The Tortured History of Paid Leave in the United States

Posted by Alan E. May 7, 2014 7:00:00 AM on

How did we get here?
The United States is one of the few industrialized countries without statutory national mandates for paid leave. The EU  requires a minimum of twenty leave days, not counting national holidays. Australia has similar laws.


On average, U.S. companies provide ten to twenty days per year depending upon seniority. But many companies provide only ten days (two weeks) off per year. Then there the 25 percent of American workers and 31 percent of low wage earners have no paid vacation time at all, according to a 2011 study by the Center for Economics and Research

Where Did Paid Leave Start?

Amazingly, while the U.S. currently lags behind, the push for paid leave actually started here. Paid leave mandates have been attempted and got stopped each time. More than 100 years ago, in 1910 President William Taft proposed that every American worker needed 2 to 3 months of vacation. He said it was “in order to continue his work next year with the energy and effectiveness which it ought to have.” Taft hammered away at Congress, but his law never passed. However, But around this time, Sweden and Germany took the American president's lead, and both passed legislation mandating seven weeks of paid vacation per year.

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Topics: Time Off Management, vacation time, paid time off, sick time

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