Should Mandatory Vacation Be a Wellness Trend?

Last updated September 6, 2023

What does America have against vacation, asks The Washington Post?

Americans are known for being ambitious, resilient, passionate and workaholics. Yet when it comes to the wellness benefits of vacation, Americans are missing out.

In fact, Americans receive fewer vacation days each year compared to other countries. And as a result, the wellness benefits of vacations other countries enjoy are far and few between.

Obviously, there are factors out of one’s control that prevent taking a breaksuch as a staff shortage or fear of asking for time offbut the benefits outweigh the stressors. And it’s high time that America steps up to the plate and is made a great vacation nation.

Mandatory Vacation Everywhere Else

When compared to other advanced nations, the U.S. clearly lags behind when it comes to paid vacation days. The U.S. is the only nation that does not have mandatory vacation required by law.

The overall average number of vacation days taken by Americans is roughly 15 days each year. This is notably less than the mandatory vacation days required by law in 19 other countries around the world. In Europe, mandatory vacation and paid holidays exceed 30 days a year in most countries. And even nations in Asia and the rest of North American value the benefits of vacation more than the U.S.

Do You Work to Live or Live to Work?

In the U.S., the lack of mandatory vacation stems from policies that place the responsibility of vacation determinations on employers. Most employers have failed to keep pace with the rest of the world in terms of paid vacation time.

Fortunately, this is changing as more and more companies are recognizing the health benefits of vacation.

Wellness trends show that luxury sabbaticals and employee wellness retreats are on the rise. While Europe and other countries have realized this for years, U.S. employers have been slow to come around. This combined with the strong American work ethic has hindered the adoption of mandatory vacation policies. 

The Power of Time Off

In terms of the benefits of vacation, research reveals a variety of wellness advantages.

A wellness vacation has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as heart attacks. Likewise, reduced stress, anxiety and depression are also benefits of vacation that have been supported by science.

Other positive effects that vacation awards include better sleep, improved levels of energy, and enhanced self-esteem and happiness. And as an argument for mandatory vacation, employers can expect increased performance and productivity from employees enjoying vacation. 

A Wellness Trend that Deserves Consideration

Given the benefits of vacation, it seems like a no-brainer that companies and countries would embrace a mandatory vacation policy.

New York is considering such a change within its state to boost wellness and worker protections. If this legislation passes, then New York will be the first state in the U.S. to achieve such a feat. In turn, hopefully, other states and perhaps the entire nation will formally recognize the benefits of vacation.

This is certainly one wellness trend that should be considered in the U.S. just as it is already abroad. 

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