American workers are exhausted. Europeans and Australians enjoy four weeks of vacation mandated by their governments. In the United States, the average worker receives an average of eight days of vacation – a little over a week. Globalization and technology have made working 9 to 5 obsolete and result in longer hours and more days worked. In this type of hyper-competitive atmosphere, workers need to be protected – and this means making vacation time mandatory.
Well rested workers will increase productivity, create safer working conditions, lower stress related illness, and allow workers to send more time with their families. In our plan to mandate three weeks of vacation for every full-time worker in the U.S., small businesses will be eligible for tax cuts and subsidies to help pay for their workers to take time off. Workers will be encouraged to take the time off – but if they do not, they will be compensated for any vacation time leftover at the end of each year.
Maternity & Paternity Leave
There’s a lot of talk in America about valuing the family – but little action. Just like we lag behind the rest of the industrialized world in vacation time, we fall far short in providing time off for new parents.
In fact, there is no requirement in the United States for paid maternity (never mind paternity) leave of any kind. According to a recent study at Harvard University, out of 168 countries in the world, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave. The U.S. enjoys the company of Swaziland, Lesotho, and Papua New Guinea as the only nations in the study that did not.
Industrial nations are unusually generous (or realistic) when it comes to advocating for parents to be with their children. Canadian women enjoy 14 months of paid maternity leave and in Sweden couples get 16 months of paid parental leave (at 80 percent of salary), according to a recent article in U.S. Today.
If the U.S. is serious about being family first – then we need to start with maternity and paternity leaves. Six weeks is hardly adequate for mothers, but it’s a starting point. This benefit (and the two weeks of paternity leave) will be compensated directly by the government at full pay. Companies will have the option to extend the benefit, of course. Under the plan, the amount of time will be reviewed for an increase every two years.
The average length of time it takes for an unemployed worker in 2005 to find a job is about 20 weeks. Unemployment benefits in the U.S. last an average of 24 weeks and that’s cutting it much too close – especially when you consider older workers who have a more difficult time finding work.
It’s a ridiculous notion that you can lose unemployment benefits while still actively looking for a job. Why do we want to burden workers with a ticking clock of anxiety as they search for a new job? Twelve months of full benefits is fair and allows people to adequate time to find a new job.
We want to make sure people don't fall into bankruptcy, enter into a spiral of debt, and lose their self-esteem like looking for work. Extended unemployment benefits ensure the dignity of all workers.StumbleUpon | Digg | del.icio.us | Reddit | Technorati | E-mail