Japan is considering a proposal targeted at workaholics, which would require that all workers use at least a portion of their vacation days. Sounds simple enough, but Japanese workers have become some of the most notoriously diligent (read: stressed out) in the world since the country’s economic resurgence in the late 20th century.
The mandatory vacation policy is meant to help workers achieve a healthy, work-life balance, Slate reports.
Japanese workers are guaranteed 10 paid days off, plus a myriad of other offerings. Still, Slate said it’s a rarity that Japanese employees take time off for fear of letting down co-workers and their boss. If passed, the new policy would require that workers take a minimum of five vacation days.
“The culture of long working hours and unpaid overtime is regularly criticized as a leading cause of mental and physical illness among employees,” The Japan Times said.
But taking a vacation has more positive impacts than solely health benefits. Days off can be a boost to the economy, as residents spend their time off on leisure activities, The Japan Times reports.
Should the United States follow Japan’s lead and require that American workers take vacation time?
In this country, a Skift.com consumer survey found that an alarming 42 percent of Americans didn’t take even one vacation day in 2014.
According to The Huffington Post, 1 in 5 American workers said they don’t take time off for fear that their “absence would prove them to be replaceable.”
Overall, Americans still spend far fewer hours in the office than their Japanese counterparts
“I’ve heard Japanese executives here [in the U.S.] ask questions like, ‘Why do Americans go home so early?'” [Paul] Jaffe [former longtime resident of Japan and consultant at Japanese Intercultural Consulting] recalled. “They haven’t grasped fully the situation here, the family situation, the sociological situation where people have kids and they have to go pick them up from school.”
It’s important to note that not all American employers offer paid vacation leave for their workers. In fact, the U.S. is the only advanced economy “that doesn’t require companies to offer paid leave.”
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For a little window into the emerging world of people who work from home, watch this video: