Quotes that Say Something

"Please, dad, get down and look. I think there's some kind of monster under my bed."

Life when seen in close-up often seems tragic, but in wide-angle it often seems comic. -- Charlie Chaplin

"And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear, you shout, but no one's there to hear. And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon." -- Roger Waters, "Brain Damage"

Apr 16, 2014

Precious Vacation Days: Where Do They Go?

          Here is a brief but interesting commentary that I found and enjoyed today.Talk about eye-opening.

          It is associated with a special report, broadcast during early April, on the NBC morning program called TODAY. It's mainly about how Americans use -- or don't use -- the paid vacation time that they have coming to them.

          Once again I confess that I wish I'd said these cogent things (see below) first. But no way -- I don't think much about or research America's hinky workforce matters and labor trends. And I do mean that I consider some of the facts about paid vacations for Americans pretty "hinky" at best.

          Personally speaking, I am proud to report that I used almost all of my vacation time (one month of work days + two personal days) during calendar year 2013, except for three days that I decided to keep in my bankable reserve of paid vacation hours once last December had come along. I used all of my days in 2011 and 2012, no problem, and then some.

          As the years have gone by, I have embraced my paid vacation opportunities (read: speedily fled from the office and my co-workers) with increasing relish. Some of this, I believe, I was ingrained in me by nurture not nature. My parents were professionals who worked outside the home from the earliest days of my life. They labored consistently and effectively, they achieved, they were industrious, focused. and loyal . . . my dad was still working a challenging schedule when he passed away at age 89.

          But every time some vacation week or other off-the-job relaxation chance comes around, I feel thankful to my mom and dad. They embraced the tradition of taking time off, sought stress relief, relished vacation periods, and traveled to interesting places (for years in a tribe of hearty, older folks who followed the Cincinnati Reds baseball team by plane and by bus from Major League park to park). Their inclinations and their habit(s) rubbed off on me in many ways. I learned to love time off, no matter how interesting or dire things at school or at the office seemed to be. As an only child, just a naive kid, I got to see the world -- well, at least a lot of the prominent and life-giving places in the USA and Canada -- from a unique and privileged vantage point. So . . .

          Working, working, working without a proper balance of time away from the onus of the marketplace just doesn't add up for me. In fact, I've been wondering off and on, during recent mid-April days, about what to do with (i.e., how to use) those three bonus vacation days that I still have banked from my 2013 year. But, I doubt seriously that I will get to use them anytime soon. If only Uncle Sam had been a little kinder regarding my recent 1040 return, I might actually have a few bucks to go enjoy some place of interest.

          For the moment:  TGIF, everyone. Take care. --  Butch Ekstrom

          Now let's get to that NBC TODAY feature:

Americans As Workaholics? Take Your Time, No Rush
April 3, 2014

More proof that Americans are workaholics: Even when we get paid vacation, many of us don't take it!

A new new survey of ordinary American workers finds that only 25 percent of employees (!) with paid time off took all of their vacation days last year.

What’s worse, 15 percent took none of their vacation days at all. The rest took some portion of the days they were allotted, according to the data released Thursday by employment website Glassdoor.

Now, get this. Even when employees took vacation, many ended up working. More than half of the employees who took vacation said they did some work while they were supposed to be off, according to the Glassdoor.This is based on a Harris Poll of about 2,000 adults, including about 1,000 full- and part-time employees who were included in the questions about vacation. These findings are in keeping with other research showing that Americans are likely to leave at least some of their vacation on the table, even when they are granted it.

Of course, not all Americans receive the option of a paid vacation. The Glassdoor survey found that 78 percent of employees surveyed receive vacation or paid time off, while the remaining 22 percent reported not getting any paid vacation or time off.

Let's just say that the United States workforce is an outlier when it comes to vacation. The Center for Economic & Policy Research, a left-leaning think tank, indicates that the United States is the only highly developed nation that doesn’t require employers to offer paid vacation time. Only 77 percent of U.S. workers get paid vacation time, and on average those workers receive 13 days of paid time off a year.

That’s in sharp contrast to countries including France, the United Kingdom and Germany, where workers have the right to more than three weeks of paid vacation annually.

But you don’t necessarily have to move to Europe to get that kind of perk — a select few companies in the U.S. buck the overall trend and offer their employees unlimited vacation time.

Allison Linn is a reporter at CNBC.


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