Spring break and winter breaks are things that students should savor, for once they enter the “real world,” these luxuries will be short lived. Americans are being deprived of their vacation time, and are suffering the consequences. While most Americans are not familiar with the Japanese term “karoshi,” a term describing death through stress, chances are that they will soon. Americans need to change their trend of petty excuses and demand that their bosses give them more vacation time.
Fourty percent of Americans work 50 hours every week, and many without paid over time.
The Chicago Tribune reported, “no one in Europe puts in more than 40 hours without overtime, and most work a lot less.” The average American, after their first year, takes an average of about eight days of vacation per year, and those just entering the job market receive even less. In contrast, many Europeans take nearly eight weeks of vacation per year, and several companies there give their employees an extra half-month to two months pay to use for their vacation.
This is affecting Americans in a very damaging way. This amount of work is causing a tremendous amount of stress. Joe Robinson, founder of the campaign “Work For Life,” says that MRIs taken of stressed workers’ brains have striking similarities to the MRI image of a sleeping person’s brain. Studies show that it takes two weeks of continuous vacation to fully alleviate the negative influence stress can cause on the brain. This means that long weekends are not a substitute. In fact, an annual two-week vacation can reduce the risk of heart attack by 30 percent in men and 50 percent in women, according to the study.
The United States is one of the few industrialized countries that has no laws guaranteeing that workers receive any vacation time at all, where as most countries in the European Union require that companies give workers at least 30 days of vacation time.
But Americans also need to realize that they do have the option to take vacations. All they must do is ask. Workers have legal rights to vacation time, as long as their company has a vacation policy. Americans need to escape from their work and remember to take the old “no one ever died wishing that they spent more time at the office” as advice, or chances are they will die in the office after all.