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).