Europeans get quite a bit more vacation time than Americans. I never considered that might be because of the effects of taxation. Via The Corner:
The problem, employers and economists believe, has a lot to do with the 63 percent marginal tax rate paid by top earners in Denmark – a level that hits anyone making more than 360,000 Danish kroner, or about $70,000…
…[T]he high taxes, mixed with his wife’s discomfort in Denmark, meant that a job offer in Qatar three years ago was all it took to pry [Thomas Sorensen] away from Copenhagen. Now, he is ensconced in Frankfurt, setting up a new business on the side and planning to pay no more than 25 percent of his income to the German state.
“When you are at 63 percent tax, you don’t look forward to the evaluation with the boss to get a raise,” Sorensen said. “You look for more vacation or a training course in the tropics – something that you get the full benefit of.”
So if you’re a Dane making the $70,000 figure, a 5% raise would be $3,500, but after taxes you’d only realize an extra $1,295, which amounts to a 1.8% raise. With that pitiful amount for a raise extra vacation time is much more attractive.
Wikipedia’s vacation entry lists minimum vacation times for countries around the world.
As a BTW, I’d prefer mandatory minimum personal days (to be used as sick days or vacation days at the worker’s discretion) to a minimum wage. Unlike a Federal minimum wage, personal days are automatically indexed to the local economy and the worker’s labor value.
I view personal days the way I view lunch breaks – as something necessary to a healthy and sustainable work environment. If you can’t take a day off when you’re sick you’re less likely to be healthy and more likely to fall behind financially. I say that as someone who never had a job with vacation benefits until I was in my late twenties. Having paid sick days and a little discretionary time off made a huge difference in my outlook on life and work.
Ten or so personal days a year would probably be about right as a minimum. According to the Wikipedia link 25% of U.S. workers receive no vacation days at all. The average number of vacation days for all U.S. workers is only 10, so that would bump up our numbers quite a bit considering all of the people who have more vacation days and sick days that that.