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Swiss say no to longer vacations

travel Updated: Mar 13, 2012 13:35 IST
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Last weekend, Swiss voters opted to maintain their country's statutory four weeks of vacation leave, balking at the suggested idea of a mandated six weeks of vacation. 

Trade unions tabled an initiative to raise the minimum paid holiday entitlement to six from four weeks due to the increased pressure of work in recent decades, a proposal reportedly rejected by voters by a sizeable majority.

For many in industrious Switzerland, the idea of relaxing for a further two weeks every year simply didn't add up in a time of financial instability, a view which would in all likelihood be echoed among those nations where holiday is seen as more of a privilege, not a right.

According to a 2007 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), for instance, the average US private sector worker receives 15 paid vacation days and paid holidays every year, but only at the discretion of their employer -- surprisingly, the US is the world's only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers any paid vacation time.

Contrast that with the generosity afforded to workers in Austria and Portugal and the difference is stark -- these countries receive a minimum of 22 days annual leave and 13 paid public holidays, the CEPR found.

In Switzerland, the paid public holidays aren't a right, but the four weeks of annual leave are, a situation in common with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In France, employers must guarantee a whopping 30 days of annual leave and a single paid public holiday, while citizens in Finland and Denmark both receive 25 days of annual leave and nine paid public holidays.

For the Swiss citizens disappointed by the results of the referendum, there are still a few countries doing worse than they are -- including Canada, where employers must grant ten days of annual leave and eight public holidays, and Japan, where workers are entitled to ten days of annual leave.