More vacation time ? A no-no in Switzerland

Spring arrived, so is too early to start thinking about vacation? Not if you live in Europe. The 4 weeks of paid holiday is one of the greatest perks about working abroad. Most European countries have statutory minimum of 25-30 days plus national holidays. Some countries, like France, even guarantee four weeks, plus an additional two weeks after the age of fifty. In every country in Europe, workers get 20 days and in some, like France and Finland, 30 days. Austria has the most vacation days with a statutory minimum 25 days, plus 13 days off for public holidays.

By law minimum number of vacation days in Switzerland is 20, but the alpine state also has 9 public holidays. Recently, the industrious Swiss voted down a bill to guarantee six weeks of vacation, because of the fear of losing their jobs and also because most people thought that it was not needed.

In these tough economic times, the travel budget is often the first luxury to go.

Unfortunately with dollar at all time low and Swiss franc stable, for Americans, a trip to Switzerland is anything but low budget. The Euro is also lower though, which could make other EU countries travel destination appealing.

Even if you aren’t allowed time off and can’t afford a trip abroad, don’t despair. Join me on a free ride, a virtual tour to a couple of my old European neighborhood stomping grounds. Next stop Normandy!

Are American shortchanged when it comes to time off? What’s your opinion?

Posted in social view, travel.


  1. Patty, That graph really shows the dismal condition of vacation time in the US. We Americans should all take a lesson from Europeans- 30 mandatory vacation days plus national holidays sounds wonderful. I know people who have 6 weeks vacation but don’t take it because they are so tethered to their jobs. We all need to take a time-out to refresh and renew our energy. I agree, vacation time is a quality of life issue.

  2. Interesting question, Patti. I used to think everyone else was just lazy. But now I’ve come to look at it more as the french do…a quality of life issue. I was having a conversation with a visiting American yesterday. We talked about work and what 40 hours a week REALLY means in the U.S. How a vacation there often means simply a change of place where you can do your work via computer. Always running to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Maybe it’s my age, but I’ve come to realize that quality of life does not mean working all the time. There are so many other things to learn and enjoy.

    • Ah yes, one of the first things I noticed when moving abroad was that although the French work hard, they also play hard. Holidays are a birth rights and sacred. Traditionally in France quality of life means more than quantity. They tend to spend less on things and more on experiences (and memorable dining is included in that) ha ha

  3. Yes. Plain and simple. People need more time off! When I worked for a public school district in California, I got about a month off in terms of vacation time earned plus paid holidays. Teachers in California get about 40 days off (without pay, which is a bummer, but still, off is off). I have a 64-year-old brother who only gets one week off a year. One week! If he works there five years, he’ll get a second week. Good old American capitalism.

    • That is outrageous! Can’t believe your brother-in-law only gets off one week a year!! Do you find that you have more free tim now that you are “retired” from the public sector and running your own business or do you find that you are putting in just as much time only at different, random hours of the day?

  4. Americans are definitely short changed when it comes to time off. It’s of no use to anyone but the people at the top to spend almost all of your life on working in these modern times.

    Automation and mechanization made it possible to divide less work over the same amount of people. However, it’s cheaper for companies to hire less people and have them work their asses off fulltime.

    This kind of talk would probably get me arrested as a communist in the US 😉

    • Good point and oh so true about companies turning over a profit at the cost of the individual’s quality of life. Rolled on floor LOL over your last line!!!

  5. 4 Weeks of paid holiday sounds something akin to heaven:) I only get 3 weeks, but considering the time I’ve put in, that’s not a lot of return for a weary body to rejuvenate and actually want to return to work, lol

    Great post.

    • I do believe nursing is one of the most demanding professions that exist. How can you pay someone enough to care? Surely that is one field where more vacation time should be rewarded to those who show up round the clock to offer kindness and support for societies sickest, weakest souls.

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