The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require workers to take vacation. And with Memorial Day weekend, (the unofficial start of summer here in the U.S.), just around the corner, many Americans are still not planning to take any time off from work.

Studies have shown that vacation deprivation increases mistakes and resentment at co-workers. Not only that, workers who don’t take vacation do not enjoy these benefits:

  • improved productivity and creativity
  • lower risk of heart attack
  • improved immune system
  • better sleep
  • deeper family relationships

The infographic below provides some interesting information about which countries do require vacation for the benefit of their employees.

Did You Know Some Countries Require Vacation? - An Infographic from Employment Law HQ

Embedded from Employment Law HQ

As the U.S. Department of Labor states “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or federal or other holidays. These benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).”

Even when Americans are offered vacation, many don’t take it.  According to a study performed by Harris Interactive for JetBlue, about 57% of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2011, and most of them left an average of 11 days on the table – or nearly 70 percent of their allotted time off.

In a CNN Money article (Vacation? No Thanks, Boss), American worker cite many reasons for not taking time off including not having enough money to take a vacation, not wanting the stress of catching up on work when they return from vacation and fear of taking time off from an employer in an unstable job market.

Vacation breaks are better for our overall wellness than overtime. Most people feel better, have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their work goals after a vacation.