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Paid Vacation Laws: No Legal Right to Time Off

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Compared to the rest of the world, Americans generally receive a pitifully low amount of paid vacation. Americans seem to want to live a life of work, based on our lack of paid vacation laws as well as the number of vacation time off the average American employee gets.

This can come as a surprise for foreign employers - after all, Americans generally get only two to three weeks of paid vacation time off, whereas our European counterparts can get up to 6 weeks of paid vacation time a year. And, unlike us, they actually take their full vacations.

Furthermore, U.S. employers are not mandated by federal law to give their employees vacation time. But, would it be a good idea?

There are no paid vacation laws or federal statutes that mandate employees get a set amount of time off. However, many employers feel that by giving incentives, such as paid vacations, they can attract better employees and can retain key players.

After all, if your business is offering only one week of vacation, but your nearest competitor offers three, you may soon see your workforce slowly dwindling in numbers.

Offering vacation options for your employees can also increase employee happiness and productivity. Most Americans find it difficult to take vacations because they feel that the work will just build up while they are not there. Either that, or they fully expect that they need to be carrying on some work functions while on vacation, like checking and responding to e-mails, according to CNN.

However, despite the benefits of providing paid vacation for employees, about one in four employed Americans has no paid vacation and no paid holidays. The average in the U.S. is around 9 days of paid vacation and about 6 paid holidays a year.

According to a study, Americans tend to get more enjoyment out of working, reports CNN. But for employers, having a happy, relaxed employee may mean carving out some vacation time off and creating their own kind of "paid vacation law" to make up for the lack of federally mandated paid vacations.

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