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5 Weeks + 13 Days: Austria's Generous Vacation Law

Today's Room for Debate in the New York Times asks, why Americans don't have longer vacations. Interesting topic. To read the debate and join it click here.

Austria has 13 national holidays. The minimum vacation time is five weeks. As a reporter in Vienna in the 1990s I got so much vacation time (plus the national holidays plus compensation days for working Sundays) that there was no way I could have spent it all. Unfortunately for my employer the unconsumed days and weeks carried on to the next year and further to the next. When I quit my job the paper had to pay me for all the free time not taken which added up to almost three months salary. I spent it all.


debi said…

I love my time off - two to three weeks a year. If I had five weeks plus 13 days, I'd be so organized I'd bore myself - ha. More likely, I'd find more creative projects to add to my repertoire. :) I wonder how businesses afford it?

Thank you, Debi. I think there is a general consensus in the EU that longer vacation time makes for happier, more rested, more creative, more loyal employees which in turn helps employers. Most countries in the EU have comparable laws so the competition is no better off. Businesses complain but it is simply part of the game.
Lorraine Seal said…
We've been wondering about the national holidays that fall on a Saturday or Sunday, such as the upcoming Maria Himmelfahrt. Since the holiday is observed on the day, are workers compensated -- in time off -- for not having had the day off?

Mind you, I'm not complaining, just curious. I appreciate the European approach to vacation. Overall, my husband's colleagues and our neighbours seem more relaxed, more active and less stressed by work than we felt when we lived in California. Austria is a wonderful place to live.
Thanks, Lorraine. I agree that Austria is a wonderful place to live - and not just because of the loads of time off. Workers do not get compensated if holidays fall on a weekend which is also the case with Christmas this year (December 25 and December 26).
Unknown said…
Wow! If we had that type of vacation time here, I would consider looking for a "real" job. In another couple of months I will be leaving my current job - in part because there is simply not enough time left over to do the things that are important for me - and moving to project based work that will hopefully allow me more time for my dreams while preventing me from going broke. We'll see... Maybe I have to move the EU!
Thanks, Sarah, and good luck with your dreams. I hope everything works out the way you hope!

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