Monday, April 20, 2009

Off to the beach…

Last week the NZ Herald ran a story on annual leave entitlements in NZ and in other countries.Beach I went digging and found some more information on the OECD situation in a 2007 European Economic and Employment Policy Brief. 

The minimum annual leave entitlement in NZ is 4 weeks a year. This can be negotiated up (just as I presume it can be in most other OECD countries). We have another 7 paid public holidays per year plus up to another 4 days depending on which day they fall on that year. Somehow it still doesn't seem like anywhere near enough.  We also have paid sick leave provisions – about 10 days a year is average I believe.

Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Italy and the UK all appear to have a 4 week minimum much like NZ. This seems to be around the standard.

In France the minimum legal entitlement is 6 weeks but this increases if you work more than the legal 35 hours per week. 35 hours? Yes you read right, that’s all you’re supposed to work each week in France. If you work 40+ hours a week you could end up with up to 7 weeks of annual leave a year.  The Scandinavians have a 5 week minimum. 

The big difference seems to be the cumulative total of annual leave days plus statutory paid holidays and on this scale, NZ and Australia fall below mid point in the range. European Economic & Employment Policy BriefAt the other end of the scale I was surprised to find there is no legal minimum of paid annual leave or public holidays in the United States.  I am guessing that even super human Americans need a holiday periodically so I assume it is just managed in a different way. I am interested to know how it works there if anyone can be bothered sharing.


  1. America has really bad paid vacation. I get around 3 weeks a year. I think its 4 extra days for bank holidays. The 3 weeks includes sick days.
    When I lived in England I got 5 weeks holiday, 4 bank holidays, 6 months sick and extra time at Christmas. I miss all my paid time off!!!!!

  2. In the US. it all depends on your employer. I work for a Fortune 50 firm, where - after 9 years of employment - I receive three weeks paid leave - 3-4 "personal choice" days, depending on how many bank holidays we have in a given year. In another year, I will receive an extra week of paid leave.

    This is very generous comparatively - most full-time jobs below a certain income level routinely offer only two weeks paid leave a year. Most non-full-time employees (service sector, food, retail) receive nothing unless it's a union position.

    All things considered, I'd rather be in Europe :)

  3. I get 5 weeks paid vacation (I've been at my job for 23 years), plus we get 11 paid holidays. We do NOT get any sick days, so we have to use vacation days for that. I work 40 hrs./wk. I have trouble using up all my off time. lol. Hugs.

  4. I currently get 3 weeks, 9 standard holiday days off, plus 4 optional holidays, plus... well pretty unlimited sick leave. Only regulation on sick days is if it is more than 2 consecutive weeks then you need doctor's approval for a short term medical leave or you won't get paid.

    I am pretty satisifed with our program. I am very thankful for our sick policy. Unfortunatly my health of late. I try to work from home or go into the office anyway unless I can absolutely not take it. But if we had a different policy I'd end up needing to use vacation days as sick days.

  5. The company where I am has a very lax attitude where it comes to sick leave, for instance there is a guy in my department who was off over six months sick last year at various times of the year and got full paid sick. Whereas I never took no days off and received the same pay for coming in every day if I'm sick or not, there is no justice in this world!

  6. Bagpuss I can imagine - 3 weeks paid annual isn't much. In my current job I have negotiated 32 days annual, 11 public holidays plus unspecified sick leave - this means that as long as I really am sick, I will keep getting paid until it reached a point where we'd talk about medical retirement.

    DuPree - lucky you but I pity those poor buggers who have to take a job with only 2 weeks (or less) paid leave a year - that's freakin' Victorian! How do people cope?

    Xanadu - why do you have trouble using it up? Do they give you the entitlement but not offer the support to enable you to actually use it such as back filling or temporary support to cover you while you're off? If that's the case then it's just lip service and that sucks. Or do you just love your job so much that you can't stand being away from it haha?

    K that does pretty fair but only 3 weeks a year annual isn't much - I guess we take what we can get basically.

    Mr Stu - how sad that this other guy obviously has some fairly major health issues - that isn't fair, you're right. Or are you saying he was malingering? In that case I'd have something to say about it to the powers that be - a business can't run effectively or efficiently with slackers like that on the books.

  7. The United States government does not have a minimum. In other words, employers can choose to give you absolutely no vacation time if they want to.

  8. Cartguy - that blows me away! And I won't give myself a prize for working out that it's those without a strong voice who get shitted on because they need to take whatever job they can get to put food on the table.

  9. Lets just say he was a bit shy of work and still is, but the bosses seem to be blinkered whatever you say.

  10. Lou: Want to know what's really messed up? I never knew anything else. In my political science graduate courses we have students from Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey and we all got to talking about this very subject you brought up (not more than two weeks ago, I might add).

    All of the Americans in class were shocked other nations have set minimum vacation times! Our jaws dropped when we heard the student from Germany say Germany has a national requirement of at least four weeks of vacation, and the jaws of all the kids from Europe dropped when they heard we didn't have a federal requirement at all.

  11. Yeah I must admit it's taken me aback too that you guys have no minimum protection for workers. It seems so very wrong that those with the least where-with-all to negotiate a good contract are the ones left to fend for themselves. So harsh. What about a minimum pay rate - is that legislated?

  12. Lou: The fact Americans take hardly any vacations more than likely is why America has one of the lowest (if not the lowest) average lifespans in the Western world. We work ourselves to death, we have too much stress, and because we're constantly working there's little time for quality, healthy meals, which would also explain America's obesity problem.

    There is a minimum wage in America. I believe it's $7 an hour, though I could be wrong. And it was just raised to around $7 an hour. For a long time it was $5.50 an hour. Either way, you really can't make a living off of it.

  13. OK our minimum wage is comparable, ours is NZ$12.50 which is just over US$7 right now - you're right it sure wouldn't be easy to live on.

    Is there any activism going on about minimum paid vacation time? Is that a central govt thing or would those decisions be made state by state? (we have no state govt here so I have no clue)?

    I can't believe how badly that would suck. I have 43 paid holidays + sick days + another 10 'dependant' sick leave (for when kids are sick) every year. Most years I hardly use any sick/dependant but I certainly use all other leave!

  14. Lou: I'm sure there are movements to try and get more vacation time but none of them have enough force to be significant. If anything it's the exact opposite right now. The economy is doing so poorly that most Americans are willing to concede a lot (pay cuts, hours) in order to keep their job.

    The cool thing about school is I've had a chance to really learn about other governments and how they function, and I've walked away with a lot of criticisms to the American model. It definitely has some strong points but it has some glaring weaknesses too. And I would put the American view of vacation as one of the worst. Life is way too short and we work ourselves to death over here. I New Zealand, Australia, and Europe have a much better perspective on vacation times.

  15. Oh, the state thing. I forgot to mention that. Typically our government works this...take minimum wage, for example. The federal government may pass a law saying that the minimum wage in America is now $7 an hour. By passing a federal law, all states would have to comply. However, states are within their rate to make the pay rate higher than that if they choose. Michigan could say, "We don't think that's high enough and we're going to make it $9 an hour." States are well within their rights to do that - they just can't go below the federal level of $7.

    The same would apply to vacation time. If the United States government passed a minimum of four weeks vacation all states would have to follow suit, though all have the right to make it higher than four weeks.

    The only exception is this: even though there is no current federal minimum, a state can enact legislation on its own. Michigan could pass a four week minimum on its own that would only apply to companies in the State of Michigan.

  16. I agree is highly problematic time right now. Thanks or the discussion cartguy.


Make my day and leave a comment. C'mon you can do it.