Should the government have a say in how much paid vacation time private sector employees get each year? In some countries it does. Would you support a law that tells your employer how many paid vacation days to give you? Sounds nice, but be careful about what you wish for.

Fox Business says the Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that "the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid vacation time or paid holidays." It says Canada guarantees workers 19 paid vacation days, Japan 25 and Italy 30 days. The report says, "Spain had the highest number of mandated paid vacation and paid holidays at 39. Austria had 38 and Finland and Sweden were around 36."

Here in America, the Center found that "ninety percent of full-time private-sector workers receive paid vacation and paid holiday time. But only 40 percent of part-time workers get paid vacation and 44 percent receive paid holidays." The more you earn, the better your vacation benefits. Paid vacation time for hourly employees varies.

TSM Photo Barry Richard
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Many Americans who do have paid time off tend not to use it. Some fear falling behind or tough competition within the workplace. Others say they feel pressure from managers to work while on vacation time.

The idea that the government can tell private sector employers how much paid vacation time to give their workers sound intriguing, but I have concerns.

The government already imposes guidelines and regulations on businesses that impact the bottom line, which directly impacts a company's ability to hire and grow. I am concerned that too much government involvement in private industry could have a detrimental effect, and therefore I am not quite there yet on government-mandated vacation time.

I am all for paid vacation time. I never leave a minute of it on the table. I earn it, and therefore I use it. The thought that the government could have so much control over the operation of private business frightens me. That type of control is socialism for certain and I am not sure I am ready to go down that road.

Companies should offer their employees adequate paid time off as a matter of course. It's good business practice. Some things are best left to the marketplace to resolve. If an employer gets a reputation for not treating its employees well, it will have a lot of turnover and that can be disruptive and bad for business. But too much government involvement in the private affairs of its citizens is not a good thing either and can lead to abuses of power.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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