Most Americans Believe Employers Should Be Required To Give Workers Paid Vacation: Poll

People enjoying the beach on hot summer day
People enjoying the beach on hot summer day

WASHINGTON -- Americans overwhelmingly support the idea of requiring large U.S. employers to provide their workers with at least some paid vacation time, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

In a poll conducted ahead of Labor Day, 75 percent of respondents said they believe in placing such a mandate upon the business community. A mere 17 percent said they oppose it. The support crossed party lines to include 87 percent of self-identified Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans.

The United States is an outlier among the world's advanced economies in having no law to guarantee workers paid time off from work.

In a 2013 analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research looking at the U.S. and 16 European nations, America was the only country without some form of a vacation mandate on its books. European countries tend to guarantee workers four weeks' worth of vacation per year, and some countries offer as much as five or six. Canada mandates at least two weeks.

Most U.S. employers voluntarily offer paid vacation time to their workers, but many still opt not to. That's particularly the case in lower-wage industries like food service and retail, where workers are also less likely to receive paid sick leave. The same analysis by CEPR estimated that 23 percent of U.S. workers don't get any paid vacation.

Of the respondents to the HuffPost/YouGov poll who were currently employed, nearly one in three said they receive no paid vacation time through their jobs. Only 46 percent of all respondents said they had taken a vacation in the past year. (As a separate poll recently found, many of the American workers fortunate enough to receive paid vacation time choose not to take advantage of it for various reasons.)

There appears to be little appetite among Republicans or Democrats in Congress to place a vacation mandate upon businesses. In recent sessions, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has introduced a bill that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to guarantee most workers vacation time, but the legislation has gone nowhere.

Under Grayson's proposal, companies with at least 100 employees would be required to provide a week's vacation to full-time workers as well as part-time workers who have been employed for a year and log at least 25 hours a week. After three years, those companies would be required to offer two weeks of vacation to workers, while companies with at least 50 employees would be required to offer one week.

Grayson's bill likely has no chance of passing the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, where Republicans are loath to place any mandates upon the business community. And while many lawmakers are willing to back paid sick leave, not a single one of Grayson's Democratic colleagues has signed on as a co-sponsor to his vacation bill.

"We're really hurting ourselves, and specifically we're hurting the most vulnerable among us," Grayson told HuffPost last year, noting that low-wage workers are disproportionately without vacation time. "If every other advanced country can do this, so can we."

A HuffPost/YouGov poll from last year found nearly as much support among the general public for a paid sick leave mandate for employers. Seventy-four percent of respondents to that poll said that companies should be required to provide sick days to workers, while only 18 percent said they shouldn't. In recent years many U.S. cities have passed legislation that guarantees workers a certain amount of accrued paid sick leave, often over the strong opposition of business lobbies.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 26-28 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.



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