Can North Americans really get a four week vacation?

Do you think it's not possible? Some of you may know how to pull this off without getting let go but for those that don't here's how it works. If your vacation time is based on a your start or hire date rather than a calendar date it's possible. Take the last two weeks before your vacation time runs out and the first two weeks when your time becomes available. Butt them together and Ta-da! Four weeks of vacation. One of my co-workers did this and our company didn't say a thing. She went to Poland for a month. It's worth a try all they can do is say no.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

Retired SSA Specialist. Federal workers get: First 3 years - 4 hours annual leave earned every 80 regular hours worked (for almost all, that's one pay period) 3-15 years -6 hours per 80, and an extra 4 in final pay of year. 15+ years -8 hours per 80. Yo.u may not accrue more than 240 hours going in to the next leave year (first pay beginning in new calendar year). If so, they are lost. Leave requests due on 6 month intervals, and by Mar 1 for April-September, and Sept 1 for Oct-March. Leave allotted by seniority if more people have made requests than are allowed off for staffing. This makes it very difficult to plan ahead, as end of year requests run in to a large number of long time employees with seniority who always have use-or-lose leave to burn. Depending on your boss, it can be hard to convince them that they have to grant you the time off because you had to make a reservation far in advance (been there, done that, as we were always on standard school schedules). Even managers who want to be decent about this can't because they have section and branch managers over them who need to throw their weight around. If there are no staffing issues, you would have to get special permission to take off longer than 3 weeks. This requires several layers of approval by management.
Incidentally, for those furloughed workers, they are also losing some leave as they are not working 80 hours per pay. And back in the 1995 shutdown, my agency was deemed "essential" which meant that no one could take any leave, no matter what (There were ways around that)

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

You could work it the way the OP suggests even of your vacation is based on calendar year, in theory. But it all boils down to what your company allows. In my former working life, we had strict regulations about who could take what, and when they could go. All time off for the year had to be requested by the end of Jan. so that seniority rules could be followed as requests were filled (ot not). And certain production issues made it impossible for anyone to leave at some times of the year.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Yes, it's possible..especially for teachers who have summers off. I believe Federal folks also accrue a month after 3 years (not bad!). Feds stationed overseas (like State Department folks, have R & R breaks that add up to quite a lot of time off). In the private sector, there are companies where you can certainly accrue that much, especially after 10 years of being there...there are also some that have "sabatticals" (yes, private companies - not universities). The key is you have to be a long-timer there and fairly autonomous, not the CEO or CFO obviously, and have a culture where it's acceptable to both request and take off that long (and delegate your responsibilities successfully to someone else). We had some folks from India, for example, who traveled very far to see their families once a year and they stayed for at least 3 weeks if not a bit more (and saved up vacation to do so). We could also "borrow" time from the coming year prior to accrual.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4868 posts

As a local government employee we top out at 5 weeks a year after 15 years. We can roll over our time and accrue 400 hours before we get to the use or lose point. Technically if someone did this they could take 10 weeks off. Getting that approved might be another thing. My husband is a firefighter and works ten 24 hour shift per month. He's not allowed to take more than a month off.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

Part of the problem is actually accumulating the time, but an even bigger problem can be taking it once you're accumulated it. My wife and I are both now self-employed, so we can create our own vacation time, but previously she worked for a large company. At one point she had accumulated over 4 weeks of time because she was so busy she couldn't take a vacation. When she then took 4 weeks to go to France, some people were amazed she actually could do it. As if the company couldn't survive without her. After she got back, her boss decided maybe he wasn't indispensable either, and also took a long vacation. But some companies probably don't let you accumulate time, and others probably just wouldn't let someone go for that long.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

Can North Americans get a four week vacation? Yes. Canadians.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Depends entirely on your company, your office, your job your boss, etc. I have managed to take off as much as 8 weeks - paid - in one shot, although that's not typical (nor easy to pull off). In my workplace, we generally get 4-5 weeks of paid vacation a year (although there are both formal and some unwritten rules about when you must/can not take it). I recognize that it's a generous policy and is not typical. If you take it all at once, you may get the stinkeye after you get back (not so much from your boss, but from jealous co-workers). I'm taking 3 1/2 weeks off this fall (and looking forward to it!). I feel lucky (in many ways). Then again, when traveling I meet Scandinavians (with routine months-long vacations) that make me look like a piker. It's all relative.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1349 posts

I have been with my company for 30+ years, and I get 5 weeks of vacation each year. It's great. However, a lot of my work doesn't get done when I'm not there, so I can't take more than two weeks at a time (plus another day or two if I really stretch it), and I can't even do that the first month of each quarter. My husband is in a similar situation. In all the years that I have been there, I have only known one person to take more than two weeks off at a time. So Mike's plan wouldn't work for those with just two weeks vacation. But if you can make it work, go for it.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Amazing stuff! In most of Europe 20 days paid holidays is the minimum, although it would be very hard to get staff if you only offered the minimum, so most companies offer at least 25 days up to the 50th birthday and 30 days there after. Added to that are 10 or 12 paid public holidays, so most people have about 35 days per annum. There is often a requirement that you must take a break of at least two consecutive weeks per annum and it becomes a big health and safety issue for companies if they fail to ensure that their employees don't do this. The fines can be very high and of course the company leaves itself open to compensation claim by workers who have suffered from burn out etc...

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2371 posts

I too am one of those lucky ones that get 5 weeks a year, plus the time between Christmas and New Years. Add to that my Company is now trying to get accrued vacation off the books, and is changing policy to go from being able to carry over 5 weeks, to only 3 weeks...so I have 7 weeks to use this year. All sounds good, but as others have said, to take an extended vacation as a Manager in a manufacturing environment is very difficult. I did however for a number of years schedule and prepare for a 3-4 week vacation every other year. I basically implemented the concept of the sabbatical (Go, no emails, no cell phone, no work to take along) I really believe it is valuable and in the end, productive for my Company. It took prep to do and there was a pile of work when I got back, but it was great. Unfortunately, my wife took a different job and went from 4 weeks to initially one week then two, so that plan is on hold for now. So yes, it is possible (for some) and very beneficial (for all), but a devil to pull off.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Mike, The short answer to your question is YES, a four week (or more) vacation is certainly possible. This will vary between individuals and largely depends on the specifics of the job and benefits provided. In the position I formerly worked at, long term employees were provided with up to six weeks paid holiday. Even new employees (after about a year or so) were entitled to three weeks holiday. With some "creative shift scheduling", I was able to take two month vacations on occasion. Cheers!

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
434 posts

I currently get four weeks (20 days) of vacation a year and can carry over up to five days. Can I take it all at once? Yes... the supervisor might suggest that it wouldn't be great but in the end she wouldn't decline the request. The problem is that using all four weeks in one go makes for a very long year. I routinely take three of the four at once and scatter the rest between a bit at Christmas and a few long weekends. I suppose I'm lucky that I'm important enough to make a decent wage but not so important they can legitimately decline vacation requests. That middle ground has its advantages. At the risk of TMI... I am so excited that I am on course to get my fifth week of vacation entitlement a few months before we finish the mortgage!!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

but I think more Americans would be able to take more vacation time but feel stuck with taking less.. not sure why,, combo of pressure from employers to make you feel guilty if you want more time off, and not feeling their jobs are secure..
I feel bad when people post things like "trip of a lifetime , but can only get 10 days and want to see everything".. because its not fun to have to either cram everything in, or cut lots of your wish list down. I understand for younger folks or those who have only recently been employed they would have shorter vacation allowances , but I think it stinks for someone not to be able to have some time to really enjoy themselves when they have invested 15 , 20 years with a company! I think Australians are the luckiest of all, I think they have the most generous vacation allowances, but then, it does take them 2 days to get anywhere outside their own country , lol

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

As a reitred person I can say, "When you do what you do as long as I did what I did, then its your turn". Then you get all the vacation days you want, every day is like Saturday except Sunday, which is as it ought to be.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1054 posts

I get 4+ weeks vacation per year but don't take more than two weeks at a time. At the companies I have worked for, even taking two weeks is unusual, most people take only one week at a time. The issue is that the work doesn't stop when I'm gone. Companies have already reduced staffing to pretty much bare minimums so someone who is already overworked has to cover my work while I'm gone, so generally vacation requests of more than two weeks aren't approved. I'm sure this varies depending on what business/position one is in.

Posted by Jesse
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
171 posts

Not if your an accountant, or at least not at any of the companies I have worked for. Everyone has to be present during the close process. One company I worked for actually spelled it out in the policy that you could take no more than 2 weeks off at a time. I have never been able to take two weeks off with my schesdule, have had the vacation built but too many duties at work.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Canadians are entitled to 2 weeks a year for first 5 years of any job, then it goes to 3 weeks a year. Many in union or government jobs get more vacation time then that though. I can't speak for all Canadians, but I personally don't know anyone who hasn't been able to take their 2 or 3 weeks in a row, although some people who are entitled to more weeks are asked to break it up.
My ex husband had 6 weeks a year but was asked to only take 3 in a row unless he got clearance for longer period off, this was given to us a few times when we wanted longer holidays. When I was only 23 I got 4 weeks vacation ( had accrued two and two ) and added 8 weeks leave of absence when I wanted to travel Europe.. my job was neither union nor government. I think Canadians have an easier time then americans when it comes to getting generous holidays. What I do find unfair and unreasonable is when I hear about Americans who have worked for same company for many years and are still restricted to taking only one week at a time. I don't think many of us would put up with that for long. I think we consider vacation time a right and Americans consider it a privilidge.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

Yes. Canadians are more like Europeans who work to live unlike Americans who live to work.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Monte that's one way to look at it, but frankly that's a bit of Russian roulette. Many people put travel off "till later" and later never comes. Typical case I have never forgotten. A newly retired couple moved to our city to retire. They were from back east, Winnipeg( otherwise known as "winterpeg" to many of us because of long cold winters ) . All their lives they had looked forward to retiring here in the "garden city" of their dreams. They looked forward to golfing year round, gardening, biking etc. Within a month of settling down here the husband was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away about a year later, a long painful year. The wife was of course devasted,, all their lives they had dreamed of retiring here and enjoying another 15-25 years of life following their dreams.
She left and went back to Winnipeg to be with family now that she was a widow . I maintain people should live their dreams as best as they can now, never count of being able to put things off... no one is guaranteed tomorrow. If a younger couple (younger as in before retirement age) wants to travel I think they should take and make as many opportunities for it to happen while they can. Also, even if no major disaster happens, energy levels and general health can decline that while you may now have the time and the money to travel for more then 2 weeks, you no longer can travel or travel as far away . So everyone,, get and take as much holiday time as you can , while you can, theres plenty of time to invest in new furniture , new cars, etc, but those won't be the things you miss one day.. the opportunities you miss will likely be more important . REVOLT against evil employers who are miserly with vacation time! lol

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Pat - I'm totally with you in spirit, but have to admit the American worker isn't exactly in the driver's seat right now to be able to threaten "revolt", especially if they don't want to be prematurely discarded (and left paying for an individual health care policy..ouch!). In my demographic, there are no pensions (for private sector employees) so one has to balance potentially living way longer than expected and making sure the money doesn't run out faster. I found the best time to take long vacations is in between jobs, it's almost zero guilt and gives you a lot of flexibility (a lot of folks my age job hop every few years).

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Yes. Canadians are more like Europeans who work to live unlike Americans who live to work. Hmmm, yes even the unemployed qualify for vacation over here - 5 days paid leave for ever 30 days on benefits!

Posted by Marcella
Hendersonville, TN
91 posts

I had to work for my company for 10 years to have 4 weeks vacation. I am now topped out. Next year I will be taking the most time I have ever done with 3 weeks. I normally take 2 weeks in the summer, a week at Fall Break with the kids and the rest for sundry days needed throughout the year. I think I would be too afraid to use all 4 at one time in case I needed any time for other things.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

There DOES seem to be a large disparity in holiday allowances between countries. Even Rick acknowledges this, as he has frequently remarked that "Americans get the shortest holidays of any country in the world" (quote might not be exact, but it covers the basic meaning). It seems a bit unreasonable to provide an employee with 3 or 4 weeks of holiday time, and then restrict how many days they can take at any one time. Hopefully that will improve.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
708 posts

I've been able to take anywhere from 18-23 days for our overseas trip. Working in retail, I had to work 7 yrs before I was entitled to 3 weeks off...and let me tell you, I was almost always gone over Thanksgiving weekend (here in Canada it's in Oct) and they didn't like it, but - it's not like I was a brain surgeon or anything - it was frickin retail. I left that job after 12 yrs and had found another (retail)...I was laid off after 16mos...but we still went ahead with our travel plans. I'm lucky in that my hubby has 4 weeks paid, and he is paid well, so we are still able to sock money away every pay for our holidays (not on ANY of our trips have we had huge credit card debt...or any cc debt for that matter). I always save money up for the monthly bills before we go so when I did get my vacation pay, it was strictly for vacation. And I agree with what Pat said about travelling while you can. We were visiting an elderly relative, and she had a friend visiting. This was after our 1st trip overseas. She said she (the elderly friend) and her husband had always wanted to travel but life was too busy and they waited and waited. Of course, not long after retiring, he passed away, and they never got to enjoy their dream of seeing the world together. I am still very jealous of my sister who moved to the UK and even tho she works part time at a grocery store, she still gets so much more vacation time.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Since this is about North Americans and nobody has chimed in about Mexico, I believe they are entitled to something like 6 days in year 1, 14 in year 5, and 2 more in each subsequent 5 years of service. Plus, I think they get bonus pay while on vacation (in addition to vacation pay). Even our neighbors to the south have a better deal. Despite my leftist views, there is a balance that needs to be struck with respect to having a productive economy and enjoying quality of life through tons of guaranteed vacation time. Guaranteed, long vacation time for all seems like a great thing, but there can be serious drawbacks because of it. And every country is unique/different...you can't really compare Norway to the U.S.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Hmm Michael, I think America has one of the least generous vacation allowances of most 1st world countries and yet, economically don't think America is really doing any better then most other 1st world countries, so not sure if your reasoning is sound or just defensive of the status quo..

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Except that the U.S. has the 4th best economy in terms of productivity and standard of living, so your facts are incorrect. By comparison, Canada is 6th and has risen only because other developed economies in Europe have sunk. You can research this stuff and verify it if you wish. My reasoning is quite sound. Also, I'm never for the status quo in anything. :)

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

Well, Michael, which are those three countries before us? My educated guess would be Norway, Switzerland and then? Singapore? Australia? New Zealand?
For example: from my Norwegian friends I know that they have high wages but also high taxes but if you add what here you pay for healthcare, daycare, college then it seems that they are better off and I am not still counting that they work fewer hours (vacation, more holiday days).

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Ilja - According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013.... This year's report findings show that Switzerland tops the overall rankings in The Global Competitiveness Report for the fourth consecutive year. Singapore remains in second position with Finland, in third position, overtaking Sweden 4th). These and other Northern and Western European countries dominate the top 10 with the Netherlands, Germany and United Kingdom respectively ranked 5th, 6th and 8th. The United States (7th), Hong Kong (9th) and Japan (10th) complete the top 10.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1054 posts

So who's complaining? On the contrary, I feel lucky to have the 4+ weeks vacation which is more than many have in the US. Do I wish my trips were longer? Of course I do, I'd love to stretch every trip by a few days. I still don't understand how companies handle extended vacations in other countries. Who does the work when everyone is off for a month or more at time?

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

I still don't understand how companies handle extended vacations in other countries. Who does the work when everyone is off for a month or more at time? Well here is the thing, if you are a team lead it reflects badly on you if your team can't function without you or if your team is too dependent on some of it's members. And this will be reflected in your job performance review! So it is important that you make sure you have a competent deputy and a well trained team. On the other hand long holidays are just part of life here. If someone is on holidays and the people available are not able to help you, then you just have to wait, such is life....

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Norway's system is great, but until it loses its state owned oil wealth, its homogeny, and gains about 300 million diverse people, don't compare it to the U.S.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Michael 7th is not 3rd, lol
And standard of living, sorry lets look that up, lets start with infant mortality rates.. James you are right, but don't tell everyone we don't want you all figuring it out and rushing for our borders...

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Michael - why is it not appropriate to compare Norway to certain states, as opposed to the US as a whole? There are states in the union that aren't diverse, that are largely rural, and even have oil (Alaska) - but they are not as competitive and don't have similar standard of living. The same argument comes up with Finland's education system - the comparisons are made to US as a whole (skewed by Texas, NY, and CA) when something can be learned by making a narrower comparison to New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, etc. I acknowledge that federal transfer payments make states different than a single country like Norway, but feel like wholesale comparisons to a large country like the US are also not adequate. @James - move away? How about to Switzerland? Will they let me in? I'm not complaining, btw - have 5 weeks of vacation on avg. @ Keith - gulag = Gitmo?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Keiths post is good and I really thought that the States was a democracy where if you don't like something you are FREE to dislike it, complain about it, and lobby for change.. Why are there people that say "love it or leave it"... does that mean the same as "my way or the highway?". Is that unity building or isolating and sad. Everyone should have true freedom to praise what they like about their countries and complain about what they don't llike, and just because I don't like something about my countries laws, or government does not mean I do not love my country, and I imagine that is the same for any nations peoples. Its ok to effect change and be a voice of dissention, if you believe change will benefit people, if you believe change is needed, if you believe in FREE SPEECH . Ra Ra USA Ra RA Canada
Ra Ra all democratic countries where people can live free . No one should ever have to leave their country because they disagree ..

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

I still don't understand how companies handle extended vacations in other countries. Who does the work when everyone is off for a month or more at time? Sometimes they do it through better planning. I've worked in I. T. / software development my whole career. Everyone who has worked in this field knows that there are particular times in the software development lifecycle where work is intense and overtime is common. I spent two years working in Sweden on a contract with a Swedish firm. In Sweden, five weeks of vacation is standard and your employer must let you take four weeks in the summer. The company that I worked for planned for this. There was a six week period starting at Midsommar where no software releases or development work was scheduled. Only the minimal work required for sustained operations took place and employees were encouraged to schedule their holiday during this time. It really worked well. I've often felt that the U.S. software industry could be more effective if they followed such a model and planned in some down periods where people were encouraged to take their vacations. It is so much more relaxing to be able to take your vacation and know that you won't return to a crisis.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Canada is pretty sweet, Pat. We should have annexed your country when we had the chance back in 1812. What were we thinking?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

..."when we had a chance".... ha ha ha,, now that is funny! Thank you , I will have to share that one today at lunch with friends !

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

" If you don't like your nation's laws, please move" People living in democracies usually say "if you don't like your nation's laws, please campaign/vote for a change". But, I admit, that Comrade James' approach of either doing what the government says or leaving would be easier (especially if the government has organised a gulag the objectors can move to).

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

@ Pat, The United States is not a democracy, we're a republic. Here's the difference, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums. A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. Some may say we're a representative democracy, times have changed what this really boils down to and as we've grown as a country. I could go on but want to make it short and simple. It all stems from the fact the founding fathers were altogether fearful of pure democracy. As our Pledge of Allegiance says, "and to the republic for which it stands"

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

Agnes - I had to look up "Gitmo". I can now understand why you might think I meant that when I wrote "gulag". But, honestly, I didn't and I wasn't making any political point. I was just having a bit of fun at James' expense and his Stalin-like "do what the government says or leave" comment. I know Comrade James is the least likely communist person here - and from his own reponse, I suspect he knows it too.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Agnes: For reference, Kenneth Bae was just convicted and is spending the next 15 years in one of North Korea's "special prisons" doing hard labor. That's a gulag. It's been all over the international news. Gitmo is where the U.S. is engaged in carrying out extra-judicial detentions. Adding to what Barry said about common misconceptions about our system, we're also not a system of majority rule. The whole point of our Constitution is to protect minority rights (thank god). Many, many,many Americans don't get this.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Thanks Barry didn't realize it was quite like that, I see that you do sometimes have referendums ( we are close to Wash and get their tv channels) so assumed you were more similar then dissimilar.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Michael - I misread the thread, which was written in jest...I replied in jest (not everything on this board should be interpreted literally unless someone's apparent ignorance is haughty or apt to demoralize others). I know what a gulag is vs. gitmo - wasn't trying to minimize or trivialize gulags. California definitely tried to function like a democracy with its countless referendums. The one governing Prop 13 was really, really ill advised.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

We are the "Great White North" , wasn't quoting the anthem...

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Scenario: Employee A hates the job and plans her vacation days off without thinking of or asking a subordinate about her own plans. Employee B has been planning her wedding/honeymoon but now must tell her fiancé and family/friends that the planned dates won't work because her boss won't let her have the time off. The rest of the staff quietly sides with Employee B, and they are all thinking/planning how to get revenge and/or how to find different jobs. Outcome: Everyone despises Employer A and a hostile work environment is born (if it didn't already exist). What has Employee A gained? A toxic work environment 11 months of the year, just to get off the one month she wanted. Raise your hand if you want to work there. The view from here would be, first come first served with the exception that if there were two competing unapproved requests for the same period and it was during school holidays then priority goes to parents, otherwise strictly first come first served. The attitude to employee A would be that they are full entitled to their holidays and should be able to take them whenever they want assuming their boss approved. Canceling approved holidays would cause serious problems for the manager and certainly earn A lot of sympathy from colleagues. As for B, they would be considered to be a very silly mutt if they went planning something as big as a wedding without first getting time off approved. They'd get very little sympathy from fellow workers, as clearly they did not put in their request in time. It certainly would not create a hostile work place, but then again the attitude of most people to the work place is different here.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

i get anywhere between 33-41 paid days off a year. 33 are set in stone. 24 vacation days 2 personal days 1 day for my birthday
6 sick days, which my manager now lets me schedule in advance like vacation time. we also either do or dont get summer fridays. its not official. but when we do, we each get to pick half the summers worth of fridays and we get the days off for free. i dont know if we are getting them this year. before i left for vacation (i am one day 23 of a 25 day trip to europe - hello from istanbul), they had asked us for the dates we wanted. im not sure if they were approved though since i obviously havent been there. i have seniority at my job so i get to pick anything i want. my assistant was told NO for taking off for her wedding because i already had the days booked. the company policy manual says one week at a time. i am currenty off april 26 - may 20 i return to work after this 25 night extravaganza on tuesday. on wednesday, i am leaving early to catch a fight to seattle. after another 5 days off, i return to work the following tuesday. the day after, i leave work early to fly to austin. i return to work from that five day weekend on tuesday. on wednesday...i work a full day but im off again for another four day weekend starting thursday. i always take a minimum of two weeks off in december. with the holidays, its usually about seven vacation days. when i dont have any come december (and i never do), i am able to take it without pay. this works fine with me because my christmas bonus (which is cash) covers the loss. so basically, i get two months off every year and can take whatever want whenever i want. its a pretty sweet deal and its the only reason i work at a job that i absolutely hate.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

This thread has turned into a gratuitous brag-fest....ughhh Nothing like putting the lowly assistant in her place on her special occasion...and scheduling sick leave "in advance". It would be funny if it wasn't so sad

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

well maybe if someone is told at hiring that she can not be off the same days i am, she should not pick days i already had scheduled to be off? ya know? i wasnt exactly bragging either. i am sorry my responding to a post with an answer that is relative to the question asks offends you. sheesh.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Wow, Jennifer, how selfish of you! And then to brag about it, and try to defend your selfishness by saying she was told at hiring she couldn't take the same days as you? How did she know what days you had scheduled? Or are you saying she shouldn't have taken the job if she wanted that day off? Wow.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

Because in 1812 we were beaten in our invasions of Canada.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

ughhhhhhhhhh. how did she know i had those days? because the moment i got approved for the time off, i emailed the dates to her. just like i do every time i get my vacation time approved. you seem to be assuming that she was hired with her wedding date in mind. she wasnt. she was working there for three years when this happened. what exactly is me being selfish? i wasnt even aware this happened until about a year after the fact. she never asked ME about it. i had time scheduled off. she had to be there to fill in for me. she knew this. she went and asked someone who was not me, for the dates, knowing she would not be able to take them. she was told no. i would reiterate that i am not bragging but clearly that didnt work the first time.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Sorry Jennifer, but your initial post was so outrageous that it deserves special attention...for lack of empathy and emotional intelligence. I know we're supposed to ignore posts, but ignoring it seemed to be too complicit. It sounds like you have mastered taking liberties from your company's own policy (on maximum time at once and sick leave) and then not returning a similar flexibility to one of your own coworkers, who happens to be at a hierarchical disadvantage. It reeks of the kind of attitude (I've got mine, too bad for you) that is cancerous and should be an object of criticism, which is what I'm doing. I would be really disturbed if other folks thought your post was helpful or appropriate.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

SHE DID NOT ASK ME FOR THE TIME OFF. SHE NEVER ONCE TALKED TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ABOUT THIS. I CAN NOT MAKE THIS ANY CLEARER SO INSTEAD I WILL TRY SAYING IT LOUDER. I BET THIS DOES NOT WORK EITHER. you have an idea in your head about me and you are sticking to it. thats all fine. but you arent going to make me feel bad for having a manager who is really awesome about approving my time off.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

I only hope that your "awesome" manager isn't reading about your thoughts on your job that you "absolutely hate" - that would be the lack of emotional intelligence I was referring to. That kind of thing doesn't usually make managers very happy. Jennifer, in all seriousness, there is no need to yell or narrowly focus on one tidbit of your post, while ignoring others. Best of luck on your travels.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

my manager is well aware i hate my job. as far as yelling, it seems to have worked. this is the first response ive gotten where someone wasnt narrowly focusing on an assumption they made about my post that wasnt even the least bit accurate.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Scenario: Employee A hates the job and plans her vacation days off without thinking of or asking a subordinate about her own plans. Employee B has been planning her wedding/honeymoon but now must tell her fiancé and family/friends that the planned dates won't work because her boss won't let her have the time off. The rest of the staff quietly sides with Employee B, and they are all thinking/planning how to get revenge and/or how to find different jobs. Outcome: Everyone despises Employee A and a hostile work environment is born (if it didn't already exist). What has Employee A gained? A toxic work environment 11 months of the year, just to get off the one month she wanted. Raise your hand if you want to work there.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Sounds like the manager has even less emotional intelligence - not to be able to arbitrate conflicting vacation schedules diplomatically and sensitively, and rewarding an employee who is not satisfied at the work place with leeway from the company's rules (my guess is maybe she hates her/his job too?). You don't work at Devil Wears Prada Inc., do you?

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

oh for crissfreaking sakes. SERIOUSLY. YOU PEOPLE. why do you make an assumption and run with it? more importantly, what is wrong with ME that i keep coming back to correct every one of your posts when it has been made crystal clear that you are all not reading anything i am saying and instead are fixating on a story you wrote yourselves that most certainly does not reflect my reality. my assistant did not pick her dates until AFTER she knew i had those days off. LOOK READ THIS: once upon a time, i was at work. i said to my assistant "are you taking any time in december". she says no. i ask for time off in december. i get approved. i forward her the approval. a few months later, she takes a full month off. because while you were all making up bullshit, none of you stopped to assume that my manager is generous with EVERYONES vacation time, not just mine. oh wait, that never occurred to any of you, did it? so anyway. during this month, she meets and gets engaged to some guy. she then, knowing already that i have these days off, decides that she wants to get married on those days. she never once says anything to me ever. she asks for the time off. she gets told no. flash forward about two years and suddenly these events cause a chain reaction where everyone reading this thread on this board loses all ability to respond to my post without making up stories in their responses. i can not explain this any clearer and i should not have to. so i wont.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Jennifer, next time, don't put extraneous "stuff" into your posts that you'll end up having to defend because it can be misunderstood - it was a gratuitous "add on" just to show you have leverage...nothing to do with the question at hand. Obviously this should be a lesson that your communication and message does not resonate with others - instead of fighting it out on your keyboard, maybe stop and think for a moment. There are millions of people now who are unemployed or underemployed; there are also millions of people who don't have the flexibility that you do. While neither is your fault nor responsibility, show some compassion in your message and it will be likewise received. Writing posts about how you exploit your flexibility at work is not likely to garner smiles and hugs. It's the tone as well that got across in a certain way, probably not intended. I will not respond to another post of yours. Like I said, best of luck.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

the only lesson i learned in this thread was that there are people who post on this board who like to make assumptions and then run off half cocked, posting about those assumptions as fact. it is absolutely mind blowing to me that you could post several untrue statements and then tell ME to stop and think before i post.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Well anyways to take the heat off one and put it on another,, read Freds post Michael.. you didn't "let" us win you know,, ha ha,, you just lost... Wondering what they teach American kids in school about the War of 1812..
" The Great North Strong and Free"... lol

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Pat, " The Great North Strong and Free"? Might want to check that "The True North Strong and Free!" Wondering what Canadian schools are teaching their children about their National Amthem? lol

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4868 posts

At my job we accrued 4.6 hours of sick leave bi-weekly. You could continue to accrue the time with no loss. There was no cashing it out when leaving employment, but if you retire the accrued time counted towards the time you worked and would be added to your service credits. I became ill about 1 1/2 years ago. At that time I had a balance of 950 hours of sick leave. I was lucky that I hadn't piddled away my sick leave like so many of my coworkers. I know people who don't keep more than 40 hours or so of sick leave. One friend broke her leg and ankle 6 months ago and had to have surgery. She was one of those people who would take an entire day off for a doctors appointment. She was screwed not having sick leave to fall back on.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

I guess weddings and compassion and empathy make strange bedfellows. Looks like putting thumbs in ears, waggling fingers and poking tongue out. I got mine, tough boogers on all of the rest of you. See where the "me... me... me..." culture comes from? It would be interesting if an individual who preplanned "sickness" and took all their sick days as vacation .... got sick. Then what? Sick days are to be used for sickness, like when you are unable to work. Interesting truths about ethics come out behind a typewriter. By the way - from here it looks like bragging and gloating. Guess weddings don't mean much anymore. Then again it must have meant something or it wouldn't have been mentioned.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

i keep a balance of five sick days just in case i do get sick. sick time rolls over forever. i get six new days each year, use them up. i dont particularly care about anyone judging my ethics since the people bashing me keep referring to specific actions i never made. my opinion of judgmental people in general is that you are absolutely revolting. actually even if someone who was capable of reading comprehension judged my ethics based on anything that is actually accurate, i still wouldnt care. my job allows employees to use their sick time to get to take more time off. i will probably never care that anyone thinks im unethical for taking them up on this generous offer. james: i am with you on the nyc part. i am pretty much over the nyc daydream i once had.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Oy vey! Such kvetching... Mike, I think your thread has just breathed its last...unless you enjoy bloodbaths ;-)

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

I much prefer a personal leave system versus sick and annual leave. Also, absent emergency situations (rare) date order of requests rule assuming no difficulty in getting the job done. Planning ahead is beneficial to all. In case of a tie when two or more folks can't be gone, seniority would be the deciding factor. Utilizing the personal leave system and order of priority for leave allowed me to enjoy lengthy vacations in Europe.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

To be sure, there are jobs where you accumulate sick days as with getting 10 sick days per year, and say you were out 3 days that year. When the following year starts, you have a total of 17, (7 from the previous year plus 10 new days for the current year). This goes on and on. Every single American invasion or incursion into Canada in 1812 or 1813, whether by state militia or Regulars was defeated without additional British reinforcements since they couldn't spare any because of their preoccupation with beating Napoleon in Spain at that time. ....just saying.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

OK, explain this sick leave concept to me... how can you accumulate sick days???

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Jim you may be surprised (or not) that sick leave is used as maternity leave in the US Fed agencies because they don't even have such a thing as maternity (or paternity) leave. It seems really odd to me that either private or public sector allows huge rollovers for "sick leave" which are then just cashed out when the employee leaves (or maxed out if sooner) because it loses all pretense of being designed just for that purpose. It's really just a catch-all with a monetary value assigned to it and a lot of companies treat it as "use or lose" at the end of the year, while others let it roll over almost indefinitely. If one is entitled to it, I don't know how these organizations manage having lots of workers with huge balances that they will want to use - it seems like it puts them in an obligation of allowing people to take off, whether it hurts the company or not financially (or otherwise). Public sector employees routinely leave or retire with large balances of sick leave. The system as designed makes no sense to me, but then again so does not having paternity leave.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

You accumulate sick leave for those days you don't use in one year which you carry over into the following year, that is, if you are permitted that. 1st year on the job...you get 10 days sick leave, out of which you use 2, ie you have 8 days left. These 8 days are carried over into your 2nd year, which means that you begin with 18 (8 left from 1st yr plus 10 you get for the new yr.) During your 2nd year you use 2 days, ie. you're carrying over 16 days at the beginning of the 3rd year. When your 3rd year starts, you sick leave days total 26 days (ie., 16 carried over plus the 10 new days for the 3rd yr.)

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

at my job, if you are out longer than five consecutive days on sick leave, you have to go on disability. the exception to this is maternity leave. so if you are not planning on having a baby, there is no need to bank more than five days.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

Understood...that's the next normal step. Where I used to work prior to retirement was like this: if you were out more than 5 working days, then you needed to show a doctor's notice explaining the lengthy absence.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Lots of places - and I'm sure many more in the future - have started a Big Crackdown on hoarding sick days AND vacation days. Use 'em or lose 'em. The peeps are growly...but these places that I'm familiar with definitely allow people to take time off without a hassle; it's just people hoarding their time for a big payout later. They should just take their vacations...it would help with that growliness ;-)

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Being allowed to carry over sick leave to the next year is not uniform across private firms, so some people have it and some don't. But sick leave is not the same as vacation, although it seems like folks use small quantities of it interchangeably (and if you are at risk of "losing" it, that gives you a perverse incentive to take it whether you need it or not) After 80 some postings, I think I would summarize this thread as "you'll be very lucky if you can take 4 weeks off at once" - it doesn't look like most people can do that although they may have accrued in excess of that amount in their leave bank. I think it's worth pointing out that most folks starting out their careers (unless they work for start-ups, google, and other high-skilled, progressive and flexible workplaces) would have to work a relatively long time with the same company to even get 4 weeks, let alone be able to use them. I have a feeling that in some countries in Europe, there is greater equity between the young and older workers, and younger workers have more vacation to begin with and they don't bear any guilt/pressure for using it. Anyone in the trenches want to chime in?

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I think at the very least the responses to this thread show that on the whole, the population of this board is older and better off than the average american. Something to keep in mind when you give advice. I've never had more than 2 weeks of vacation a year, and even those were "in theory" - if I wanted to take them, I knew my career would suffer. This is the case for many people, particularly those of us under 40, in the U.S. workplace today - for those of us who are lucky enough to be college educated and be white-collar workers in the first place. It goes without saying that people in the service sector and other industries have it much worse. And the economy is not in a state that people often have the luxury of finding another job with a better vacation policy. There are many things I love and appreciate about the U.S., but the "live to work" mindset is not one of them.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

Would I take a two-week vacation to Europe versus preferring but unable (time, money) to take a vacation there of say a month? You bet. If there's a way to merge two years worth of vacation leave into one longer vacation, great. As to affording vacations, from my experience and observations of contemporaries and older/younger folks, it's not so much about income as it's about priorities.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

"How about we create a Skip Work Day?" You mean like Ferris Bueller's Day Off..but for adults? Sounds like fun! (except the crashing the Ferarri bit)

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

So many of these replies back and forth remind me of that freakishly weird couple on the Kitchen Nightmares episode where Chef Ramsay walked out. Their insanity went on and on forever on Facebook and Reddit, arguing back and forth with complete strangers over nothing. But I don't believe their baking company was in Brooklyn...maybe Arizona.

Posted by Mike
Clawson, MI, USA
190 posts

Wow! I certainly didn't expect this much reaction. Just trying to enlighten people to find a way to get a long vacation with some planning. @Eileen. No I don't like bloodbaths. A cage fight? Ok, sure! Bloodbath? No. Save that for the movies. After watching this bloodbath I hope some of the combatants will take a vacation, sick, holiday or personal day to relax and recover.
Here's an idea. How about we create a Skip Work Day? Perhaps we can get Rick to sponsor us? Everyone who participates can donate one day of sick pay to their favorite charity. Just thinking out loud.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

"As to affording vacations, from my experience and observations of contemporaries and older/younger folks, it's not so much about income as it's about priorities." Exactly the kind of mindset that's so frustrating when interacting with people on this board. You can prioritize your life however you want, that doesn't mean in the realities of today's economy and employers who know that there are plenty of people desperate for a decent job, that you will be able to come up with a situation where you have both enough money to travel and the ability to take a week, let alone two weeks or a month. (Next someone will also claim that if you prioritize correctly you can get by in modern europe on $25/day or something ridiculous like that...) People who truly believe that everything can be solved by changing your priorities are living in a fairly privileged fantasy land. What is the reality for white-collar workers with 20-30 years of experience is often not the case for the rest of us. The baby boomers will largely be the last generation to get a bunch of benefits, and decent vacation time is one of them. Out of my peer group (excepting the federal employees, who still benefit from actual time off), I don't know a single person who could take more than two consecutive weeks a year, and this is across a variety of education and income levels. Most are lucky to be able to take one. That's the reality on the ground today.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6828 posts

I don't know a single person who could take more than two consecutive weeks a year, and this is across a variety of education and income levels. Most are lucky to be able to take one. That's the reality on the ground today. I guess you don't know any educators:(
Hmmm, so how are those reality show participants able to take months off at a time????

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

"Hmmm, so how are those reality show participants able to take months off at a time????" Because most of them are wannabe actors who are marginally employed in the first place? Or they're lucky enough to have a very understanding workplace? My basic point is, long vacations are not the norm for most American workers. If you can take long vacations, that's great, you're lucky, but the idea that people who can't just aren't "prioritizing" enough or have the ability to automatically get a job that would guarantee those kinds of vacations are naieve and out of touch.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

I agree with Sarah. And those reality show contestants? If you look at their jobs, many are college students, or bartenders, or stay-at-home parents, or self-employed, or "consultants" (or whatever euphemism they are using for "unemployed"). They don't need to afford anything other than being gone - they aren't paying for their own trips.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Sarah and Nancy, you beat me to it! Bartenders who are wanna be actors make up a large percentage of the "reality stars." One exception, there is a young couple I know here in San Diego that won the Amazing Race a couple of years ago.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

Those teachers choosing to teach summer school after the school year ends still have the time to go on a trip to Europe...at least 4- 5 weeks, depending on that district's or private school's school year.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Woaaahhhh - this thread is still going...! I think a good point was brought up by Sarah about adverse career repercussions from taking a lot of time off, which highlights the bifurcated answer to this question - it depends if you're in the 20-40 crowd and have less seniority and clout (and vacation time accrued) at work vs the Rickster crowd which is likely above 40, set in their career and have enough time accrued, or retired. But the perception - accurate or not, it's out there like a white elephant - of taking time off as being a career sideliner is a sad statement on how American businesses view vacation time (i.e. that an employee can actually be viewed as not committed enough to their job to disappear for 2-3 weeks). And of course it's not even as clear cut as that, since over 40 folks are having to reinvent themselves all the time if they're unfortunate enough to be cut prematurely...there's a sense of insecurity that plays into decisions to be gone from work for lengthy periods, it's not just a matter of figuring out how to cobble time together.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

Attention Webmaster. Cleanup on aisle 5. Cleanup on aisle 5. Wow, you go on vacation for a long weekend, don't take a laptop with you, and look what you miss!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

A "Right to Work" state means no union protection, ie, no recourse, as accurately pointed out. Unions aren't perfect either, but there is a semblance of protection as opposed to none.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6828 posts

There are unionized work places in "right to work" states, but the main difference is that even though you are covered by a union negotiated contract, a worker has the option not being a dues paying member of the union. This cut-off of funds hampers the union's ability to negotiate contracts, deal with grievances, and manage pension/benefit funds. Thus making collective bargaining less attractive to the masses.

Posted by Crash
Vance, Alabama
145 posts

Wow, What interesting reading!! Just a few things. The United States is not a Democracy, it's a Representative Republic. Remember, "To the Republic, for Which It Stands...." A big difference. Love it or leave it. We did. Left the states. Got fired once while on a 4 week holiday in Europe in 2001. My boss in the U.S. didn't like it one bit that I was gone for that amount of time, and replaced me with a cheaper drone. I had no recourse in a "Right to Work" state. Got back, and my office stuff was in a box. Thank you very much for your time here. Good luck finding a job. Don't let the door hit you on the way out! Finally got a position in Germany, which took a lot of time and effort. Because of the work I do here, I won't be taking my 5 weeks of holiday time all at once until I get a few years in my position here. Will be taking 2 week bursts of vacation, though. And congratulations to you folks on getting as much time away from work as you can in America, no matter how you have to finagle it. They work Americans like robots, 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks, no quality of life, takes both parents working to pay the bills, because wages have not kept up with productivity. The kids suffer, because Mom and Dad are exhausted, etc., etc. And there is always that small, silent undercurrent that you are replaceable. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Crash good for you, many complain about issues but you changed your life,, I am sure some people think your life must be terrible having left living in America , glad to hear you are struggling by with 5 weeks of vacation that you can take in 2 week stints.. lol

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Crash - do you mind sharing how you got a position in Germany? That sounds like a dream to me...sign me up

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

And congratulations to you folks on getting as much time away from work as you can in America, no matter how you have to finagle it. They work Americans like robots, 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks, no quality of life, takes both parents working to pay the bills, because wages have not kept up with productivity. The kids suffer, because Mom and Dad are exhausted, etc., etc. And there is always that small, silent undercurrent that you are replaceable. Hear-hear, Crash. I would move to Europe in a New York minute if I could extricate myself. Conversation with a French friend several years ago: Her: So, how many hours do you work? Me: Oh, typically 40-44 per week, but sometimes as much as 56-60 when required.
Her: Quoi?!? Merde!! French people would riot at the Bastille if they had to work more than 35 hours!

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Give me a break, some of the latest posts make it sound like Europe is some type of Utopian workplace, we know it's not. Isn't there ia bit of an unemployment problem there as we speak? And to say Americans are have no quality of life because of work is simply silly, especially on this message board where people plan and talk about all their trips (many multiple trips) to Europe and other places throughout the world. The U.S. bashing gets old real quick, no place is perfect, but for the most part, probably most if not all Americans who live and work in Europe were provided with that opportunity through the U.S. education system, be it grade school, high school and our universities. A couple of months ago there was a thread asking how one could get a job in Europe, many of the North Americans who are working there responded honestly and it came across as just what it is, it's work, not an extended vacation. And don't tell me that both the husband and wife both don't work in European countries too, it's a worldwide reality, the U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on that. And last but not least, everyone is replaceable, be it the United States, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Australia. Steve Jobs was replaced and Apple is still in business making money.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Barry - Be that as it may, Europeans get more vacation time that they can use - and that's what we're talking about. And most European kids out of college don't start their careers being heavily indebted like here, so I wouldn't give too much props to our great education system which is a mini-scam (no denying we have top grad schools but at a steep price). True, everyone is replaceable (unless you have truly unique skills), but different places around the world have different laws to protect you from getting replaced. I'll be the first to admit though that the too stringent, union type deals where everyone is protected at all costs are hardly competitive and working 35 hours a week max is almost laughable for someone who is a "professional" (unless you work for yourself and don't want to commit to more hours).

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Its so frustrating when everything seems to come back to some as "American Bashing" is this something you are taught in preschool, any criticism is "bashing".
Some things ARE better in other countries,, why is that unacceptable to admit . I know that in States I can get a lovely home for under 200 thousand dollars, here that would get me a one bedroom shoebox condo in a bad area ,its sucks but that's the way it is,, does that make me un-Canadian to wish that we had real estate our kids can afford? I also wish we had some of the social services that they have in the Scandnavian countries,, paternity leave for a year,, that's awesome,, is it "Canadian Bashing" for me to say our paternity leave sucks... ?

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Pat - only if that lovely home is in what Sarah Palin calls "the real America" or it's in very bad shape, certainly not in the Northeast or West coast.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Agnes I am sure its different in some places, LA and New York , but I watch those real estate shows and drool,,, 4 bed room houses with walk in closets , totally stainless steel kitchens, big yards, pools down the street, double sink master ensuites, houses that would go for 6 or 7 hundred thousand here at least, and they were going for under 170,000 somewhere near Austin or Housten I think,, I was almost ready to move there !

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1173 posts

Agnes: laws that protect people from losing their jobs? Sounds like you have never actually had to be involved in a corporate "re-organization". Employers are well aware of the laws that are supposed to protect workers in your Utopian world, and they are really good at manipulating whatever they need to clean house and ultimately hire who they want. I work for a very large international company. In the past year they have cut hundreds of jobs in America, next on deck... Our European offices will see many let go and a number of offices shut down completely. Who are we getting to do the work? Easy. It's all going to India. They earn about 1/2 of what their American or European counterparts make, and they work far more than 50-60 hours a week.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Ceidleh - American or international corporate orgs were the furthest from my mind - more like Feds and public sector overseas (and here too) where it's very hard to remove people due to seniority rules and the like. Some of them go by the name of civil service protections. Anyway, this is getting wayyyy off track..didn't mean to even go there.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

@pat: Pat, I am pretty sure you would not change your beautiful Victoria for Houston. I have relatives there and I was there and believe me there is a reason why it is so cheap there. I would not trade Seattle for Houston even if they would offer me house for free there.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

There are protections in some States against being fired without just cause, but there are myriad ways to justify a layoff, and corporate America knows and uses every method with great skill and finesse. 'Reorganization' or 'restructuring' or 'merger' or 'consolidation' are often (but not always) buzzwords for workforce reduction to cut labor costs, or clear out more expensive labor and bring in younger, cheaper labor.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Is that you Sarah Palin? Can you hear us from Alaska?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

We must the "perfect country" . I will start. The social programs in Sweden and Norway( childcare and maternity and paternity) The food( and food safety rules regarding no GMOs ) of France and Italy but the prices of America. The Canadian and Australia Medical system of health care coverage. The cleanliness of the mountain villages of Switzeraland . The UK gun laws and tea. The American real estate opportunities!
The German drug treatment programs.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

@Pat - The US real estate/ housing sector is one of the biggest, crookedest, tax-payer backed sham you'll ever see - thanks to mortgage securitization and other financial instruments developed by Wall Street and inept public policies and tax preferences related to housing that create perverse incentives, we had a bubble that wiped out tons of people, destroyed trillions in wealth, and caused tons of collateral damage across the entire economy. I would never classify that sector as enviable (and I didn't even mention the amount that real estate agents pocket from this opaque system, which fortunately is getting disrupted by technology). And re: food safety - you can't have a race to the bottom with prices while enforcing safety regulations and keeping Big Food from spiking everything in sight with chemicals, salt, fat, and sugar and creating foodlike products that don't even resemble anything natural. Never mind the suffering inflicted on livestock and environmental externalities to boost profits. So I vote NO for cheap food. We've actually exported obesity around the world through our western processed diet and that's nothing to be proud of.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1964 posts

@Rose "Conversation with a French friend several years ago: Her: So, how many hours do you work? Me: Oh, typically 40-44 per week, but sometimes as much as 56-60 when required.
Her: Quoi?!? Merde!! French people would riot at the Bastille if they had to work more than 35 hours!" You do know this isn't true, I hope. Only lower-salaried workers can walk away from their jobs at 35 hours. Check on what any professional, manager, executive, educator, or business owner does and you'll find 40, 50, 60 hours, just like here. As for vacation, clearly half the French can't afford to go away even if they have five weeks off. That's how Paris Plage began, for those who couldn't leave.

Posted by Leslie
Atlanta, Georgia
370 posts

Ditto everything Bets said. The French are a hard working bunch, both partners in the family. I've got a small group of friends/colleagues that work the same 60+ hour weeks I do and take 4-5 day weekend trips to Antibes or Tunisia and (oh gasp!) take a couple of weeks to visit the US, usually NYC, Miami, or the west coast. I think some stereotypes die a long death. Most in the western world live/work like the rest in the western world. Might be a rule for some in France, but I have yet to meet a 35 hour weeker. We all pretty much do the same thing anymore. Those that don't, fall behind, adjust, and catch up. Life and technology is fluid. The smart ones adjust and learn to run their business from an ipad poolside :)

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1964 posts

Work hard; play hard ;) Most of the employees who can walk away at 35 hours are doing physical labor scratching out a living, so I say all the better for them. They're unlikely to be able to go the same places most of us go.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Er I work less then 35 hours a week and I go the places other people go... sorry working harder and longer does not always mean you come out ahead( it would be nice if life was fair like that ) but its not .

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

On the buzzwords for reorganisation, restructuring, consolidation, merger, thirty years ago the word "downsizing" was used...no longer in vogue? Living rooms showed a picture of Marx and one of Bismarck side by side.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Pat, when I read a sentence that says "They work Americans like robots, 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks no quality of life, takes both parents working to pay the bills, because wages have not kept up with productivity. The kids suffer, because Mom and Dad are exhausted, etc., etc. And there is always that small, silent undercurrent that you are replaceable." Crash, no disrepect to your post. I take that as America bashing because, first it's says America, and we know that the things mentioned are worldwide, America doesn't have a monopoly on that, as others have posted they know of Europeans who's life is like that too. And of course I agree things are better in other countries, we don't have a monopoly on that either. It just gets to me when one country is singled out in this manner. And the post "Her: So, how many hours do you work? Me: Oh, typically 40-44 per week, but sometimes as much as 56-60 when required.
Her: Quoi?!? Merde!! French people would riot at the Bastille if they had to work more than 35 hours! Maybe more subtle but still can be taken that way. IMHO

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

And Agnes, I know this is about vacation time, but this thread went off the rails long before I came along. We could argue about the quality and price of the American education system for weeks on end, but my point is it's provided many of the people on this board the opportunity to travel throughout the world be it for work or pleasure. I brought the education aspect into the conversation because of the statement "no quality of life in America." And if an company has an employee who has truly unique jobs skills that they can't be replaced then that company may be doomed to failure because if there's one thing we can all agree on is this coming Monday is not guaranteed for any of us. Some people take themselves too seriously when it comes to work, I'm not saying they shouldn't take their work seriously, just not themselves. For example, going back to the post where someone mentioned pretty much taking 2 months off a year and they and "its the only reason i work at a job that i absolutely hate," and their boss knows they hate their job might want to polish up their resume. Because sooner or later that boss is going to realize if we can keep the company running with them gone that much we can pretty much do without them altogether. This is they type of person who is replaceable. Unless of course mom or dad are the boss. And if someone is self employed and only works 35 hours a week anywhere in the world that business isn't going to be in business long. It goes without saying starting your own business is pretty much a 24 hour a day thing anywhere, any country. To all, I know I've gotten way off topic, sorry about that, as we've read for just about every job field and country there are countless ways to take time vacation time.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

My relating verbatim the conversation with my friend has evoked a few responses. I know my friend well enough to say she was not speaking for French people in general. She very much likes and spends much of her time with Americans because of the nature of her job. She was speaking about her own (personal) feeling that there's more to life than work - than giving your heart and soul over to a corporation or an employer who only uses you as hired labor and feels free to throw you over at any time in the interest of profit. She is a highly regarded professional, but her job is not her life or how she defines herself. She's an inspiration and a reminder to me, and knowing her has gradually enabled me to adjust my life in a more positive, less work-consumed way.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
587 posts

Rose, I respect that and totally agree with that's how people should approach their job. But the quote says "French people", not her saying "I". The gist of many conversations gets lost on message boards if they're not clearly stated and even then they get lost.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

I suppose it depends on the country singled out where you muster as much damning but accurate evidence. @ Crash...That's exactly why one should start a serious foreign language study if not beginning in high school then in college, pursue it afterwards so that you'll be linguistically equipped over there.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Can Americans really get 4 weeks of vacation??? Definitely, especially if you are self-employed...Oh wait, then it just means you take your work with you as there is never really a vacation:) @Hey, Mike... leave it to a Michigander to stir things up a bit. Couldn't sleep so I thought I would read a little travel stuff and it would help relax me:)) Well, this post woke me up...

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
240 posts

Let's please keep the conversation on-topic and respectful. One more disrespectful, off-topic, and needlessly nit-picky comment about who said what when and what they meant and how they meant it (etc.) will force us to delete the thread. Thanks.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Nigel, we all know that the UK isn't really Europe. ;) It's not that the Europeans I know don't work hard, it's just that they tend to see it as their "right" to not work overtime very much, if at all. And they're not just Germans, although almost all of them are working for German companies, which may be the difference. I know another exception, a Danish guy, but guess who he works for? Microsoft. Actually, now that I think about it, there's another exception - a German I know who works in Italy for Whirpool. But these things all have U.S. companies in common, and I wouldn't be surprised if U.S. business culture bleeds over to U.S. businesses overseas as well. But everyone I know who works for Daimler, Bosch, Porsche, etc - they're out the door by 5pm. Sometimes earlier. I'm sure they're very productive - I suspect that in the U.S. our long hours actually end up negatively affecting productivity, but nobody wants to be "the first to leave the office" in the U.S. There's a huge stigma attached to that, whereas my Western European friends don't understand the point of it.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Wait, do people really think that Europeans work just as many hours as Americans? Simply not true. The stats back me up, as does all my anecdotal evidence. At least in Germany, 9-5 is fairly flexible, overtime is not a concept anyone I know is familiar with. And most of the Europeans I know work for major companies like Bosch, Daimler, and Porsche, many as engineers. Not laborers. The only people I know working long hours here are Americans who are working for American companies abroad. Not a value judgement on whether Americans are "drones" or if Europeans are lazy or anything like that, but there is a far different approach to work in Western Europe than there is in the U.S. and that is definitely obvious when you look at how many hours people work.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Following up on Sarah's comment, I dug up some data (some of the results were not intuitive to me). You can sort average hours worked by country in descending order. http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=ANHRS My take is that a lot of folks in the US work a lot of hours due to job insecurity and an expectation (in the private sector) that you could be here one day and gone the next.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

I disagree with Sarah's statements about "Europeans" working less. I do see that she talks about the people that she sees, in professional jobs in southwest Germany. It is perhaps a generalization to equate that to what all or most of the rest of Europe is like. In my former job as a manager with my British very large company I was paid for 35 hours a week. Most weeks I worked around 50 to 60 hours, many over 80. None of the overtime was paid. I now have a different non management job much in which I work a nominal 36 hour week, but with paid overtime I average about 48 hours a week. I think I work pretty hard. I'm pretty representative of my co-workers in my current job, and in the previous one I worked a bit less than several of my colleagues.

Posted by Kathleen
Bolton
88 posts

My hubby is Canadian. When I asked him if he ever wanted to move back there (just to give the kids a new experience) he replied "No, I CHOSE to leave Canada." People on this board need to remember it's not always greener on the other side.