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US Law on Vacation Pay Among Lowest in World

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

If you ever wonder what the U.S. law on vacation pay is, it's actually quite simple. There is none. The U.S. is one of the few top countries in the world that guarantees employees no paid vacation time.

For most Americans, even if a company offers paid vacations - we do not often take them. Only about 57% of U.S. workers use all the vacation time they are given, according to a poll by Reuters/Ipisos as reported by CNN.

Compare that figure to the 89% of French employees who take their full vacations, according to the same poll. Are Americans just work-hungry? Or should there be a new policy that would implement mandatory paid vacations?

There is indication that Americans tend to derive more joy out of working than we'd like to admit. A study showed that Americans tend to maximize happiness through working - probably because we tend to agree with the idea that success necessitates hard work, says a study by the Journal of Happiness Studies.

In the past, some members of congress have attempted to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law, to mandate that employers must give employees one week of paid vacation. The Paid Vacation act of 2009 was introduced, but never became law.

Of course, many employers offer paid vacations despite there being no federal mandate. After all, offering paid vacations is an incentive and can attract talented employees and retain key players. Though, in Germany, a 6 week paid vacation is normal. In America, the average is closer to around 2-3 weeks, according to CNN.

However, there are still about 1/4 of Americans that have no paid vacation time at all, reports CNN.

Whether or not the government should step in to create a new law on vacation pay is still up for debate. For now, paid vacations still remain a luxury to some - and an unattainable luxury at that. Many Americans say that even if they take a vacation, they still feel obligated to do some work functions like check e-mail.

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