Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How long has it been since you've taken a vacation? I don't mean using your vacation days when your children are sick because your own sick days have been all used up. I mean when have you taken a couple of weeks off to reconnect with your children, your spouse, or even yourself? Do you even have the what-used-to-be-standard 2 or 3 weeks per year of vacation time? Many employees find that they do not even get that benefit anymore. Of those that do, many are afraid to actually use that time...afraid that they will get too far behind at work or even that it will be seen as a sign of weakness and could put their job into jeopardy. Did you know that in Australia and Europe, 4-5 weeks of vacation time per year is mandated by law? Employees in Canada and Japan have 2 weeks by law. In the United States, there is no mandated minimum. It is estimated that in the U.S. vacation time is an average of 4 days per year. Is it any wonder that Americans seem to be chronically stressed?

A few months ago, I wrote about a campaign to return to the dinner table, which was sponsored by a group called Take Back Your Time. They are now attempting to launch a campaign to pass an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act called "The Minimum Leave Protection, Family Bonding and Personal Well-Being Act of 2007". If passed, this would

  • Protect you from having your vacation cut or eliminated by an employer

  • Protect you from chronically cancelled vacations

  • Protect you from losing vacation time when you change jobs. You will always get three weeks after a year at a job.

  • Protect you against retaliation for taking your vacation time, and end the fear of replacement, demotion, or lost promotions when you take all the time in your company policy.

  • Provide a pro rata share of the three-week vacation after three months until the one-year mark is reached. For example, after six months, you would get 1.5 weeks off.

If you are interested in helping with their campaign, here are some ways they suggest you get involved:

  1. Sign up to volunteer and be a volunteer coordinator in your community or state by emailing Executive Director Lisa Steubing (lisa@timeday.org) Provide as much information about yourself as you can--why you're interested; what kind of work you do; full contact information; whether you're willing to speak with the press or electronic media;

  2. Send them your stories about the struggle for vacation time. If you are willing to speak to the media. The media thrives on personal stories and they want to be able to offer some. Tell them if you don't get paid vacation or don't feel you can take it all. Tell them if your company is particularly good on this issue--they want to honor those companies that are. If you want to tell your story but don't want your name made public, let them know that too. All of your stories are important!

  3. Provide financial support. They need your time, but they also need money to run this campaign and keep Take Back Your Time afloat. Every dollar matters. They are seeking to raise $15,000 through this appeal. That's less than two dollars from each one of us. Please consider sending $25, $50 or even $100 or more. Also, please consider making a recurring donation, every little bit counts!

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