European workers have more time to relax

Americans have less vacation and need to learn to leave work behind

As far as Europeans are concerned, North Americans not only don’t take nearly enough vacation time, they don’t know to relax when they do take time off.

The minimum paid vacation time in the 15 European Union countries is four weeks a year. Add public holidays and this figure can rise to 43 days. The average European worker has 36 days off a year.

American workers, on the other hand, are lucky to get 10 days off as vacation, plus another eight to 10 days a year as public holidays. Research conducted by the Families and Work Institute in the U.S. shows that many American workers don’t even take all their allotted vacation time.

And when they do take time off, many workers are still connected to the office by e-mail and phone.

Europeans tend to take longer vacations (usually three weeks) and leave work behind. They regard their vacation as a time for rejuvenation.

Compare the following countries’ vacation policies to that of North American companies:

•Republic of Ireland: 29 days’ minimum vacation and public holidays;

•Britain and Belgium: 31 days; and

•France: employees who work more than 35 hours a week accrue time off with pay.

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