Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Workers in Brazil, Lithuania receive most vacation days

In the October 14, 2009 CNNMoney article "Workers in Brazil, Lithuania receive most vacation days," Jessica Dickler reports a wide disparity in leisure around the world. Gross domestic product (GDP), the most common measure of economic prosperity and the standard of living, does not account for how leisure contributes to happiness, fulfillment, and the quality of life.
Here's one reason to move to Lithuania: Eight weeks of time off.

Workers in the Baltic state tied with Brazil for the most days off in the world: a whopping 41 a year, according to a report released Wednesday by global consulting firm Mercer.

"People take a lot of time, especially in the summer, because a lot of them own places outside the cities, in villages and by the sea," said Dina Kopilevic, a Lithuanian citizen working for the consulate in New York. "We take it for granted, probably."

In Lithuania, the minimum annual leave is 28 days plus 13 public holidays. Brazil has a statutory minimum of 30 vacation days plus 11 public holidays.

Ade Umhey is from Belo Horizonte, a city in southeastern Brazil, but is working temporarily in upstate New York. She said that in her country, there's a real appreciation for time spent outside of work.

"Being with family and friends is important," she explained. "You spend weekends dancing, going to clubs and barbecuing." Workers also take extended vacations at the beach or to other parts of the country, she said.

"It's a healthier attitude, because even though you don't work as long, you do work hard and then you get great time off."

Employees in Finland, France and Russia post a close second in time off, thanks to 40 vacation days and holidays.

Meanwhile, U.S. workers receive 25 days total. Although vacation policies vary widely, according to Mercer, many businesses in the U.S. give employees only 15 days, or three weeks of vacation, plus 10 holidays a year.

Employees in Singapore also get 25 days, while Chinese employees get 21 and Canadian employees only get 19. Excluding public holidays, workers in Canada and China each get just 10 days, the lowest allotment of any countries in Mercer's study.

Anthony Brown, a Canadian citizen who currently works in New York, argued that the lack of time off there is mitigated by other pluses. "The social benefits, including both welfare and unemployment benefits, should be factored in," he said. "Maybe there are fewer days but in reality you get paid a lot more for doing a lot less."

In addition to annual leave and public holidays, employers in some countries are also required by law to give additional leave for special circumstances such as getting married, having a baby or bereavement.

The Mercer report was based on mandatory vacation time for an employee working five days a week after 10 years service

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