US ranks among the worst countries in world for paid time off

A new report finds that US workers have the least paid time off in the world

Abe Asher
Wednesday 07 December 2022 19:10 GMT
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A week after Congress and President Joe Biden failed to approve a deal that would have given the country’s railroad workers paid sick leave, a new report has found that US workers as a whole have among the least paid time off in the entire world.

The report, published by the career resource website, includes analysis of data on paid leave policies collected in August from 197 countries across the globe.

What it found is not pretty for American workers. US workers have no guaranteed paid leave days and 10 paid public holidays, for a total of just 10 paid days off per year. That ties the country with the tiny Oceanic nation of Nauru for the second-fewest number of paid days off, with only The Federated States of Micronesia — a country of just more than 100,000 people spread out over some 600 islands in the Pacific Ocean — offering fewer days off.

The US’s lack of federal laws guaranteeing its workers paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, and vacation days makes it an outlier among developed nations. That lack of protection for American workers was in the headlines again last week after Congress voted to force rail workers to accept a new contract that does not include any paid sick leave.

Mr Biden has said that those workers will get sick leave “as soon as I can convince our Republicans to see the light” and pass a national policy granting sick leave, but Democrats have talked for years about advancing such a comprehensive policy and have made no progress.

The lack of paid time off in the US has serious effects on workers’ mental health. Research has shown that vacations can significantly increase worker productivity, while a lack of time off can lead to burnout, depression and workers having to work through illness and major life events.

Workers in countries beyond the US tend to have things better. Iran offers a leading 27 paid public holidays and 26 paid vacation days, whlie a number of European and African countries offer more than 30 days of paid vacation. The United Kingdom offers 28 days of paid vacation, while the South American countries all offer at least 20 days to the US’ ten.

The difference is even more extreme when it comes to paid leave. Not a single country in Africa, Asia, Europe, or South America offers no federally-guaranteed paid leave to their workers like the US does.

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