Summer has arrived and with it, our most popular vacation season. Nevertheless, a surprisingly large number of American workers, whether full-time employees who receive benefits, business owners, or other self-employed professionals, will not take time off to relax and get away this year, in summer or any other season.
There are many of us who apparently feel that stepping away from work responsibilities now and again signals a lack of discipline or commitment to our jobs. Many of us brag about the number of hours we work each day and more is always better. Could it be the legacy of the Puritan work ethic?
Furthermore, U.S. companies on the whole are stingy about granting paid time off, as compared to their counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Latin America. Even in Great Britain, birthplace of the hard-working, pleasure-avoiding Puritans, employers large and small traditionally grant to their full-time employees three paid holidays at Christmas, while U.S. companies typically grant only one paid holiday.
Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, but in predominantly Christian America, there is no paid holiday for Easter. In contrast, paid holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday are standard in Latin America, New Zealand, Australia and European Union member countries.
The Center For Economic and Policy Research reports that 25% of U.S. workers receive no paid time off of any kind—sick time, holiday, or vacation time. An increasing number of companies that employ primarily low-wage workers restrict the number of hours that their employees receive, to keep benefits out of reach for as many as possible.