Alan Grayson to introduce Paid Vacation Act
By ERIKA LOVLEY | 5/21/09 4:28 AM EDT Text Size:
Rep. Alan Grayson was standing in the middle of Disney World when it hit him: What Americans really need is a week of paid vacation.
So on Thursday, the Florida Democrat will introduce the Paid Vacation Act — legislation that would be the first to make paid vacation time a requirement under federal law.
The bill would require companies with more than 100 employees to offer a week of paid vacation for both full-time and part-time employees after they’ve put in a year on the job. Three years after the effective date of the law, those same companies would be required to provide two weeks of paid vacation, and companies with 50 or more employees would have to provide one week.
The idea: More vacation will stimulate the economy through fewer sick days, better productivity and happier employees.
“There’s a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation,” said Grayson, a freshman who counts Orlando as part of his home district. “Honestly, as much as I appreciate this job and as much as I enjoy it, the best days of my life are and always have been the days I’m on vacation.”
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 28 million Americans — or about a quarter of the work force — don’t get any paid vacation. The center says that a lack of vacation causes stress and workplace burnout and that those evil twins cost the economy more than $300 billion each year.
One more if-you’re-reading-this-then-you’re-probably-not-on-vacation fact: The United States is dead last among 21 industrial countries when it comes to mandatory R&R.
France currently requires employers to provide 30 days of paid leave.
Not surprisingly, some in the travel industry are salivating over Grayson’s bill; Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski said the U.S. Tour Operators Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association are both on board. Other tourism and labor groups are expected to sign on in the coming days.
The U.S. Travel Association has not yet endorsed the measure, but Senior Vice President Geoff Freeman says Congress does need to consider new ways to stimulate the vacation industry and travel economy.
So far, no group has come out in opposition of the bill. Nor has anyone announced opposition to roller coaster rides, cookouts on the beach or salt-water taffy on the boardwalk.