darkemeralds: A bike in the dark, decorated with white lights, its wheel rims bright reflective white in the flash (Christmas)
[personal profile] darkemeralds
Today is the last paid holiday of my career.

Though it's true that Americans don't take much time off compared to, say, Europeans, I'm still very cognizant of the generous plan my public sector place of employment has given me all these years; how many days they've paid me not to be at work.

From the very outset, when I was a just a wee Word Processing Clerk I (anyone remember those?), they gave me ten days of vacation, twelve of sick leave, and three personal days per year.

The vacation-day count has gone up along with the workload, so that when I turn in my badge next week, they're going to pay me for all the vacation I haven't actually managed to take for the last several years. That drop in the retirement bucket will make an audible splash, I can tell you.

As to sick leave...well, I learned an important lesson in my early days. A woman I worked with was singled out for praise because she had never taken a single sick day in, I forget, something like three years. Her reward? A free day off. It was obvious to me that she could have skipped the praise and had twelve paid days off in each of those years.

(Also, praising someone for the "virtue" of naturally good health is, at the very least, annoying.)

In short, I've never been afraid to "call in well" when I needed a mental health day. I'm pretty sure that's why a) I never climbed higher in the organization and b) the benefits of retiring at the first possible moment outweigh the big pay cut I'm about to take.

Besides, they don't buy back your unused sick leave. I'd've been dumb not to use it.

Back to work tomorrow for a few more days of toil in the fields of the System.

Date: 2013-12-26 08:12 am (UTC)
lamentables: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamentables
So close!

As one of those Europeans, the concept of a sick day allocation is pretty baffling. We call in sick when we're sick (with documentation from doctor if it's longer than a couple of days) and get paid by either the employer or, if it's longer term, the state. As a government employee, abrinsky received full pay for his 3 months off pre/post back surgery last year.

Not only do we get a far more generous holiday allowance than you do but there is a general principle of making people use the full allocation, discouraging payment in lieu or carrying over. That someone doesn't take their holidays is considered a flag for possible fraud/embezzlement (because they fear discovery).

Date: 2013-12-26 09:17 pm (UTC)
lamentables: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamentables
Oh, that's a really interesting response - I had no sense of a reason for the fundamental difference, just dismissing as another 'Americans are weird' thing. But it does tie up so many points of what I observe as your nation's weirdness.

Of course, we have many dreadful things going on in our labour market at the moment, such as a minimum wage below that is less than the living wage, and the sudden proliferation of 'zero hours' contracts, but these are - I hope - aberrations.

Date: 2013-12-26 09:15 pm (UTC)
writerscramp: stranger than fiction (emma thompson, i luv u) (Default)
From: [personal profile] writerscramp
As one of those Europeans, the concept of a sick day allocation is pretty baffling. We call in sick when we're sick (with documentation from doctor if it's longer than a couple of days) and get paid by either the employer or, if it's longer term, the state. As a government employee, abrinsky received full pay for his 3 months off pre/post back surgery last year.

In the US, we have FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act), which means that in a workplace with more than 50 employees (i.e., doesn't apply in smaller workplaces, which is most of them) a worker can take up to 3 months of unpaid leave for a qualifying family or medical issue (maternity leave, adoption, medical problem, or care of a sick relative) without losing their job.

That's about one notch above Scrooge on the Miserly Treatment of Workers Scale, yet American employers get the vapors at the very notion of FMLA. The idea of paying people for that time, even if indirectly via the state, would bring on the full wailing and gnashing of teeth. You never saw a more hysteria-prone bunch than the American business sector.

Date: 2013-12-26 09:33 pm (UTC)
lamentables: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamentables
Wow, in the UK you get 6 weeks maternity pay at 90% of your average salary plus up to 33 weeks at a statutory minimum. Employers are refunded all of the statutory maternity pay, and smaller businesses get a bit extra to compensate for some of the other associated costs.

Statutory maternity leave is up to 52 weeks. Minimum is 2 weeks, 4 if you work in a factory.

And the US response to anything like this, and socialised health care in particular, is beyond my comprehension.
Edited Date: 2013-12-26 09:34 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-12-26 09:55 pm (UTC)
lamentables: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lamentables
Again, that's an interesting insight. The whole American exceptionalism thing is, needless to say, beyond me too. Some aspects of it, as I've seen it reported/analysed, I find truly astounding.

Date: 2013-12-26 03:34 pm (UTC)
panisdead: (Default)
From: [personal profile] panisdead
Your countdown posts are so vicariously exciting! I can't wait for your last day. :)

Date: 2013-12-26 05:31 pm (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
Okay, I'm all boggled by the American approach to holidays & sickdays but countdown = wow! I am so excited on your behalf.

Date: 2013-12-27 04:19 pm (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
And I've been reading thro' the comments and your explanations of US culture & political history. Completely fascinating all round

Date: 2013-12-26 08:56 pm (UTC)
writerscramp: stranger than fiction (emma thompson, i luv u) (Default)
From: [personal profile] writerscramp
Wow, those are hugely generous vacation/sick leave benefits, but you're right that it's nowhere near as generous as Europe. At this point, I despair that it'd take a damn revolution for us to get anywhere near the leave benefits of Europe, but even if something more akin to your benefits was the standard, think how much better off the American workplace -- and more importantly, American workers -- would be. Instead, the leave I started with seems to be more of the standard for the American office, never mind other workplaces like restaurants. (For reference, I started w/5 sick days, 2 weeks vacation, no personal day, and 7 paid holidays. I will have been there 13 years in April, and I currently have 4 weeks vacation (my "reward" at my 5 and 10 year anniversaries was an additional week, respectively), and our current company policies about the others for everyone have changed to 6 sick days, 9 paid holidays, and 1 personal day. I don't think I'll continue to get a week of added vacation for every 5th anniversary, but I guess I'll find out.)

Good for you for getting that important lesson about sick leave, by the way. That is absolutely how I think it should be used, and I encourage others (coworkers, friends, etc.) to treat it that way whenever the subject comes up. Unfortunately, it's a case of do as I say, not as I do. :( I used to be better about taking mental health days instead of leaving sick leave on the table before I was promoted, but I'm hyperaware of how much disruption my absence causes for the people around me (which isn't to say that I'm a hugely important cog, because I'm not). And with the added vacation, I admit I feel too guilty most of the time to also take sick leave unless I'm actually sick. Score another point for the insidious and toxic corporate culture of America.

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