In a bipartisan effort, a group of lawmakers in the United States has initiated a study to examine the state of paid time off (PTO) in the country, which ranks as the second-worst nation for paid vacation days.
Highlighting the absence of national paid leave in the United States, Senator Kristen Gillibrand, who is leading this endeavor, emphasized the negative impact on families, health, and the economy.
Unlike other developed nations, the United States does not have statutory paid leave. While the average American employee receives 14 days of PTO after the first year with a company, the provision of paid leave is at the employer’s discretion, as identified by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Workers in the European Union are guaranteed a minimum of 20 working days of paid vacation annually.
A Morning Consult survey revealed that 66 percent of U.S. workers desire extended vacation policies in their workplace. A November poll conducted by job search company Monster discovered that over six in 10 Americans acknowledge working while on their days off, especially during the holiday season. Additionally, more than a third of respondents report checking their work emails daily, even when their office is closed or on vacation.
Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a co-signer of the letter, emphasized the positive impact of paid leave on creating a healthier and more engaged workforce, supporting business growth and stability, and contributing to the overall prosperity of the American economy.
Considering that stress levels in the United States are already high, with over a quarter of adults reporting being unable to function due to stress, the availability of paid time off becomes critical. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association (APA), more than 80 percent of respondents attribute their stress to inflation.
During the holiday season, nearly 90 percent of individuals surveyed in another APA poll express feeling overwhelmed by financial constraints and missing loved ones. These factors can be influenced by their access to paid time off.
Earlier this year, Democrats proposed twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave as part of their spending plan, but it was subsequently reduced to four weeks in June. In comparison, federal workers in the United States are entitled to twelve weeks of maternity leave, while at least nine states and the District of Columbia offer more than four weeks.
Globally, the average paid maternity leave is twenty-nine weeks, with an average of sixteen weeks for paid paternity leave, according to data from the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA.