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Paid Time Off Around the World

The US federal government offers federal employees 9 paid holidays plus sick and vacation leave based on tenure. But the US mandates no such benefit for public workers.

This is in stark contrast to other OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).


The United States is the only OECD nation which does not mandate paid leave and holidays for its workers. The Harvard Law School calls us the No Vacation Nation. Just look how the US compares to other countries.

This doesn’t mean that none of our US workers receive paid leave, of course. It just means that the government doesn’t require it and so companies can offer it or not at their discretion. The mandate of paid leave and the amount required is an interesting difference between developed nations. As you can see from the graph, the US offers zero days while Austria and Portugal offer 35.

Regardless of whether your employees are Federal employees or not, you can still offer the standard holidays and even base your vacation and sick leave on the guidelines for Federal employees. The number of paid leave days varies for full-time/part-time workers and by number of years employed. Paid leave guidelines can be viewed here.

The 9 paid Federal holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Washington’s Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Even though it’s not required by law, consider throwing some holiday pay at your employees this memorial day weekend!

Our online time clock software offers the option to track sick, vacation, and PTO as well as holidays. Holidays can be added on a global basis for employees and specific accruals tracking can be set for each employee’s individual needs.

4 Comments

  1. […] My fear is that some employers may reduce their paid time off offering and instruct their workforce to work more hours if they want time off. I hope employers don’t get this idea if the bill does pass. It could be a major step in the wrong direction since the US is already so behind other developed nations in time off policies. […]

  2. Burned Out
    Burned Out June 7, 2018

    I have been an hourly worker doing a salary job for 20 years.

    I get four weeks vacation and zero sick days after 20 years while my salary counterparts get SIX weeks vacation a year PLUS SIX WEEKS of full pay when out sick!

    We need federal laws in the USA forcing companies to provide the same vacation & sick leave to all employees!

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