Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From Australia a valuable reminder

About the need to balance work and life while they do have substantial paid holidays. Time to activate paid vacation acts at the state level?

(Washington, DC) – In a bold and historic move to help rejuvenate the American economy, Congressman Alan Grayson introduced the Paid Vacation Act of 2009 today.  The bill will dramatically improve productivity at American companies and provide a much-needed spark for the U.S. travel and tourism industries.
Congressman Grayson said, “Why are paid vacations good enough for the Chinese, French, Japanese, and German employees, but not good enough for us?  In other countries, it’s a matter of right. Everyone is entitled to it.  In our country, it is a matter of class.   Over time we are coming to realize that whatever your background, wherever you grew up, wherever you live, there are certain basic elements that people need to have enjoyable lives.  They need health care. They need a decent paying job.  And for a good life, they need time off.” 
The Paid Vacation Act will require at least one week of paid vacation for employees at companies with at least 100 employees.  Full- and part-time (25 hours per week/1250 hours per year) workers will be eligible after one year of service.
Three years after enactment, companies with at least 50 employees would be required to offer at least one week of paid vacation, and companies with at least 100 employees would be required to offer at least two weeks of paid vacation.
John De Graaf from “Take Back Your Time” points to a recent story in FORBES Magazine.  It showed that the U.S. is not even among the top ten countries in the world in terms of happiness. “Those higher-ranked countries emphasize a work-life balance, including ample vacation time. Many of those same countries are weathering the current world economic storm better than we are.  Vacations make people happier and economies stronger,” he said.
A poll, conducted last year by the Opinion Research Corporation, found that 29 percent of American workers got no paid vacation at all last year, and half received less than a week off. 
The Paid Vacation Act of 2009 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which means enforcement will be handled by the Department of Labor and U.S. Attorney’s Office, just like all federal wage and hour laws in the country.  
How the United States of America compares:
·         The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a minimum annual leave statute.
·         At least 147 countries have a paid vacation law, including all developed countries.
·         In 1980 Americans ranked 11th in the world in life expectancy.  We are now 42nd.
·         Americans are twice as likely as Europeans to suffer from anxiety and depression, and many experts believe these deficits are caused by lack of time.
·         Every European worker gets at least four weeks of paid vacation by law, yet the Euro is rising while the dollar is falling.
Americans are taking fewer (and shorter) vacations:
·         PEW Research Center says "more free time" is the number one priority for middle-class Americans—68% listed this as a high priority for them.
·         Last year only 14% of American workers took two weeks or more for vacation (Conference Board Study, 2008).
·         The average American works one month (160 hours) more today than in 1976 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). 
·         Last year about half (52%) of American workers took a vacation of a week or less (Opinion Research Corporation, 2008).
·         28% of Americans receive no paid vacation. Only 69% of lower-wage workers get any paid vacation leave (Opinion Research Corporation, 2008).
·         37% of American women earning less than $40,000 a year receive no paid annual leave (AFL-CIO, 2005).
·         Men who do not take regular vacations are 32% more likely to die of heart attacks, and 21% more likely to die early of all causes.  Women have 50% more risk of heart attack (Dr. Brooks Gump, SUNY Oswego, 2000).
·         Stress and burnout are five times more costly to treat than average workplace maladies. 
·         Women who do not take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do (Cathy McCarty, Marshfield Clinic, 2006).
Business Development:
·         Stress and burnout at work cost the U.S. economy more than $344 billion a year (Middle Tennessee State University, 2003).
·         Vacations can result in an 82% increase in performance (Mark Rosekind, Alertness Solutions).
·         Vacations of at least two weeks eliminate burnout (Hobfoll, Shirom, 1993).  
·         The travel industry adds $740 billion dollars a year to the U.S. economy (U.S. Travel Association).
·         People have a 60% increase in productivity in the month or two after a vacation (Wallace Huffman, Iowa State University).
·         Paid vacation, after health care, is the benefit most appreciated by workers (AFL-CIO, 2005).
·         Workers sleep better after taking vacations and are 30-40% more alert on the job when they return (Air New Zealand).
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich
U.S. Tour Operators Association (800 member companies)
Adventure Travel Trade Association (1000 member organizations)
Green America (Washington, D.C.)
Rick Steves, the world's best selling travel writer and PBS TV host 
Fran Mainella, Former Director, National Park Service

Center For A New American Dream (Maryland)
MomsRising.org (Washington D.C.)
NRG Seattle Insurance Company (Washington)
Russell Walters, Northern Outdoors (Maine)
Brian Morgan, Adventure Life (Montana)
Go South Adventures (Washington)
Todd Jurkowski, Press Secretary
Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-08)
202.503.5964 (cell)
407.841.1757 (office)
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