We went to a party over the weekend. It was slow at first, but got going once everyone's skids were greased with a little "Adult Beverage." And to be fair, we DID leave before the Karaoke...
Conversation eventually turned around to how much vacation time we "get" vs how much time we "take." Among the party goers were four attorneys (three of whom are pregnant and due within a month of each other - there must be something in the courthouse water, methinks).
We all compared notes on what different employers offer. ThatOneWife mentioned that the company she works for gives her 15 days a year, between sick time and vacation days, which can be used at her discretion. Others mentioned that this arrangement was quite generous, compared to their employers. Most seemed to get 10 days - the equivalent of two weeks. At five year's employment Mrs. ThatOneGuy gets five weeks. We're pretty lucky on that front. She did explain that she is "on call" from time to time, and when there are problems, she is one of the first to call, depending on the situation. That aside, she's got a pretty good arrangement, and they are pretty liberal with regard to time off - if nothing else (yes, she works on Utah county).
Then yesterday I was reading the latest issue of Men's Journal, and they have a bit about vacation time around the world. It's a bit written by Joel Stein, a columnist for the LA Times. In the article he states that Australians work less than Ben Affleck. (I laughed at that, and thought, geez, I wish I could work as little as him, but I would hope I make better work when I do it!)
The French take an average of 39 days off per year. In Sweden, 25 days off are the norm, via legislation. The Chinese, who don't have freedom of speech or a second child, get three weeks. In all, there are 96 countries that legislate vacation time for the country.
Here, we accept our pitiful two weeks thankfully, then many of us don't take them. Apparently we are so damn lazy, we can't even plan our time off. In Germany, where they build cars and them drive them too fast, they take 7.8 weeks off.
The average American gets 14 days off, but only takes 10, because it's apparently too important that we finish that powerpoint presentation. It would appear that we are in a competition to have less of a life than the next guy. We have this phrase, "time is money," but it's the time itself that is the currency, because its supply is so limited to us.
Studies show that workers who take more time off perform their duties better than the ones who are the "last ones out" each day. Vacations also reduce the likelihood of heart attacks in men by a whopping 32 percent.
Big business would have us believe that having staff away on vacations cause all sorts of chaos and inefficiencies. This isn't supported scientifically however. If this were the case, you would think a place like Australia would be stuck in the dark ages. But Sydney is like where George Jetson lives - everything sparkles, and is equipped with toilets from the future. And they're always on holiday. Think about it - whenever you go on vacation, there is a group of Australians drinking, and arguing about a sport you've never heard of - and they've already been there for a month.
You know your boss knocks off whenever he pleases. So does Congress. I say for four weeks a year, just don't show up.