POLITICS

Paid Vacation Bill Goes To The Hill

06/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A bill to be introduced into Congress on Thursday would require employers to provide employees with paid vacation time.

The Paid Vacation Act of 2009 was announced today in a press release was issued by Take Back Your Time, a U.S./Canadian group that bills itself as an "initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment."

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2009


Contact: John de Graaf, 206 443-6747 (o); 206 407-5490 (c)
jodg@comcast.net


FIRST PAID VACATION BILL IN U.S. HISTORY TO BE INTRODUCED IN CONGRESSS ON MAY 21ST


TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is pleased to announce that Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) will introduce the Paid Vacation Act of 2009 at a news conference on the Cannon House Office Building Terrace in Washington DC at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 21, 2009.

WHAT THE BILL DOES:

Requires one week of paid vacation for employees of companies with at least 100 employees. Three years after passage, the bill extends this requirement to companies with at least 50 employees, and requires two weeks for companies with 100 employees.

Covers workers after one year on the job. Part-timers must work 25 or more hours a week and 1250 hours per year to be covered.

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME Executive Director John de Graaf and board members Bill Doherty and Joe Robinson will join Congressman Grayson and other speakers, including physician Arnold Pallay, economist John Schmitt, and simple living advocate Wanda Urbanska, at the news conference, which is open to the public.

"We hope that if you live in the Washington DC area, you'll come to the news conference and show your support for this bill," says de Graaf. "Family vacations are an important source of family bonding and memories," observes Doherty, a family therapy professor at the University of Minnesota. "Yet a third fewer families take them than a generation ago." "Vacations have been shown to increase productivity and profitability," adds Robinson, a business consultant.

Research by economist John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is alone among industrial countries in not mandating paid vacation time. More than 147 countries now have paid vacation laws. All European nations require at least four weeks of paid vacation. Dr. Pallay points out that health studies have shown that regular vacations can reduce the rates of heart disease and depression by nearly half. Wanda Urbanska, who travels throughout the US for her PBS series, SIMPLE LIVING WITH WANDA URBANSKA, says she sees a hunger in the country for new, less materialistic values centered around time for family and health.

"This is a very modest bill," says de Graaf. "But we support it wholeheartedly and congratulate Congressman Grayson for introducing it and helping open a dialogue about why vacations matter, how deprived Americans are when it comes to paid time off, and why we must act now to improve the situation." He points out that a poll conducted last year by TAKE BACK YOUR TIME found that half of all Americans took less than one week of vacation last year. A quarter of all workers receive no paid vacation time at all and the average is less than two weeks. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. companies that offer paid vacation time has actually dropped in the past year.

The poll found that 69% of American voters would support a paid vacation law, including 75% of women, 83% of voters under 30, and 89% of African-Americans. "Without any question, there is widespread grassroots support for this," says Robinson, who has been working on the issue for a decade.

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is seeking endorsements of the Paid Vacation Act of 2009 from private companies, citizen action organizations, and other groups and institutions. Please email your endorsement to: John de Graaf jodg@comcast.net

Media inquiries regarding the specifics of the bill and the news conference should be made directly to Congressman Grayson's press secretary, Todd Jurkowski:
Todd Jurkowski, Press Secretary
Congressman Alan Grayson (Dist. 8, Florida)
todd.jurkowski@mail.house.gov
202.503.5964 (cell)
202.225.2176 (office)

Information about vacation time can be found at: www.right2vacation.org.

A national "Vacation Matters Summit" will be held at Seattle University, August 10-12, 2009. The media is welcome. Contact John de Graaf for more information.

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