Night-time, rainy beach adventure!
Countries in the European Union are now required to provide sick leave to employees completely separate from vacation time, to the extent that employees can reschedule vacation time if it coincides with illness.
Meanwhile, Americans are given no right to paid vacation OR paid medical leave (only 54.9% qualify for the unpaid leave that the Family Medical Leave Act provides), under the ruse that paid vacation or sick leave would lead to sloth and a decline in productivity, WHICH IT TURNS OUT IS JUST DEAD WRONG. Who knew?
When it comes to paid maternity leave, the U.S. is one of four countries, out of 173 studied, that fails to provide paid maternity leave. The other three are Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.
in the U.S., only 36 percent of part-time workers are “given” any paid vacation at all, and only 37 percent receive any paid holidays. So when you combine full-time and part-time workers in America, on average we receive only nine days of paid annual leave (vacation/sick days) and six paid holidays. That’s downright pathetic.
But wait, isn’t all that extra vacation wrecking Europe?Last fall, the chairman of the China’s sovereign wealth fund, Jin Liqun, tied Europe’s economic troubles to its “sloth-inducing, indolence-inducing labor laws.” Earlier this year, Mitt Romney warned that European-style benefits would “poison the very spirit of America.” And British-born Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has written that in contrast to Americans’ Protestant work ethic, Europeans have an “atheist sloth ethic.”Unfortunately, these illustrious personages are letting their conservative ideologies blind them to the basic facts: Germans have much more paid time off than do the Greeks and their economy is doing much better than ours – as well as the rest of Europe’s.
Clearly, corporations have more than enough money to provide us with the same vacation plans as they do workers in Europe. But they would rather “let the market decide” – which is French for setting up and taking advantage of a downward spiral in wages and benefits. It’s not a coincidence that defined pension funds in the U.S. are becoming extinct (but not so in Europe). It’s not a coincidence that median family wages are declining. It’s not a coincidence that public and private sector workers are being pitted against each other as the downward spiral accelerates. It’s not a coincidence that working people in this country are being asked to sacrifice in order to pay for the damage that financial elites have done to our economy.
In Europe workers are not fighting each other. Rather they are standing in the way of any and all efforts aimed at eliminating their cherished benefits – benefits that go to union and non-union members alike. Even the austerity-minded German political leadership dare not touch those cherished vacations.
So next time you get some time off, think about what it might be like to have paid maternity and paternity leave or have a couple of months vacation at full pay (and, of course, full protection against illness while on vacation) … and then maybe think about how we might join together to fight for these very basic human rights that nearly the entire human race, except us, enjoys.