Saturday, September 26, 2009

Paid Vacation Act and its Fun "Facts"

Over the summer (I can't believe summer's over, what happened?), I posted an entry Vacation Time - Use it or USE IT! That post described a proposal by employment lawyers for employers to force employees to take vacations. Congress had its own idea this summer: force employers to provide paid vacation time.

On May 21, 2009, Reps. Grayson, Lewis and Hinchey introduced the Paid Vacation Act of 2009 (.pdf)(HR 111-2654). The gist of the Act is that employers with more than 50 employees will be required to provide one week of paid vacation while those with 100 or more employees must provide two weeks of paid vacation. The GovTrack report on HR 111-2654 shows that it is in committee now with only four co-sponsors so we'll see if this thing gets any traction.

In the meantime, the bill contains a number of interesting findings. As you can tell by the use of quotes around the word "Facts" in the title, I'm not sure I'd take all of these as gospel. I found some of them fascinating nonetheless.
(1) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each year the average American works one month (160 hours) more today than in 1976;
(2) job-related stress costs business $344 billion a year in absenteeism, lost productivity, and health costs;
(3) some 75 percent of visits to primary care physicians come from stress-induced problems;
(4) 147 countries require paid vacation leave, and the United States is the only industrialized Nation without a minimum annual leave law;
(5) one of the fastest growing economies in the world, China, requires 3 weeks off for employees, which they call ‘‘Golden Weeks’’;
....
(9) men who don’t take regular vacations are 32 percent more likely to die of heart attacks, and 21 percent more likely to die early of all causes;
(10) women who don’t take regular vacations have a 50 percent greater risk of heart attack, and are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do;
....
(12) vacations allow workers and businesses to increase productivity, decrease stress-related health costs, and provide time for family strengthening and bonding.
If this act is passed and employers follow the advice of some employment law attorneys to mandate employees take vacation then you have an interesting scenario: Congress makes employers give vacation time; and employers make employees take vacation time. The only question that remains is "Who will force Congress to take vacation time?" As a near-decade resident of the DC area I assure you that won't be necessary!