It is time for the United States to support real family values – the time to see one’s family, time off from work when sick or injured, time off for maternity to get a new family started right, and paid vacations so that people can bond and recover from the daily grind. We lag behind every other major country in offering these things to our citizens.

Every single other country, both in rich world and in the developing world, offer some form of paid time off to workers – whether as paid sick leave, vacation time, public holidays, or all three – to workers as a right. In some developing countries, like China and Mexico, it is as low as a few days, but most poor countries do much better. The west African country of Mali offers 22 days; Peru offers 34 days; Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, offers 37 days; and Iran offers 53 days. The United States offers zero. Not one single paid holiday, vacation day, or sick day is guaranteed as a right in America. Some employers offer them anyway, but many do not. And studies have repeatedly shown that workers are more productive when they have time to recover properly from illness and spend time off on vacations.

By refusing to join the rest of the world in such a policy, the United States is holding back its own economic prosperity, impoverishing its citizens, and decreasing both health and happiness. How is that the nation founded in order to guarantee “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” to its people should stand as the only country in the world not to offer paid time off to workers as a right? This is not only a moral issue, it is an economic one, given the great drains on overall productivity from exhausted and haggard workers, and a social one, given the strain our way of life puts on relationships and families. If we are serious about wanting to encourage stronger marriages and stable family units, how can we continue to stand alone in forcing citizens to choose between preserving their family and paying the rent, or their between protecting their health and having money to buy groceries?

Photo credit: United Workers