#
  9. Well, you figure that 20 days off is 4 weeks (weekends don't count, for anyone who's going to challenge my math). Then if you get holidays like Christmas on top of that…well, you can hit that 5-6 week number pretty easily.

    Of course, you're right about having to make sure you actually take the vacation you earn for it to mean anything. I'm still looking for that job with 52 weeks paid vacation…

    - Julian
    Julian Robichaux#
  10. just for reference, down here in Australia we get 20 days paid leave per year, which can usually be "rolled-over", so you can accumulate leave if you don't take it the year it's given. We also get around 10 or 11 paid public holidays (christmas, easter etc) every year.

    Contractors don't get any paid leave, including public holidays…

    I lived in the US for a while and was horrified by the prospect of only two weeks leave a year….

    That said, I have worked for a few companies where the ability to take leave is pretty tightly controlled, so you can't always guarantee that you will get the benefit of your 20 days a year…but it sure makes for nice dreaming should you find the time!Laurette Bowyer#
  11. well, here in Austria we get 25 days paid leave per year. Social workers (my wife for example) get 1 extra week per year - and if she saves it for five years the company gives her an extra week - this is all regulated by law so not a perk of this particular company.

    On a similar note I used to work in Switzerland - there we got 4 weeks a year and I negotiated my contract so that I got an extra month off per year - so I was very happy to have 8 weeks a year ;o) This is not the norm though.

    In Austria we have about 10 public holidays in addition ;o)

    Life is good ;o)ursus#
  12. Heh heh. Julian, we get certain public hols in the UK on top of our paid holidays. For example: Christmas Day, New Years Day, and several so-called “bank holidays” during the year. So yeah, that’s more than four weeks. But I was under the impression the States have much the same? Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and so forth?Ben Poole#
  13. In the US, you start with 2 weeks vacation. After 5 years of service with same company, you get 3 weeks. After 10 years, 4 weeks and that's it.

    We do have 9 paid holidays as well as 3 paid personal days, but we definitely do not have 20 days of vacation when we start. Also, it is uncommon to take more than 10 consecutive days off of work for vacation time.

    I am one of those Americans who think you might have it a little better off then the average Joe. Also, we hardly ever stay at a company long enough to get to 4 weeks. Fortunately, I was hired in with 3 weeks at my present employer but will still have to wait 10 years to get 4 weeks of vacation time if I don't make manager before then (who knows if I will be here more than 5 years). I guess it all depends on your position and once you do get 4 weeks off, your so busy you don't have the time to go anywhere :)David Hernandez#
  14. Well, where I work, a state government in the US, you start with nothing. You earn 10 hours a month until 10 years, then get 12 hours a month, then 14 hours after 15 years. Plus, you can accumulate it, but only to 24 times your rate. Talk about wanting to make it complicated!!! But, unlike the rest of you, if you haven't earned it yet, you're just out of luck!! [smiley frown] Debbie Byrd#
  15. Now that is really harsh!Ben Poole#
  16. Hrm. In South Africa we have a legal minimum of 15 working days, but it can be a lot higher at the company's discretion. I think that at least 1 week of that *has* to be taken each year. Most companies don't allow you to accumulate leave. After a year or so, you lose it if you don't take it.

    We also have 36 'sick days' allowed in 3 year cycles, and less ethical types tend to regard that as another 12 paid days of leave per year.

    We have a heap of public holidays on top of that, and the one small-but-nice gesture we have (not sure if other countries do this) is that if a public holiday happens on a Sunday, then everyone gets the Monday off. It's great when the legislators have the public interest at heart :-)

    (As for the beef prices per kilo, Ben, it might not be as expensive as a month's salary, but I know that your bovines are horrendously expensive compared to ours ;-)Colin Pretorius#
  17. Yeah, we get some government holidays every year in the U.S. of A., but not a huge amount. I think the base amount is about 7 or 8 (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, etc.), and you get a few more obscure holidays if you work for a bank or the government.

    Colin brings up a good point about sick time, though. I think most companies allow between 5 and 10 days of sick time per year, although (as Colin was saying) whether or not you actually have to be sick to take the days usually depends on the person.

    Are the 20 days you're talking about just vacation, or are they vacation and sick time all rolled into one? I recently worked for a company that had "PTO" days (Personal Time Off), which was sick time and vacation time all in the same pool. That worked out pretty well, as long as you weren't too sickly.

    - Julian
    Julian Robichaux#
  18. I know if Australia the 20 days does not include sick leave, which can be anywhere from 5 - 15 days, depending on the company. In addition there is also personal leave, stress leave, maternity leave, paternity leave - all of which are usually dependant on the company.

    There is also a thing called a "Rostered Day Off" that a company I used to work for had. A standard working week was 38hrs, but everyone worked 40hrs, and then every 20 days had accumulated a "RDO". These could be taken at any time, just like annual leave. However, this is pretty rare now, and most companies seem to require a 40hr week anyway….Luarette Bowyer#
  19. Colin [16] everything is expensive in the UK… ;-)

    With regards "sick days" I've heard of this in other countries. In the UK, if you're off sick, and you're a permanent employee, then you're paid as normal within reason. Anyone on long-term leave has to provide all kinds of proof of illness, and their pay / contract may be altered, depending on the situation. The concept of xx sick days being some kind of entitlement is anathema to most people, but there are always exceptions!Ben Poole#

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