Paid vacation isn't a given in America

Unlike other developed countries, U.S. doesn't mandate it

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Vacation days

Vacation days (Sam Diephuis, Blend Images/via Getty Images)

Speaking of vacation days.

Weren't we? Well, we're speaking of things employers do and don't have to fund. (Hi there, Hobby Lobby.) And I just returned from a week off. Put the two together and you'll see why I'm wondering: How much paid vacation time does the average American receive?

Not enough. In some cases, not any.

Out of 21 developed countries, the United States is the only one that doesn't require employers to provide paid vacation time to full-time employees, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Many countries, including Australia, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Greece and Switzerland, require employers to offer a minimum of four weeks paid leave for those who work five days a week.

A full 23 percent of Americans who work full-time and 65 percent who work part-time receive no paid vacation time, according to the report. Add in the fact that the U.S. also fails to mandate a single paid holiday — while the other 20 countries offer at least six paid holidays per year — and you start to feel a little cranky.

Many employers, of course, offer their workers paid time off without legal prodding. Thirty-eight percent of private industry workers who worked full-time for their employer at least one year received between five and nine paid vacation days in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thirty-five percent received between 10 and 14 paid vacation days.

After five years of service, 36 percent of private industry full-time workers received 10 to 14 paid vacation days in 2012, according to the Labor Bureau, while 34 percent received between 15 and 19 days.

Still not much. So despite what your friends' envy-inducing Facebook pages imply, we are not a nation swimming in leisure time.

Nor are we a nation that requires employers to look out for the health and well-being of their employees. Just ask the fine folks at Hobby Lobby.

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13

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