SAT, 7AM ET
WED
NOT
SAT, 7:45AM ET
BUR
MUFC
SAT, 9:45AM ET
FUL
CAR
SAT, 10AM ET
MCFC
STO
SAT, 10AM ET
NEW
CRY
SAT, 10AM ET
QPR
SUN

Bank Holiday Premier League Matches Expose Divide Between US and UK

overworked and underpaid Bank Holiday Premier League Matches Expose Divide Between US and UK

It’s this time of the year when it’s most noticeable how many more public holidays the United Kingdom has compared to the United States. Because Boxing Day this year fell on a Saturday, it means that today (Monday, the 28th) is recognized as a bank holiday where the vast majority of the UK gets to stay at home while most people in the States are back at work.

To make matters even better for the UK and to ease the pain of going back to work for US residents (although that’s not the reason for it), there’s a full schedule of Premier League games on today including the London derbies of Chelsea versus Fulham, and Spurs against West Ham United, and many other matches.

While residents in the UK and US will undoubtedly enjoy the full day of Premier League matches, today is another example of how lopsided the amount of vacation days are between both countries. The United Kingdom officially has eight public holidays each year, while the United States has six that most businesses recognize (New Years Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day).

The difference becomes even more lopsided when paid vacation days is taken into consideration. The United States, for example, is the only country in the world where paid vacation is not a right. Businesses don’t have to grant paid vacation, but most companies offer anywhere between five to ten days (above and beyond the public holidays) as part of their benefits package to employees. Workers may receive more than ten days per year if they have been at a company for five years or more or ten years or more. Again, this is at the company’s discretion.

While US workers may get five to ten vacation days or more per year, the UK law stipulates that a worker must receive 28 paid vacation days. However, a study done by the Families and Work Institute found that less than half of American employees take the full amount of vacation given to them. Plus, sadly, 25% of Americans receive no paid vacation or paid holidays.

What does all of this mean? It’s really an example of how the balance between work and life is not in the correct priority in the United States. While work is extremely important, the balance of the weights is tipped way too much in favor of U.S. corporations and not enough to worker’s rights. While that means that U.S. corporations feel they can get more out of employees, the reality is that workers often feel burnt out and unhappy.

What does this have to do with soccer? Not a whole lot, I admit. But it’s a pet peeve of mine which I become more sensitive to during the holiday period especially when my British relatives are enjoying an extra day of festive celebrations while most Americans have to slog away at work. Whether you’re working today or not, I hope you find some time to enjoy the Premier League football either in person or on television (view the TV schedule for US residents).

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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36 Responses to Bank Holiday Premier League Matches Expose Divide Between US and UK

  1. Jason Gatties says:

    Stick to what you know…talking about soccer.

  2. eric says:

    jason, get over it. some people are a little more cultured than others.

  3. Jason says:

    A rather liberal ideology I think in this statement. Required vacation days is the stuff of socialism guys. Many of us Yanks are trying real hard to prevent Barry O from making that happening. I could say more but I wont since we should stick to football.

    For Monday I would like to see as a fan 1) West Ham get the snot kicked out of them. I particularly started hated them even more after I learned that scumbag Russel Brand likes them. Send down WHU! The EPL is better of without them! 2) Wins from Fulham, Burnley, and Sunderland 3) Fewer draws

    • john says:

      ‘liberal ideology’ @ jason

      all the republican party is is

      a) a bunch of ignorant poor folks inexplicably sticking up for the rich.
      b) businesses and business-owners looking out for their own interests

      b) I can respect, a) I cannot

      • Jorge Curioso says:

        Except that the democrat party is wealthier than the republican, and the wealthiest folks in congress are democrats, not republicans.

        The republican party is the party of the little guy.

        So, about that ignorance…

  4. You even see stuff like this in American sports, people in England were originally worried when Americans took over their clubs (Man U fans still worried!) because we see things like NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA and the franchis philosophy makes these teams out as more of a business.

    A lot of my mates have been shocked when they found out that some NFL teams have moved cities. America was most certainyl built on capitalism and there are too many powerful people in the country that don’t want to see that end, everything is about making money. I love the US and the US people but feel sorry for them when it comes to political matters – their government is more corrupt than ours! This health bill is a prime example, lots of presidents have tried to get it pushed through but it took someone like Obama who people actually believe in to really get it done, and even then politicians voted against it because their campaigns were funded by private health companies.

  5. Mark says:

    I agree with the Gaffer and he is entitled to his opinion. I share his sentiments on this topic having lived and worked in the US for the best part of this decade. I too always bemoaned having to work at this time of year. Americans don’t seem to realize how much their being shafted on this issue.

    I moved back to the UK three months ago and am now enjoying the extra day off today. It’s much more relaxing and allows workers to recharge their batteries. Ditto for the amount of vacation time the UK gets in comparison to the US.

  6. Andy in VA says:

    I use to feel that way until I started my own construction business. All my guys are back at work and most of them dont get holiday pay.
    Its not that I’m a bad guy but all my competition who have been in business longert than me dont pay it either.
    Its just the way it is.
    People dont get mad drunk here and turn the city centers into mad rampaging fight zones either.
    It was only when I moved to the States how people in UK drink.

  7. Cantona says:

    the USA is getting shafted here.. it should be a right to have paid vacations.. if that what americans call socialism. then sign me up… bottom line its the RIGHT THING TO DO… that being said.. I wish I was French this time of year….

    Cantona—

  8. David in MN says:

    Stumbled on this site looking for news about Burnley. Great place!

    I had to negotiate 2 weeks (10 days) vacation from my employer. Their standard is 5 days. I always look to France envious of their mandatory vacation.

    Based on my little knowledge of European history, it seems like the 28 days of mandatory vacation is in response to the Industrial Revolution, no? Living conditions for those working in factories in England were horrible, and (again if my memory serves me right) living quarters were cramped enough that factory and city pollution sickened people who were exhausted from working 12-16 hour days.

    Worker morale is already lower than low in the US, so socialist or not, I wholeheartedly support the Unites States joining the rest of the world in implementing mandatory vacation time on par with other industrial countries.

    And on a sad note: Everton 2-0 Burnley. Damn.

    • The Gaffer says:

      In previous companies where I’ve worked, where I had 10 vacation days, I’ve been told I can only use them for long weekends and wouldn’t be allowed to take more than five consecutive days. No joke.

      At other companies I’ve worked at, trying to negotiate when to take time off is a major ordeal.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • ovalball says:

        It is also true that many who have vacation days don’t take them for fear of losing favor, being labeled a slacker….not a team player, etc.

        It is the system we have and not likely to change, but I don’t dream about being French. :-)

  9. man99utd says:

    It really depends on where one works. I work for a global Corp. Based in America and they practically beg us to take time off. The only problem is everyone wants Christmas, so I have to nobble the boss for Boxing Day. I do think America works too long and hard as a rule, but it’s a cultural thing. Any road, football has been cracking this festive season. Cheers

  10. Tim says:

    From my experience of living in the States (moved from England 12 years ago), it seems like employees are expected to treat time off as a privilege instead of a right (which is how it’s treated in England). Last year I was denied taking Boxing Day off (first day off I had requested in 6 months).

  11. CA_backpacker says:

    Workers getting the shaft is nothing new in the USA. I work at the US office for a global company, and it is painful seeing colleagues getting a LOT more time off than I just because they work in a country that mandates treating its workers better. It isn’t just time off…look at how short our maternity/paternity leave is…and companies aren’t forced to give sick time either (which means people come into work sick more, spreading their bug throughout the workplace).

    It won’t change. The USA is the definition of a Corporatist system, big business will make darn sure their bought-and-paid-for Congressmen toe the line, just as they are doing on “health care reform”.

  12. Renegade Gooner says:

    It is also a holiday here in Canada. Sucks for the US.

  13. Casey says:

    …..or maybe plp in the UK are lazy and thats why we as in the USA are the leading power in the world and not the UK.

    ……..Just a thought

  14. JC says:

    I work for a State university in SC. I get loads of extra vacation. In no particular order they give us Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Confederate Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving! I’m not complaining. And on top of that i earn about 15 hours a month of vacation. Downside is the pay is shit!

  15. MNUfan1991 says:

    Time off, paid holidays, medical benefit, etc are all part of the total compensation package.
    I know people who work in the public sector with tons of days off, while the base pay is garbage.
    I also know folks who work at law and financial firms, with 110+ hours/week, no vacation (yes there are vacation days but the workload precludes you from taking any) but the jobs pay $150k+ right out of school. Those who hack it make partnership and make a load of $$$. Those who don’t burn out and sink into oblivion.
    Last thing I want is the government mandating compensation package. The marketability of my skills and experience is my job security and bargaining chip. I don’t need nobody to decide what my compensation should be.

  16. timmyg says:

    One catch to this is that you’re referring to private sector jobs.

    Public sector jobs, most of anyway, get the same perks that you see in other nations. Which is why more people are flocking to the public sector.

  17. eplnfl says:

    I am a liberal voter but find nothing wrong with the law not mandating vacation time. Additionally, being a small business owner myself I believe that we have too many holidays. Yes, I believe that America has the right idea about going to work. Given that for the last 20 years I normally take time off at this time of the year but business and the economy is keeping me home this season. Many American’s take vacations at this time or find that their business is slow at this time of year. Let’s put all that aside and look at the Prem schedule issue.

    We all know the Prem teams and especially the big teams and their players play too much. Are these holiday fixtures right after another really necessary any more? I can understand that in the past holiday fixtures were necessary as a way to ensure a big crowd at the pitch. No longer are Prem teams dependent on attendance for their revenues, it’s about TV money as we all know. Ok, many countries do take off Boxing Day but in the large TV markets of China, South West Asia, and the Middle East it is not a consideration and in most likely hurts veiwership.

    I am currently reading the highly recommended book Soccernomics. The role of doing things in English football based on tradition is exposed as a detriment to the game and not a positive. The Boxing Day fixtures are an example of how tradition hurts the modern game. The EPL would be better off adopting the American system of scheduling a game or two on Boxing Day as a showcase such as the NFL does on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Let the Championship carry the spotlight on Boxing Day and give the Prem players a`well deserved break. I ask you do we really think that we are seeing the best football right now or teams just trying to get by.

    Finally, as a American I hope the English players are exhausted by World Cup time!

  18. Dano says:

    Today really angered me. Usually on Monday’s I work from 12-8 in the afternoon, but because I had to cover for someone, I was in at 8 in the morning, missing out on some good soccer action.

  19. Brian says:

    The Gaffer is certainly entitle to his opinion. The United States has an ethos of a rugged individualism where everyone can suceed at anything if they put their mind to it and work hard at it. This is one of the many reasons that United States went from nothing to the sole superpower in only 233 years. No other in the county in the world can say that about itself.

    Yes, some companys give less vacation time than others, but it is a benefit that can be negotiated when you are applying for a job. If the prospective employee doesn’t like the company policy of only 10 days of vacation, he or she can negotiate to have more or look for a different employer. This is one of the many benefits to being a member of our labor force. The ability to have choice where you can work. No one is forcing you to take a job that only offers 5 days of vacation.

    Should the government mandate how much vacation time a company should give? The answer is NO. A company (large or small) needs the flexibility to determine how best to manage its labor force without unnecessary goverment interference.

    As for rights, anything that a government can take away from someone is NOT a right. If the UK government wanted to it could pass a law and change the amount of vacation time companies can give. In the United States, our rights are protected by our founding documents, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    • David in MN says:

      This is a very antiquated view of the United States from a capitalist viewpoint.

      Anymore, individualism accounts for very little on the larger scale in the United States. Not everyone can succeed at anything if they put their mind to it. EG: welfare. While many argue that people are on welfare because they want to, why would an individual opt for section 8 housing? Underprivileged people cannot simply “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” get into college, and get a high paying job. Affluent people like to think that. Along the same point, I think it’s naive to say that the US is the sole superpower. Is that why we have so much money loaned to us from China? Is that why we are a part of the Kyoto Treaty? A part of the International Court? The “sole” superpower the USA is not.

      Vacation time is currently nearly non-negotiable due to the barren job market. To think that someone “can negotiate to have more or look for a different employer” is absurd. That search for another employer can last 3-20 months, and employers know this.

      Finally, unfortunately no rights except the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are afforded to us by the Declaration of Independence, and the rest of our rights are upheld by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, not necessarily the Constitution itself. Freedom of press, speech, religion; the right to bear arms; states rights; all of these, and all the rest, are subject to Supreme Court ruling.

      • The Gaffer says:

        I agree David. Unless you’re in an industry where vacancies are in high-demand, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to negotiate vacation time.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  20. boringarsenal says:

    Absolutely correct, Gaffer! What I can’t figure out is why many Americans become so defensive about these sort of issues. We need bags of Socialism here in the USA!
    Apart from my political feelings, my wish is to catch as many football matches this week, including the FA Cup this coming week-end. Go Gunners, and here’s hoping that FSC and DIRECTV are in HD next month.

  21. TokyoToffeeman says:

    Sorry I was a bit late reading this post & the comments – I was on a ‘long’ unpaid vacation in Europe…

    Look here:
    http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/435

  22. The Gaffer says:

    Here’s an interesting index showing the quality of life in countries around the world: http://www1.internationalliving.com/qofl2010/

    The US is not number one.

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

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