Does It Matter That American Workers Get So Little “Official” Time Off?

123RF Stock Photo123RF Stock Photo

You know this to be true: American workers are among the most productive in the world, even if the the growth in U.S. productivity slowed somewhat at the end of last year.

Some of that slowdown was due to the simple fact that productivity growth simply couldn’t keep up the same pace it was at during the worst of the Great Recession, when workers were scrambling to do whatever they could to keep employed. Another factor is that yes, unemployment is easing a bit and people are getting hired again, so there is a little lag in any boosts in productivity from that.

But one thing is also very true when you start getting into workers and productivity: Americans get a lot fewer holidays and other days off than do other workers in other countries. 

Europeans get the most paid holidays

I was reminded of this while looking at this new informational graphic from Mercer, the global HR consultants, titled “Who Gets the Most Time Off by Law? It’s the graphic manifestation of data from Mercer’s Worldwide Benefit & Employee Guidelines, and this graphic details the amount of paid time off mandated by law in various countries around the world.

It points out  what you probably already know: that “workers in Western Europe, on average, have the greatest amount of statutory paid holiday, while employees in Asia Pacific have the lowest levels of statutory paid holiday.” It adds, however, that “holiday entitlement is often more complex since actual holiday provision often depends on local practices, company contracts and the number and treatment of public holidays.”

You probably will also not be surprised to see where the U.S. ranks on this list, because when it comes to “statutory” holidays, Americans get zip.

Still, it’s an interesting informational graphic that helps increase the understanding that giving employees a fair number of days off — and the chance at some work-life balance — is a good thing no matter where in the world you live.

So, take a look and see what you think.