The 10 countries with the least paid vacation—the U.S. is No. 2

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Paid vacation days are essential to promoting healthy work-life balance among professionals. But according to a new report from Resume.io, a career resource platform, American workers aren’t getting enough of them.

The report, which reviewed data on laws governing annual statutory paid leave and paid public holidays in 197 countries, found that the United States is the second worst country for paid vacation days.

“The United States’ lack of paid vacation days negatively impacts work-life balance in many ways,” Lotte van Rijswijk, Resume.io’s content team lead, tells CNBC Make It. The average American gets 10 vacation days per year after one year of service, which are all public holidays like Presidents’ Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, access to paid vacation leave can vary due to a number of factors including industry, full-time versus part-time employment and union versus nonunion status.

“Studies show that 50% of American workers are not taking vacation time. This lack of downtime could lead to burnout and stress — and in more severe cases depression and mental health conditions,” van Rijswijk says. “According to the American Psychological Association, 27% of U.S. adults say they’re so stressed they can’t function.”

Based on the report, here are the 10 countries with the least amount of paid vacation days:

1. Micronesia

Continent: Oceania

Total Paid Vacation Days: 9

2. United States of America

Continent: North America

Total Paid Vacation Days: 10

3. Nauru

Continent: Oceania

Total Paid Vacation Days: 10

4. Palau

Continent: Oceania

Total Paid Vacation Days: 12

5. Kiribati

Continent: Oceania

Total Paid Vacation Days: 13

6. Mexico

Continent: North America

Total Paid Vacation Days: 14

7. China

Continent: Asia

Total Paid Vacation Days: 16

8. Lebanon

Continent: Asia

Total Paid Vacation Days: 17

9. Philippines

Continent: Asia

Total Paid Vacation Days: 17

10. Nigeria

Continent: Africa

Total Paid Vacation Days: 17

According to van Rijswijk, the U.S. also falls short in the paid leave department. Though most countries have a norm of 4 weeks of paid leave, the U.S. is the only “developed country with no statutory paid leave.”

And given the increased concerns of an economic downturn in 2023, working mothers, fathers, and caregivers shouldn’t expect favorable changes to paid leave any time soon – however, van Rijswijk says “employers who value employees’ wellbeing won’t cut this type of benefit.”

“Our prediction is that some companies might consider rolling paid leave (parental and vacation) back to the minimum allowed by law. However, businesses with a longer-term vision are unlikely to do this,” she explains.

“That’s because when companies cut paid leave, all employers can argue is that they are winning back time, and time might be money — but it won’t be worth much if the workforce is overworked, stressed, unmotivated and unproductive.”

For employees vying for more paid vacation days or paid leave, van Rijswijk recommends advocating for yourself by expressing your needs with leadership.

“People can advocate for themselves and their needs by negotiating the number of paid vacation days with their employer,” she says. “The most accessible time to do this is at the stage of accepting an employer’s offer of employment — but compassionate employers should be open to having this conversation with staff who feel they require more paid time off (especially when circumstances change, like personal health and family size, etc.), no matter how long they have worked there.”

“Another way countries with the least paid vacation days can push for change is by putting pressure on government groups and representatives. The more noise employees make about their rights, the more coverage and airtime the issue will receive. Over time this could help decisionmakers take concerns seriously and prompt a change in workplace benefit law and policy.”

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