Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Americans Support Paid Vacation Law

As the nation celebrates July 4th,  a new poll finds that most Americans don’t have or don’t feel they can take time for “the Pursuit of Happiness,” and more than two-thirds support a law that would guarantee paid vacations for American workers. 

The scientific telephone sample of 1,002 Americans was conducted by The Opinion Research Corporation, a leading professional pollster, during the week of June 23, 2008.

The poll found 69% of Americans saying they would support a paid vacation law, with the largest percentage of respondents favoring a law guaranteeing three weeks vacation or more.  Take Back Your Time advocates a three-week paid vacation law.  Americans under 35 (83%), African-Americans (89%), Hispanic-Americans (82%), and low-income Americans (82%) were the strongest supporters of such a law, as were residents of the Northeast (75%) and the South (72%).  75% of women and 63% of men support a paid vacation law.  74% of families with children support such a law. Every demographic showed majority support for a law.  Overall, only 27% of those polled were opposed to a paid vacation law.


Americans were asked how many weeks of vacation are best to prevent “burnout.”  52% said they need three weeks or more and 82% said they needed at least two weeks. 

Disturbingly though, the survey showed that among working Americans, 28% took no vacation time at all last year, half took a week or less, and two-thirds got less than two weeks off.  The median time off for all workers was 8.2 days, far below the three weeks that most cited as the optimum to prevent burnout, much less actually relax and enjoy themselves.

A growing body of evidence suggests that burnout is just one of the negative consequences of too little vacation time.  Studies have firmly established that men who don’t take vacations are 32% more likely to die of heart attacks and women are 50% more likely.  Lack of vacation time doubles rates of depression for women.  After vacations, workers gain an hour per night of quality sleep and their reaction times are 30-40% faster, improvements that last for several months.

“American work-life is out of balance and this poll shows people know it,” said Cecile Andrews, chair of the Take Back Your Time board.  “The only difference between dinosaurs and American vacations is that dinosaurs are already extinct.  We are losing the breaks we need to stay healthy, avoid stress and bond with our families.  It’s certainly a shame that neither Presidential candidate has addressed this issue.  Maybe this poll will get them to take notice.”

Take Back Your Time just launched a new Web site promoting the idea of a paid vacation law. 

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