Santa Monica, CA
Take Back Your Time, Subject Expert and Board Member
Take Back Your Time, Executive Director
'TAKE BACK YOUR TIME' LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR VACATION LAW -- LEADERS HOPE TO MAKE THE ISSUE PART OF THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Seattle, Washington, May 1, 2007:
The Take Back Your Time campaign called today for members of Congress to enact national legislation guaranteeing at least three weeks of paid vacation for all American workers. They pointed to statistics showing that vacation time is of proven benefit to employers and employees, but is being reduced or eliminated by many American companies. The United States is the only industrial nation that fails to legally protect its citizens' vacations.
American workers receive the least vacation time among wealthy industrial nations. Take Back Your Time (www.timeday.org), a national organization with about 10,000 members that also supports paid childbirth and sick leave legislation, has decided to make the campaign for a national vacation law its top priority for 2007-2008.
"What we're asking for is quite modest when you consider that residents of most industrial countries get five or six weeks off and that the absolute minimum in Europe is twenty days of paid vacation after the first year on the job," said Take Back Your Time's Executive Director Lisa Stuebing."
"Take Back Your Time calls on every member of Congress to stand up for Americans' health, family life and happiness, by making sure that all Americans are given the benefits of paid time off from work," declared Take Back Your Time's national coordinator, John de Graaf.
"Together, we can put together a movement that makes this issue part of the discussion in the 2008 presidential campaigns," added Jerome Segal of the University of Maryland. "I think any presidential candidate who gets out front on this will find a huge reservoir of public support."
AMERICA NEEDS A BREAK
"America needs a break," said Joe Robinson, author of Work to Live and founder of the Work to Live Vacation Campaign, "Job stress and burnout are epidemic. People are caught in this vise grip of spiraling workweeks and shrinking vacations. The average vacation in the U.S. is now only a long weekend. President Bush knows the value of vacation time. He enjoys his trips to his ranch. He ought to be the first to step up and say, 'Send me this bill and I'll sign it.'"
Robinson pointed out that vacations in the U.S. are vanishing. Last year, 25 percent of American workers got no paid vacation at all, while 43% didn't even take a solid week off. "Many employees in a climate of job insecurity are afraid to take their vacations for fear they'll be seen as slackers, something the lack of statutory validation for vacations fosters" adds Robinson. "Because there's no legal validation or protection for vacations, vacations are seen as not legitimate, somehow illicit."
Back in 2002, Robinson brought 50,000 signatures from Americans supporting a paid vacation bill to Congress. "This is not about slacking, not about being lazy," Robinson added. "Vacations are as important to your health as checking your cholesterol or getting exercise. They're the antidote to runaway stress. Research shows that an annual vacation can cut the risk of death from heart disease in women by 50% and in men by 32%. Vacations can also cure burnout, the last stage of chronic stress -- but it takes two weeks for the process of re-gathering crashed emotional resources to occur."
BUSINESS WILL BENEFIT FROM A VACATION LAW
Business also gets a big dividend from vacations. "Three week vacations have proven to be a boost to productivity and profits at enlightened American firms with that policy. Performance goes up when people come back from a vacation," said Robinson. "In the knowledge economy, the source of true productivity is a refreshed and energized mind."
Companies that have implemented three-week vacation policies have found it a win-win for employees and sales. At the H Group, a financial services firm in Salem, Oregon, profits have doubled since it adopted a three-week policy. At Jancoa, a cleaning services company in Cincinnati, sales increased 15 percent, a staff turnover problem was eliminated, and performance improved so much that the company was able to get rid of overtime.
"Unfortunately, most employers have been reducing time off in the interest of short-run profits," Robinson says. "That's why we need a law, like the 127 other countries in the world that have one."
LOSING VACATION TIME
Compared to 1970, a third fewer American families take vacations together. Professor William Doherty, a family studies expert at the University of Minnesota, says many adults remember childhood family vacations as the happiest times in their lives, a time when their families really bonded together. "But the family vacation, a couple of leisurely weeks spent camping, for example, is really disappearing," Doherty said, "and our families are suffering from the loss."
Two other organizations, Work to Live and the Adventure Travel Trade Association have joined the campaign. "We're a dedicated group, but we're small," added Cecile Andrews, the author of Slow is Beautiful. "We can't do this on our own, so we're looking for partners on this campaign, groups like the AMA, the Sierra Club, travel companies, health providers, labor unions, enlightened businesses -- there's really something in this for everyone."
"We really need this" argued Shauna South, who has signed on as Take Back Your Time's vacation campaign volunteer coordinator in Utah. "There's so much stress out there."
"We need to ask a simple question: What's the Economy for, anyway?" said John de Graaf. "Is it just about the Gross Domestic Product or is it to help us lead happy, healthy and sustainable lives? If it's the latter, then vacations are essential. There's no present like the time."
TO SPEAK WITH ANY OF THE PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS PRESS RELEASE, PLEASE CONTACT LISA STUEBING AT: 206-524-6788 (Seattle) / firstname.lastname@example.org