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The answer is easy to see: lack of influence of labor unions in USA, as compared to other countries. Also, American workers do derive some advantages from the small amount of vacation days: lower unemployment rate (because companies have more flexibility about hiring). Required vacation days imposes costs on hiring new people.The unemployment rate in EU countries and others is dreadful. On the other hand, the market does determine HR benefits. If enough people sought flextime/longer vacation periods for their job, companies would respond. One indicator to watch is what percentage of working adults work part time or do temp work. this group includes many who find the rigors of a full time work schedule to be unacceptable for one reason or another. I recently left my job partially for lack of vacation days, partially because of the inflexibility of the 40 hour work week. So I definitely know the problem. But the solutions lie not with government or even with companies but with worker attitudes. One underlying problem is tying benefits to jobs. Many health benefits for example, accrue only when you work full time, and people are reluctant to leave a job with benefits. As an independent/contractor, I definitely see the advantages of not bestowing tax advantages to individuals receiving company health benefits.
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