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Labor Day's a fine time to reflect on how few vacation days you have--but do you take all you get?

Have you taken all your vacation days? Here's how your time off, including holidays, stacks up with other countries. 
(Raoul Ranoa / Los Angeles Times)


Labor Day, a holiday dedicated to working people, is the right day to think about--what else?--being away from work and getting out to see the world.

In other words, it's time to check on how many vacation days you have left this year -- and where you're going.

In America, paid vacation time isn't legally required, but it is in many other countries. 

Europe, for example, leads the pack of the world's richest nations when it comes to guaranteed time off with an average of 20 days of paid vacation each year.

President Obama bicycles with his daughter, Malia, while on vacation in August on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press

Workers in France get a whopping 30 days followed by Britain with 28 days. 

Austria's work force gets 25 days off as do Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, according to a 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Camping at Red Rock Canyon State Park in southern Kern County. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Canada and Japan are lowest on the list of 21 developed nations studied, with just 10 days each.

And the U.S. is zero, of course, though most people get a week or two of paid vacation from their employers after being on the job for at least a year.

So it's time to demand more vacation time, right?

Well, only if you're really going to use it, which you're not going to do.

Americans are taking fewer vacation days now than at any other time in the last 40 years.

Project: Time Off reports that between 1976 and 2000, American workers used an average of 20 vacation days each year. That number dropped to 16 days in 2013.

The Twister water slide at Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo / Associated Press)

And a June survey showed that 135 million or 56% Americans hadn't taken a vacation -- defined as a "full week" vacation -- in the prior 12 months, according to Allianz Global Assitance

That's an increase over the 52% surveyed in 2014.

There are good reasons to take a much-earned break too.

Visitors kiss in front of the Parthenon during a visit to Athens. (Yorgos Karahalis / Associated Press)

"When employees don't use their [paid time off], research shows it affects their happiness, health, and performance and productivity at work, all of which can undermine company success," the Project: Time Off's study says.

So think about booking a flight to that family reunion, taking a fall cruise or even just hitting the road wherever it takes you. You'll do better at your job and be less stressed out too.


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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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