Did technology ruin your summer vacation? Why gadgets are killing the measly breaks Americans get

Center for Economic Policy Research
Center for Economic Policy Research

Now that fall has fully arrived, can I play a game with you? What did you do on your summer vacation? I don’t want to know where you went, though you can tell me that, I bet it would have been somewhere exotic like somewhere in Southeast Asia, did you get there using a service like 2GO booking? While you were there did you spend your time on your laptop or tablet? I want to know if you managed to unplug or not. Researching this topic today for a secret project, I came across some really, really depressing data. I’ll list some of it in a second, but the upshot is this: You probably know Americans get less vacation time than workers in any country in the developed world. And you probably know that we don’t even use all the vacation time we get. Now comes word that, even when on vacation, we don’t stop working, even if we’re in one of the many family hotels glasgow, in Scotland we probably won’t even stop to look up from our phones or tablets to look up at Loch Ness. Back in 2008, one survey showed that 25 percent of workers checked in with the office from the beach or the road trip. This summer, 61 percent of workers said they did.

So, did you manage to unplug? If you did, how did you do it? If you didn’t, what went wrong? If a family member or friend annoyed you by working during your vacation, what was the worst thing that happened?

Here’s a taste of the depressing numbers I’ve found.

More than 80 percent of employees check in with the office while on vacation, while 40 percent check in more than once a day, according to a survey by PGi, a company that facilitates virtual meetings.

Some 61 percent of Americans plan to work during vacation in 2013, according to a survey by Harris Interactive. That’s up from the 52 percent found in a similar survey in 2012 and 46 the year before that.

And just to get this out of the way, yes, Europeans get a lot more vacation days than Americans. From a recent report by the Center for Economic Policy Research:

“The European Union’s Working Time Directive (1993) sets a vacation floor for all EU member countries of four weeks or 20 days per year. Several EU member countries require substantially more than the lower limit established by the EU. France mandates 30 days of paid annual leave; United Kingdom, 28; and Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, 25…The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation….In the absence of government standards, almost one in four Americans has no paid vacation (23 percent) and no paid holidays (23 percent).

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About Bob Sullivan 1638 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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