Monday, July 23, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Time Off

Woo-hoo for time off! (
We are in the summer season right now and summer means one thing...vacation! The problem is if you do not have a job that gives you many vacation days summer can just mean more of the same old work. Another place that the USA sadly lags behind in comparison to Germany is paid time off. If you are working hard and want to have time off to play hard too, you better hope to find yourself in Germany with the vacation time to take off and travel the world.

Days off in the USA:

Unfortunately, the USA does not have any law that forces companies to give paid vacation time. That's right, NONE! No fear though. When you work for a large company you often get something. According to Mercer, the minimum paid vacation days for large companies is 15. Yes 15, that is three weeks off. Sounds really great when you add in the 10 paid public holidays (also not law that these days must be given off but typical for large companies). Twenty-five days off if you have a good job that gives them to you. That is plenty of time to relax a little and still get paid...until you compare it to Germany.

Days off in Germany:

Germany is a firm believer of free time for workers. The legal minimum paid vacation days that can be given (Yes, this is law so no matter if your company is big or small you can be rest assured you will get time off.) is 24. The chances are if you work for a large company your vacation days will range between 30 and 35. In addition, law in Germany gives workers public holidays off which average around 10 a year (more where we live because Baden-W├╝rttemberg is the only German state that publicly celebrates both Catholic and Protestant holidays). This means the minimum number of days off you can legally receive in Germany is comparison with the USA's legal minimum of ZERO.  No wonder Germans love to travel!

What this means:

Closed June 28 - July 22
Having a large number of days off is great if you are the worker. It gives you time to take off, relax, see the world, or catch up with things around the house. There are some negatives about it though. Some companies shut down in August so that their employees can use their time off. There is nothing more frustrating then trying to get in contact with someone who will be gone not for a week or two but an entire month. This is very common for doctor offices and other privately owned small companies. Also, Germany does not allow stores and businesses to be open on Sundays (other than restaurants). Not even truck drivers are allowed to drive on Sunday. When you forget that one thing you need for dinner Sunday night, you might be cursing the idea of  protecting the worker. Believe us, we both have been there before :)

Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. Germany is one of the most productive countries in the world and workers (at least from the outside) seem to be happy and not as burned out as American workers. Also, Germans make good use of their holiday time and seem to use them up each year while Americans will often let vacation days go to waste because they do not feel they can get away from the office. While Americans live to work, Germany is definitely a work to live type of nation. Right now we aren't complaining. We are happy to have our vacation days and use them all up each year.

Statistics according to Mercer on CNN money

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