Here in Europe the only people I know that dare to have any contact with their company during vacations are usually labeled as workaholic.
We appreciate our 22-30 days vacations, without any contact with the employer while enjoying friends and family.
I am not saying whats wrong or right, but I know my friends back in Europe think its crazy to work such a long time.
Usually people have more heroic visions of their person and possibly this is where the honor and pride narratives stem from, such as "I pulled a 10th all-niter in a row ant helped the company make 0.1% more in profits" or "I can't betray my employer".
Another factor is that with a work schedule like that there is simply no time for a person to look for and apply for other positions, so suddenly quitting is a much harder decision to make without a fallback plan.
There are four options I can think of:
1. You are a bonafide superstar and manage to switch into a solid company (my boss when I was in Japan managed to do this).
2. You become a contract worker.
3. You go to a smaller (less prestigious, usually lower pay, less stable) company.
4. You go to a "foreign national" company (European/American companies' Tokyo office)
Sadly for many japanese, they see suicide as an easier out than trying to find a new job. Long hours and no vacation also clearly lead to depression. I'd rather see my gf drop down to a part-time job (baito) than give up completely.
The truth is that there are no laws or contracts preventing companies from laying off its workers en masse, yet the individual deludes himself into thinking that there is some concrete social contract exists. The thing is, when the economy was growing at 5% a year, companies could uphold this (ephemeral) social contract by employing people for a lifetime and guaranteeing a great pension.
I personally know CEOs of smaller companies in Japan who vowed to not lay off a single person during the tough times of 2008-2010. The C-suite guys took zero salary for at least 2008, and all other employees took a temporary 30% pay cut. However, this is not the norm. While outright firings may be more rare, things go on underneath the surface. Fulltime employment slots replaced with contract workers in factories, significant amounts of employment moving overseas to SE Asia, etc.
Layoffs aren't as common as the US, but that's actually not necessarily a good thing. Hiring of new grads has gone down significantly (the last graduating class with decent job prospects was the class of 2008), while the older workers (even those who underperform) are kept on board. Like kalleboo says, Japan is about "family". They are kind towards members of their family, and strikingly cold to those who are not. Those who are part of the company are "family", and are protected. New grads who cannot find work are not part of the family, and don't receive the same empathy. Even those who can find work, even at the best and brightest companies, are faced with a situation where their lifetime earnings will be significantly lower than those of the boomers. (on the order of $2.5MM vs $3~4MM lifetime)
There are no good figures about the employment rate of college graduates, but if you discount students who have gone onto become 'part time / contract' workers, the employment rate may be around 60%. (The problem is that all the stats are wildly skewed - for instance, employment rates that include 'underemployed' new grads, or only counting graduates from mid-tier colleges and above) No one really knows how bad the true youth unemployment situation is in Japan.
College students are very risk averse, particularly in the turmoil following the financial crisis. I recall that a poll among college students back in 2011 declared that they wanted to become public workers above all other options (public workers cannot be fired, afaik).
Japan's leaders are very talented at keeping a sinking ship afloat. But they can't avoid the inevitable. Like the country's debt problem, there will come a moment when things catastrophically implode.
If you're based in Tokyo, switching jobs is much easier because (a) there are a lot of companies in general there, (b) the culture of the companies are a little more westernized than the rest of the country, and (c) you have the option of going to a foreign national company.
Sadly, my girlfriend lives in Kagoshima, at the ass-end of backwardness. Convincing her parents that I'm not going to murder their daughter is going to be hard enough! (Japanese news media's treatment of foreigners is rivaled only by Fox News I think). As a white, european male, it's been enlightening being at this end of racism.
Kagoshima is so close to Okinawa, that I imagine there is some cultural undertones that have permeated from the controversies regarding the US Army's isolated (but still brutal) incidences of poor behavior. (iirc they were the subject of the relocation of the Futenma base as well?)
Kyuushuu people are pretty oldschool from what I understand. At least you're caucasian though, you would be truly doomed if you were non-Japanese & non-White. At least they treat you as if you're going to murder their daughter, rather than treating you as an untouchable :(
Because you don't doesn't mean it's wrong, stupid, or pointless.
For example - if she does work like a demon for 10 years, gets the promotions, will she be in tenure, exceptionally well paid etc. If so it may be a rational decision.
When I lived in Japan, I stayed with the head of Korean Air for Japan and with a mid-level engineer at Mazda.
The Mazda engineer left the house at 6 AM and got back at 7 PM or so.
The executive left the house at 10 AM and got back at 5 PM.
When I asked the executive about it, he told me that he had to come late and leave early so his entire staff could leave at a reasonable hour. It cascades - it never looks good if your superior is at work when you're not, so you make sure you get in before him and leave after him. The lower you are, the longer you're at work.
As an employee in Japan I wouldn't want to survive.
In Japan employers cannot refuse requested holidays unless it would damage the business (for low ranked people with no authority, this is not a problem). It is the peer pressure and subtle bullying in traditional organizations that keeps people from taking holidays.
I mean... that sounds just about as bad as actual slavery, but with the disadvantage that you still have to make ends meet.
And the other thing I keep hearing about that situation is that it has nothing to do with actually getting the work done, it's just to show that you're committed. And I think committed is the right word because that concept is CRAZY.
> high paid salary employee with a few weeks vacation
> a year
10 days of vacation equates to 2 weeks of vacation time, but from what I understand, working long hours and on the weekends is an implicit requirement of many (most?) jobs in Japan. So even getting the weekend off during that '10 days of vacation' could be problematic.
Sure, it's definitely not slavery, but it sure seems highly exploitative.
Materially, in the US slaves often had higher material 'quality of life' than northern (free) factory workers. They had a better diet, lower pollution, better housing, and more time off. The plantation owners effectively viewed them as an investment. Really, if you want to talk about underpaid and overworked, a more apt comparison would be factory and mine workers in the 18th century.
The horror of slavery was that you had no choice in life. Who cares if you are fed well if someone else can decide to split your family up. Someone can kidnap you, drag you across an ocean (where you have a high chance of dieing) and put you in a country where you can't speak the language. Someone else can decide to move you to a new home. Someone else can decide whether or not you are allowed to read. Someone else can legally beat you.
The Japanese salaryman/women can quit her job if they want to. If they don't, that is their choice, but it is a choice. That is a massive difference. Any comparison between the two really papers over the horror of slavery. Much like any Nazi comparison, it drags the quality of the discussion down.
Sure, it's definitely not slavery, but it sure seems
The salaryman can quit. A slave couldn't.
To run with the slave analogy, it would be like a slave being able to choose their master, but all masters beat/rape their slaves.
Your argument is all just semantics. Fine, slaves had no choice, and a large segment of Japanese (and other) society have no meaningful choice. Happy?
Slavery is a concept, anyway. You don't have to pedantically compare every single use of the word to some pet historical incident. I think it's entirely reasonable to compare sections of the working class's lives to slavery, and your attempts to "ban" the whole topic are really misguided and inappropriate, IMO.
I'm willing to say it. That's wrong.
"ahh...that vacation really rested the milk cows. Oh!...my crops are dead :( "
As European I really enjoy long vacations and use them for personal development. I guess I could still do that in Japan without long vacations but I guess I would need to do that on time of company.
So in other words, you'd need more than 10 days of vacation.
I don't think expectations are important at all here. When vacation time is established at national, cultural levels, the expectations of the population will reflect that.
That sense of entitlement and cushy job seems to prevent people from taking risks. They'd rather just coast.
As far as innovations go, you should go look at the demoscene and a lot of the goofy but useful JS libraries to come out (say, three.js which I believe is Spanish in origin). So, again, I'm not sure where you get that from.
That sense of entitlement and cushy job seems to prevent
people from taking risks. They'd rather just coast.
Why do you seem to be implying that there is a moral highground to more strenuous and miserable work?
I can only speak for the UK (and lumping all of Europe together is pretty foolish given that it has a range of countries from borderline 3rd world to international superpowers) but in London the tech scene is very much alive and well. I myself work for a middle aged startup (going through some horrible growing pains just now), I love to get involved in the London tech scene and I've talked with plenty of people doing well from startups.
PS: Per person the US government spends as much on healthcare as many countries with 'national' healthcare so we are paying for it even if we don't have universal healthcare.
PS: As a sanity check. Federal (24.33 GDP -3.72%GDP given to the sates) State spending is 8.97% of GDP, local 10.69%, which adds up to 40.27% GDP. Note: Actual revenue is only 32.61% GDP because we are just borrowing that much money but debt does get paid back one way or another. http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/year_revenue_2012USpn_13p...
What? Citation needed? In some countries they give money to startups, not the other way around.
And how you you explain "high tax rates" when Barack Obama refers to some countries in the EU as a tax haven?
Israel has more startups per capita than any country in the world, but has socialized working laws. The legal minimum is 10 (I think), the exact amount for engineers varies from company to company, but it's usually at least 15-18 days of paid vacation per year with some of the bigger employers offering 20-30. We also get 3 months maternity leave, several months of unemployment, etc. Not as good as France or Holland, but much better than the US.
I'd say the approach of the US with regards to anything social can work against risk taking. e.g. Healthcare.
It's much easier to take risks when you have a social safety net.
At some point that also has to be accounted for when taking into account a country's economic conditions.
Western europe has used its economic prosperity to get more vacation days over the years, maternity leave, free education and other social goods. While in the US it seems to work in the exact opposite direction.
The extreme case is France, where they seem to be on constant vacation (>60 days!), get free university education, excellent free healthcare and all the good wine to the great dismay of the Chicago school economists that keep predicting its imminent collapse year after year.
Israel's history is also a counterexample, as it was very poor in its early years (1948 - 1980s) and much more socialistic than it is today. Surely Israel can afford MORE vacation days and other social benefits today than it could 40 years ago. But the trend is exactly the opposite. Unfortunately we have a US educated prime minister.
About the magnitude of US foreign aid to Israel and its role in the economy, here are some numbers:
Total US foreign aid to Israel: about 3$ billion / year. 
Total israeli budget: about 100$ billion / year. 
Even though this is serious money, canceling the US foreign aid would not make a huge dent in Israel's budget. e.g. 3$ billion can be taxed by increasing the VAT from 16% to 18.8%. 
In addition to that, as someone who watched how this foreign aid budget is spent in the military, one dollar of foreign aid is worth MUCH LESS than one real dollar. Since goods must be bought from a specific purchasing catalogue, and this catalogue is both limited and has highly inflated prices. e.g. more than 2500$ for a standard IBM desktop PC.
I think this follows partly from the requirement that at least 50% of the manufactured goods must be made in the US. So many products are made in China, then shipped to the US for repackaging (where their price is doubled) and then shipped back to Israel.
Note also that a large part of US foreign aid goes to purchasing very expensive fighter jets (F-15, F-16) and spare parts. A hugely important goal of the Israeli air force is to have more F-16 planes than the egyptians have. But the Egyptians also get their aircraft from US foreign aid. My interpretation of this state of affairs is that main reason congress is backing both sides of this arms race is in order to take taxpayer money and give it to the military-industrial complex.
 (sorry, hebrew only) http://budget.msh.gov.il/#00,2012,0,1,1,1,0,0,0,0,0,0
Update: Sorry, 3% of budget.
It's less than 3% of GDP, but still a lot.
Israel's GDP is around 250$ billion. So US foreign aid is around 1.2% of GDP.
However, as I mentioned in the previous post, this aid does not come in the form of actual dollars but in the ability to purchase goods with highly inflated prices and some strings attached. I'm pretty sure Israel would happily trade 3$ billion of US foreign aid with 1$ billion of actual money.
re: vacation days & prosperous countries -- no, I don't believe the two go hand in hand (poor folk get all kinds of vacation days in the form of funemployment), nor would I consider the U.S. on average a 'prosperous' nation, I'm merely stating that had the U.S. suddenly had outside funding for it's military for the past ~$x years there'd be far more liquidity to spend on other things like one month vacations for everyone.
When you take the prior obligations of Social Security, etc. the budget gets much smaller.
Can we please take this tired, idiotic old meme out back and put a few rounds in it?
The difference between the US & Europe appears to be Silicon Valley, not a sense of entitlement and cushy job.
So I imagine it hinders people from creating startups, but at the same time it helps hire people into them.
[Qualifier: I am a European now living in North America]
It found US and Australian workers get 10 public holidays, Canadians nine, Chinese 11 and Japanese 15. However, there are regional variations in many of these countries and employment laws differ as to whether workers should be paid for these holidays.
We have 25 days of paid vacation. You can work while at home or on vacation, but your co-workers might not appreciate it. Taking leave for doctor visits, weddings, relocations, funerals, etc. does not count towards that.
Also, our stores are closed on Sundays, which encourages spending time with friends and family.
I don't love Austria, but a few things here I find allright.
Lots of other things not to love about Austria (mobthink, Austro-fascism, the horrid city of Vienna, &etc), but the vacation policies are a dream.
Where do I read more about these things that are wrong with Austria?
If you're in a circle of cool people, Vienna is probably one of the nicer capitols to live in. And as a country-bumpkin I find it a lot less mentally taxing than let's say London or Berlin.
I'm a huge non-fan of all these buildings glommed together, 5 or 6 stories high, and I find it oppressive, personally.
By my reckoning, Vienna is an Imperial Fortress with working-class box-traps being used as buttresses around the center. I wouldn't call it beautiful by any stretch of the word - oppressively architected inventory of the masses does not a beautiful city make.
But hey, to each their own. If you find it beautiful, more power to you. I can't stand Vienna, personally, and am glad I live outside the city border near Bisamberg ..
But the things you describe are something that many big cities have in common. It makes me wonder if you've ever been to a city with a somewhat dense population that you enjoyed being in.
And, 15 years in Los Angeles - well, I love LA. To each his own. ;)
You've actually made me want to check out LA sometime soon.
Maybe the problem is a cultural fit, or high expectations from California, but not the city hopefully?
Edit: here in Uruguay we have almost 14 salaries as well: 1/2 a salary in June, 1/2 a salary in December, and 20 days paid vacation (almost a full salary)
And I loved Vienna, when I stayed there for few days year ago.
So what do those days come out of? Here in the US, that comes out of my vacation time.
As for funerals in particular, I haven't run in to this situation, so I don't know what I would be doing.
The vacation days are what you should be using for stuff like doctor's visits and sickness. The sick days are to be kept forever...or an actual vacation. Normally on termination you get reimbursed for sick days. The vacation days are gone however.
In the case of a funeral...that is a vacation!
Vacation is usually paid out, sick time expires.
Also, many employers require vacation be scheduled in advance, while sick can be on-demand.
In Sweden, you accrue vacation pay as you work, and when you take your vacation, it's paid out and because of some law or other, it's larger than your regular monthly paycheck. So in essence you get a little bonus for having your paid vacation, same as a bunch of other countries that people have brought up in this thread.
However, if you're paid by the hour, it works exactly like you suggest. You don't accrue vacation pay or vacation days, and x% of your hourly pay is the included extra vacation pay which you just get straight up.
When you negotiate a monthly salary, the number is without the extra vacation pay, but when you negotiate an hourly salary it's with the extra vacation pay. Because, it's just the way it is. :-)
But paying out once a year is the legal minimum, you can agree otherwise. At my previous job, we switched to twice a year at the request of the snowboarders that needed the money for the winter vacation...
Norway has a similar thing, in that 10%+ of your salary gets paid out in a lump sum before the summer holidays, and the tax deducted in December is half what it is in the other months. But it's all just an adjustment in how salaries are paid out and when the tax is paid, so you end up with exactly the same total amount.
Of course either way, employers factor it in.
France has a slightly different concept (which is not universal by a long shot, but it's almost universal in some work domains) of 13th and (rarely) 14th months. Which are exactly what it says on the tin: you get 1 or 2 extra months of salary per year.
You can learn more of this here:
Also, in Argentina, the norm is that you have 15 days of vacation when you start working for a company. After 5 years, you have 21 days, then after 10 years, 28. Finally, after 20 years in the same company, you get 35 days. Most probably, the ones getting 35 days work in banks, state owned companies or public service.
Right now, my boss and the 3 "senior" analysts are all on vacation... they aren't really missed. Reminds me of the cannibals joke ( http://www.guy-sports.com/months/jokes_silly_puns.htm ).
Of course you are still richer than us (so maybe you should stop complaining?). BTW how do you feel about Estonia helping you? Overall looking from our side it looks like that a lot of wrong decisions have been made in Greece but you have made good choices recently. I think you will get better in the future. I doubt that something like that will happen in other EU countries.
It would be very useful to see the diff
* Corruption level here and in Greece is quite similar in my opinion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index . I think in recent years we got better but still far from perfect.
* We don't have Euro but we are pegged to Euro (de facto fluctuation 0%). IMHO in this regard we are similar to Greece - while we have freedom to change rate we have not used it.
* Both countries were not prepared for crisis if we compare them to Estonia as example.
In some aspects we were in very similar situation. Now what's different in my opinion: Austerity measures in Lithuania were very strict. We had so called "Reforms night" there our newly elected parliament made a lot of unpopular decisions (e.g. salaries decreased in public sector) and actually some of them of questionable long-term value while good in short-term (e.g. they cut payments for private pension funds what saved money in short-term but I have no idea what will happen in the future). Meanwhile in Greece it was really hard to do anything like that because everything they did was met with big opposition from society. As well little details like very early pension in Greece is not helping either. We had big buffer to go in debt without facing serious problem when borrowing money. Lastly we are still quite poor country and it is barely could be worse than it is sometimes :-) Greece is quite rich country.
As for your last statement, we’re a rich country because we didn’t embrace communism as you guys did.
You are right about communism being the reason why you are rich and we are not but there was no choice for us (foreign army in our territory and we erased from map as independent country) so "embrace" is wrong word.
I don’t know if you heard lately about the Barclays scandal. Seems like we don’t have the monopoly of corruption after all. Even the almighty Brits fucked it up big time. Hoorah!
Besides, Britain is not falling apart because of the Barclays scandal, and unlike Greece, it isn't the entire country that is in on the scam.
Because I am moving to germany if I get to not work for two months.
EDIT: The fact that we could print money to get out of debt if we needed to is a big part of why we don't need to, though.
1. Delete all mail
2. If it was important, they will contact you again.
I'm getting 35.5 total which is reasonably uncommon but not unheard of.
Although paid paid holiday does sound pretty fantastic.
I know I could disconnect/drop off the grid in my free time, but I'm addicted. And what's the incentive to do so?
If, on the other hand, someone pays me good money for the promise of staying offline for 2 weeks: That sounds like a sweet deal to me, Europe or not.
Not in any company I've worked for. You're expected to answer emails, phone calls, etc. whilst on holiday. I used to follow along with this but now fight back by simply not taking my phone, laptop, or checking any emails but it's always frowned upon. Then again, it's not like they can sack me for it.
28 days paid vacation + Christmas Eve + New Years Eve + all national holidays (Christmas, Easter... ca. 10).
AFAIK 24 days are the minimum in Germany (cf. §3 BUrlG).
Don't get me wrong - I love the flexibility and freedom, but can somebody familiar weigh in? What is considered 'acceptable' or 'standard' for employees at early stage startups with 'unlimited time off'?
Edit: The company is YC backed and the founders are regular HN readers. Maybe they'll weigh in :) ... or weird vibes at the office tomorrow.
It's nice to say "you can take time off whenever you feel you should", but in reality it's extremely difficult to create a culture where this is actually respected.
I'd actually rather have the policy of "X weeks, but we're not actually looking that hard". That way I don't have to plan things down to the very last day, and rest easy knowing there some give, but also still feel entitled to take what's mine.
In the case of my company, which also has unlimited time off, there is this same pattern of engineers that do not want to take vacation. Managers encourage (gently force?) people to take time off that are not taking at least a few weeks a year off on their own. The actual range of vacation taken at my company seems to be from about two weeks (that would be me) to about six weeks.
There's a bit of a meta-meme right now of "No managers!" which is pushback against "Command and Control" - which I whole-heartedly agree with. However, for hard-working "Type A" sorts of programmers, it's easy to get so focused that you don't take care of yourself, even as a responsible adult.
I view my job as a gardener - tending to the care and feeding of folks that work with me. Every now and again a person needs a mental "weeding", and so a vacation is needed. :D
Below that there is an addendum, however, "We expect people will probably take around 5 weeks off per year". This isn't set up as a maximum, rather it is set up as a way to provide that sort've benchmark for people to know whats acceptable. However, no one here is counting... seriously.
Possibly slightly off topic..
I work at a UK startup-going-on-teenager. A few months I had an amazing opportunity to transport a 50m ex-minesweeper from Holland to Turkey, I booked off 3 weeks and came back 2 months later not expecting a job anymore. When I finally did get back, they were actually really forgiving and keen to get me back in to the office; I'm not sure if they need me in order to help support their planned growth, or because they are genuinely very laid back, other factors suggest the first.
First 2 weeks being back were great, but once the novelty and the story telling had worn off and the day to day grind set back in I have experienced a great deal of resentment to the structure of the company; I think that being exposed to a great deal of personal freedom will break down any barriers that have been built and cause issues when you do finally go back.
In my second company, people take what they need and my boss told me not to contact him unless it was an emergency. I loved it. Set the cultural cue for me on how he perceived vacation time. People seem to take what they need. The CEO encouraged people to take advantage of our ski passes this past season during snow storms.
Bottom line: Management sets the cues and cultural norms. People practice what they see when there aren't official guidelines.
IIRC when people try 'price your own meal' they invariably end up taking more money than when they charge the set price as per menu.
It wouldn't surprise me to know that 'unlimited time off' actually means less time is taken, for the simple reason that if you're told '2 weeks' then that's what you work towards, conciously or not.
Also worth mentioning, I'm usually somewhat available during vacations if something comes up - for example, I spent Christmas eve debugging a couple of years ago.
Here in the UK people get a minimum of 28 days per year off work (including bank holidays). At Mandalorian we do 30 days a year plus 1 extra day per year of service. Most people at Mandalorian don't use all the allowance (mainly because we're results oriented so people routinely check out during the day to drop kids off at school, pick them up etc.), but seem to be comfortable with the fact that they can take time off when they need/want to.
When people go on holiday, they generally disconnect here although some people will take phones etc. I've just come back from 8 days on a remote island in the sea of Marmara with a couple of days in Istanbul and my total contact with work (as the owner) was two text messages and one email on the way to the airport.
I have American friends who tell me that when they go on holiday they have to take their laptops and phones with them, and routinely take calls and do conference calls during their holiday, which sounds insane to me but each culture has it's own nuances.
If this is doing something good for American workers then I'm all for it, but I can't help but think that if I were in their shoes I'd say keep the $7,500 and double the holiday allowance.
EDIT: Thanks to willholley below for pointing out that the minimum entitlement includes bank holidays, as seen here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/employment/employees/timeoffandh...
The change in the law to increase the minimum to 28 days inclusive of bank holidays was relatively non-controversial as it affected a relatively small proportion of businesses.
If an employee's contract says they don't work bank holidays then those days are considered part of that employee's 28 day statutory minimum. If they do work bank holidays, or their contract is silent on the subject, then the employee still has a 28 day allowance but it doesn't include the bank holidays.
Also, some parts of the UK have more than 8 public holidays per year.
If I travel for more than two weeks (my family road trips across the country each year), I do take my laptop, but only to work remotely between destinations. By "sneaking" in a few days of work here and there (like when stopping in to visit family), I can extend our trip.
My impression at other companies with less generous vacation policies is that many "rank and file" employees do disconnect during their shorter trips, but management generally doesn't leave the laptop/phone at home.
He commented that in the USA hs staff spent far more time gossiping around the water cooler and taking unofficial long weekends to go skiing etc
And BT has more holiday than the average in the UK - from the civil service days.
Much like turning off the TV, I suspect that if you do get a 2 month sabbatical, you'll find out that most of the new developments are overstated and that you'll be able to quickly catch up.
It's a nice thought, but I'd rather my employer (and my girlfriend's employer) just pay top dollar and let us figure out our own vacation plans.
By forcing me to only get the money if I use it for vacation, I will have a better time, and I will relax more, both of which will improve my stress levels, etc. Also, the fact that they are pushing this into their culture shows that they truly value some sense of work/life balance, which is a big turn on for a company. So many companies say they want work/life balance, then you see that working <60hr weeks is seen as not pulling your weight.
People hated it. They resented being told how they had to spend their time off. Some just wanted to veg at home or visit family or do any number of other activities. They didn't want to be forced to go some place that the company would spend $7500 on and they felt that those who did go were getting a $7.5k bonus that they weren't
That's partially because us Europeans can't really understand how you can get by with little to no holidays. It'd be like an American talking to a Soviet person (back in the day) and being suprised that they were OK with no voting and secret police.
I remember reading an article by Jerzy Urban (a propaganda minister in the soviet-appointed government in Poland, famous for his vicious defense of socialism) in which he argued that while it's true that people in the western countries have a bit more political freedoms, for an average person that matters very little. An average person spends most of their time at work, where people in capitalist countries have vastly less freedom than in socialist countries (he actually mentioned that in western countries, getting drunk at work is a firing offense, whereas in the People's Republic of Poland it was pretty common practice; I'm not making this up.) Therefore, according to Jerzy Urban, people in the socialist countries in reality had at least as much if not more freedom overall.
But on the flip side, the European vacation schedule can be destructive. I've worked with an Italian company that was trying to expand their market into the US., and the 6 week summer vacation literally sank any chance of their entrance. They invested millions of dollars, hired a bunch of people in the US (and didn't give the US employees similar vacation to their Italian ones), and were really rolling. In the spring they signed a couple million dollars in deals with distributors. Then July/August rolled around and the parent company went entirely on vacation. You couldn't even get the CEO. Phone calls went unanswered. Orders went unfilled. That literally sank their entrance to the market. A year later, they are effectively done and have lost all of their investment. No one will buy from them.
Imagine trying to compete with an American startup company but taking 6 weeks off completely. What happens during that time? I'm all for individual employees taking vacation to avoid burn out - honestly right now I could go for a week off - but shutting down the entire company for multiple weeks in a row puts you at a huge disadvantage. China, Japan, the US, and the BRICS aren't taking 6 week vacations. I don't care how efficient you are, if your company shuts down while your competitors keep rolling, it is unlikely that you will succeed in any competitive markets.
However, if you set the X% relatively high (e.g. 40%) then you still have the problem that the whole department might not function that well any more during this time.
If you set it very low on the other hand (e.g. 10%) then many people won't be able to take their vacation during the summer months and they will be pissed.
Sure, there's a way to find a middle ground that works out somehow, but still the original problem isn't completely solved.
Meanwhile, France (along with Germany (with 30 days holidays!)) are bailing out the rest of Europe...
We're talking about the difference between 2-3 & 5-6 weeks of vacation, not a radically different approach to governance and civil liberties.
These laws in EU are legal minimum, so they aren't going away. I, as an employee, don't have to worry about a new management team or buy out or poor annual return which results in the company cancelling all paid leave, because the companies in the EU cannot make that sacrifice.
Enumerating relatively minor differences between democratic capitalist countries doesn't make your "Soviet Union" analogy any more appropriate.
>> There's also at-will employment in the USA (used by Zynga recently to screw employees out stock options), and lack of employee discrimination (AFAIK it's not illegal in US to fire someone for being gay or trans, while it is in EU).
As seen in Spain, guaranteed / tenured employment is not all sunshine and roses. Even prior to the most recent economic troubles, younger employees were vastly over-represented among those with short term contracts. Likewise in France.
For reference, sexual identity and gender orientation are protected (or not) at the state level :
In finance you get 8 market holidays a year. The federal government has 10. On top of that, most white collar employees get 2 weeks of vacation their first year. After a year or two it's pretty standard to take 3-4.
There is no greater joy in life than watching things that you make come to life with your mind and with your hands. It's one thing I love about brewing, cooking, gardening, and programming. That isn't so great when you work for someone else, but one thing vacations can give people with a creative drive is a chance to create their own things.
So I guess one thing I would caution about is that it might be worth pointing out that IP assignment clauses shouldn't reach vacation time either.
It's often called the "13th and 14th month of pay".
Come work in Europe ;-)
The companies I've worked for offer neither of these payments, so you're getting 12 salaries. Of course my exposure is limited to tech companies and small one at that, but for me these 13th or 14th salaries are unavailable, that is only present in big corporations or interestingly for non-academic jobs (i.e. metal work shops I know do pay these, so do some construction companies). IT? Nope.
Does austrian vacation bonus pay have to be spent on a vacation?
I think the idea of restricting the spending of holiday money to holidays only is difficult to execute in most organisations.
It means for example, that with the about 11 holidays + WE + 30 paid holidays + 10 days from the year before, you can get a year with 51 days "unconnected".
I was shocked last year when I came back from a couple of weeks abroad to discover that the very first Architectural decision we had made on a project seemed blatantly off. Turns out it was - no one had considered questioning an implicit assumption - no one (especially me whose job it was) had even caught the assumption.
Saved us at least 3 iterations when we fixed it.
See http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urlaubsgeld (use google/chrome translation).
Not everyone gets it, it usually depends on your (or your union's) salary negotiations with the employers.
While the Vacation Money is typically paid in June for the summer vacation, many companies also offer another an extra salary (or only a certain percentage of your regular monthly salary) in December for your christmas expenses.
That's only true if their base salary/bonuses are $7500 below market, which I doubt is the case.
I'm not being pedantic and missing the point that you mean 'market average', because employment is not commodity purchase - so market average isn't meaningful unless you're painting with very, very broad strokes.
If you're planning on flying somewhere not near by (ie: going to another continent, far away islands, etc), plane tickets alone could cost $1k to $2k. 1 or 2 weeks in nice hotel / condo will be another $1k to $2k. Eating, activities, rental car quickly spend yet another $2k to $3k over 2 weeks.
There are some exceptions to this (pensions mainly) but I don't think it's for a company to say how someone should spend their time off or their money and effectively penalise them if it's not in the prescribed manner.
Yes holidays are good for relieving stress but so is paying down a mortgage or paying of debt for instance. What is best for the individual is probably best decided by the individual.
Although maybe there should be some research. If more pay automatically makes people go to the gym more often, maybe it would be ok...
I find vacations sometimes interesting and educational (see other societies, etc.), but not generally relaxing. To me, packing, flying places, and living in hotels is a bit stressful. To some extent, it actually makes me feel more busy, because it's one more thing, along with work, that gets in the way of me spending more time on the local stuff I'd like to spend more time on.
Or someone who wants to spend their holiday time with an old or terminally ill relative (which was my situation a few years back)?
Or what if someone just enjoys taking time off to do something entirely different but at home - say DIY or some other hobby? Why should they be penalised because their idea of a holiday is different?
Actually happiness research seems to indicate that spending money on experiences rather than stuff (for example) is a good idea. But I am not sure if it follows that it still works if you make people spend on experiences instead of stuff.
It doesn't sound like FullContact requires you to use the money in any particular way, they just won't give it to you unless you take a "vacation" (where vacation may be staying at home working on your hobby).
More like "Here's $7500 for not showing up to work for the next week," not "Here's $7500 that you can only use on a preselected and approved subset of suitably frivolous and relaxing activities". I'd be very against the latter, too.
Point is about eliminating single point of failure situations, e.g. only one guy knows how to handle really important client..
That should never happen, and by paying an extra buck, and forcing you to be detached from work they are giving you incentive to build fallback measures, write better docs etc.
My Dad always tells the story of having a battle every year to get one of the people that worked for him to take her vacation. She was entitled to 3 weeks, and typically took 2-3 days. It wasn't healthy, and it wasn't necessary for her to make that sacrifice. Some people have trouble just letting go.
"You can generally deduct a bonus paid to an employee if you intended the bonus as additional pay for services, not as a gift, and the services were performed. However, the total bonuses, salaries, and other pay must be reasonable for the services performed."
You could try to shoehorn this as vacation pay, but an auditor would question why workers are getting effectively a significant bonus for time not worked.
Any employee who elects not to take a vacation would have a pretty good case to demand the vacation pay anyhow, since he performed more services than other bonus-receiving workers.
For the curious, here are some pics: http://team.wingify.com/thailand-trip-pictures
That can be okay, and sometimes even really great, with the right team, but it can also be boring to painful, with the wrong team. There seems to be this idea of 'cultural fit' whereby people that work together need to be able to be great friends outside of work. I mean, sometimes this works well, and sometimes it doesn't. Usually (but not always) it means your team won't be able to handle introverts or the socially unskilled quite as well. Depending on the crowd, this can also mean that you end up with something of a cultural monoculture, which, if nothing else, drives up costs and drives down average quality of your developers.
I mean, of the people I know, I probably mingle my work and my personal lives more than anyone else, but even for me? I act differently around people at work than I do around friends. There are certain... appearances that must be kept up, you know? and not all of us are extroverts.
And really? often the vacation I need most is a vacation from someone I work with. Sometimes, even someone else going on vacation improves things; I know there have been cases where I wasn't getting on with someone; they took a long vacation, and upon return we were able to make something of a fresh start, and ended up working together, I mean, not perfectly, but well enough.
Sure, maybe you aren't sitting around with laptops and whatnot, but I'm sure all sorts of work talk will pop up.
This reminds me of what one of my professors talked about recently: a skiing trip is great because you can enjoy yourself and talk about research on the ski lift. So taking your entire research group on a skiing trip would be a nice compromise between taking a break and having time to talk and think about what you're working on.
I actually think it sounds great. Partly because I love skiing and partly because I also love talking about CS.
I agree. I'm not against "team building" vacations, but I don't think they serve the same purpose as the vacation type being advocated in the article.
Firstly there is a worry about if your co-workers are competent enough to do take care of your time critical work in your absence, they may believe that they are but that is not necessarily true.
As an anecdote, I took a couple of days off a while ago. At the time I was away an urgent issue came up which required a small reconfiguration on the server.
Not wanting to bother me a co-worker attempted to resolve this himself. Unfortunately he did this in a rather hamfisted way by overriding a lot of stuff he didn't understand that I had done for security reasons.
Result, I come back to an inbox full of complaints about email no longer working. After some probeing I find that our server IP address is on several blacklists for sending spam. I then discover that the server has a rootkit on it.
This means that I have to work a large number of extra hours correcting this problem which more than nullifies the time I got off for vacation.
The result of this is that I actually feel less stressed on vacation if I have a smartphone for my work email with me and know that people don't worry about contacting me.
The other opposite problem is that perhaps your co-workers are competent and can take over your duties with no hiccup to the organisation, now suddenly you are stressed that management might not think that you justify your salary so well.
I'd rather get the money in salary and decide myself what to do with the money, without anyone dictating how to spend my free time. It is perfectly possible to disconnect and recharge spending one week slacking off and hanging around friends, just as much as a one month vacation.
Even if a good vacation is worth doing--and, I believe, it really is--there is still some guilt with "wasting" money on something that isn't obviously "productive". I rationally know that enjoying myself is not a waste of money, but that doesn't help deal with my inner biases! Now, I don't want to say you have to spend a lot of money to get a good vacation--you don't. But it does create more options, and some of the things I really love (like travelling to Europe) have fairly high barriers to entry.
So having somebody allocate the funds for me makes it much more likely that I'll spend them on something exciting and enjoy myself with it. I suspect the sort of people working at a company willing to pay you $7500 for a vacation don't need to worry about paying the bills too much, but there is still an incessant nagging to be economical.
I was actually originally thinking about this idea in a completely different context. There is a nice parallel between this and the sorts of prizes you get at hackathons (usually electronic gadgets): in a certain sense, that prize is worth more than its price because I would not have spent my own money to buy it. It's slightly weird logic, but I think it's accurate: there's a big psychological difference between opportunity cost and actual cost. Sure, I could have $500 instead of a tablet, but if I'm just going to win something, I'd rather it be the tablet.
In short: I think this scheme is a good way to overcome my innate resistance to spending money on things that seem to be a "waste", even if I would enjoy spending it that way and probably get higher utility than just by saving it.
For others, it might be hanging on the couch, eating Taco Bell and watching bad cable all week
Presumably they mean "disconnect" from the company rather than all people you know.
I agree with the idea of trying to avoid trivial things during vacation, but if a non-trivial or business-emergency occurred and I could be of use I would hope someone would get in contact with me to resolve it - even if that means interrupting my private-life to work. In my mind that is one of the key differences between a professional and a drone - the ability to be flexible - on the other hand a lot of places do not treat their workers as professionals and see them merely as drones, for those places I say unplug and do not look back.
Places that actually seriously care about emergencies (like the Nuclear Power Plant my dad works at) plan ahead to have people available when needed. For example having people take turns carrying a pager (this was before there were cell phones), on a known, planned schedule.
I'm one of the more senior people in my group at work, so when things go wrong I tend to get called to help fix them. This is annoying. It's not a sign of how wonderfully important I am. It's a sign that (1) I don't push back hard enough, and (2) my work is not considered important enough to rate a high bus factor.
But if you are in a business with others who can cover for you it's good practice in case tragedy strikes.
If the business can't survive without each member, that's a heck of a lot of risk. It's better to have someone else in the business able to resolve those emergencies than have no idea what to do when you fall off a building or get hit by a bus.
And if you are the CEO, think of that as training time for the the next guy.
I'm running my own business and I take off time whenever I want to. I'll probably take 40-50 days off this year. That being said, I absolutely hate being completely disconnected. I also don't like not giving great customer service for my products. I am perfectly happy to take the day off and then answer a few emails when I get home.
Not having that option for the last two weeks was actually annoying to me, and I enjoyed the vacation less as a result. Spending a few minutes here and there and then getting back to vacation to me is better than just being cut off for an extended period.
The new thing here is that you MUST spend the money for something fun. So it is more than just money. Its like a free lunch. They always taste better than the ones I have to pay for ;)
Every employer MUST deduct ~3% of every full time worker's pay and then give it to them at some point during the next year. Usually when that worker goes on Vacation.
I guess it would be easy to spend 7.5k, but I really would think twice before spending that much on holidays. On the other hand, if you only have one week per year, perhaps it comes naturally that you are willing to spend more.
My girlfriend and I spent a total of $3500 to go to Italy for 14 days. With $7500, we would have gotten better hotels (we did the hostel route) but it wouldn't have materially changed the trip. However of that $3500, almost $1500 was the airfare from New York to Milan. This is also a good example of the American vacation system screwing us, I would have stayed for 4-6 weeks if my job would have let me. 14 days was the maximum we could pull off, and my girlfriend's boss put her in as 'sick' for at least one day in there. I worked the day before we flew out and the day after we got home (as a jet lagged zombie) because I was out of vacation days.
I like the idea of the money though. Is working really that hard in America?
Where it may save money is with standing relationships with travel agents for favourable rates.
For example, you can send an employee on a company retreat pretax. How do you seperate a company retreat from an individual's vacation? It is a continuum where somewhere between those there is an answer where it is legal and illegal.
So all in all I basically got a week to spend time with my family.
Would kill for a policy like this.
That said, it is a good one.