Strangely Americans Work without Holidays

Even with my three sons and their wives working in US, I did not know that in US, an employee does not get any mandatory annual holidays with full pay.

According to the report, compiled by the Washington-based Centre for Economic Policy Research, the US is the only country where employees have no statutory leave, and they get about half as much time off in reality as Europeans get. “The United States is in a class of its own,” the report says. “It is the no-vacation nation.”

A report published by the European Trade Union Institute provides an international snapshot of how much paid leave people get by law and in practice in 21 countries.

Finland, followed by France, offers working people the most statutory vacation, at more than six weeks per year. Canada and Japan require employers to give at least 10 days paid leave to their staff. The Europeans get at least four weeks by law and often much more in practice.

India appears to be much better in this respect. Even in our own days, we used to get one month PL (privileged leave) and 15 days of SL (sick leave) every year all paid. We could accumulate them for years. Many a times, we could encash them too. And at the time of retirement, I got a cheque for the holidays not availed. Were we not lucky? I am sure the norms would have continued in manufacturing sector, if not in IT about which I don’t have much information. However, I could never enjoy my holidays in real sense, and that may be true for many other Indians too. But in my case, I was myself responsible for that. Here is my story.

In the first five years of my job at Hindustan Motors (HM), I remember to have taken to two short holidays to visit my village home. The occasions were the marriage of the cousin sister of my father, and then the death of my grandfather. When Yamuna joined me at HM, we went on a long leave to Bodarhi, my mother’s village where she used to live in December 1966. That was the time when I went for a volunteer work with Jai Prakash Narayan’s Bihar Draught Relief Association for almost 20 days and worked with some Peace Corps members from Australia and US in Noorsarai (Biharsarif). That was the time when I visited Patna, Nalanda and Rajgrih for the first time while returning from Noorsarai.Thereafter, we visited Bodarhi number of times to fulfill the wishes of my mother. We built a country house there according to our test. I had to work hard for that and go there many a times. It was outside the village with a good courtyard with number of mango and other fruit trees. Then the whole family visited Bodarhi to have the religious function when the house was complete. That was the time when our car fell far deep into the ditch near Asansol. We escaped any major injury. The Ambassador car was damaged, but we traveled in the same car for about 450 kms to reach home the next day. I still remember my father waited for us for the first time. When we didn’t reach in time, he returned. We took the car right up to Bodarhi in the same condition. It was a weeklong religious function worshipping Shiva. On the final day, as usual there was a big party in which all the people of the village and my relatives participated. I had gone door to door to invite them.

Unfortunately, I got busy thereafter in factory. It was a madness of mine to prove myself extraordinary. I hardly availed my holidays but for once when we went for a week or so for a trip to Orissa- Bhuvaneswar,(Udaigiri, Khandagiri) Konark, and Puri. The family still remembers those wonderful days.

However the statutory holidays got accumulated and helped me many times in many ways. When I went to England in 1982 with my wife, we took a long holiday. Besides my official work at Cam Gear in Cardiff, and Vauxhall Motors in Luton, we stayed for a week or more in Birmingham and visited a number of factories including Jaguar and the Motor show going on there at that time. I got the accumulated leave encashed too once when I was building my house at Salt Lake. In those days, the task of construction of a house was a difficult project as there were no cheap loans available, neither was there any tax rebate on house loans, as it is possible today.

I still wonder why American workers have not got these statutory holidays. I think it may be happening in individual contracts that an employee signs with his employer. However, I am sure Americans enjoy holidays regularly and better. I would love if someone let me know more about it.

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