The Road To France

This article reports that one of our elected Representatives has introduced legislation requiring that every American company with more than 100 employees (later to apply to companies with more than 50 employees) to provide first one week, and later two weeks, of paid vacation to every employee who has worked at the company for a year. The purported theory is that more vacation will stimulate the economy by causing fewer sick days, better productivity, and happier employees.

Of course, there is a big gap between a bill and a law, and I hope that Congress decides it has better things to do than saddling American businesses with still more benefit obligations in a time of economic recession. It’s interesting that the article notes that America is “dead last” among 21 industrial companies when it comes to providing paid vacation, and falls well behind France, which mandates that employers provide 30 paid days of vacation each year. When will Congress understand that the competition is not about which country can force businesses to provide the most benefits, but rather which country can best encourage businesses to grow and provide jobs? I don’t think we want to be France, with its static economy and institutionalized unemployment and lifetime jobs and periodic labor strikes. In any case, American companies typically aren’t competing with French companies, but companies from China, and Korea, and India, and Brazil. How much paid vacation do you suppose those countries require local businesses to provide?