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Paid Vacation Law Coming Soon? The Paid Vacation Act of 2009

On the heels of recently proposed mandatory paid sick leave legislation, a Florida Congressman has proposed legislation that would require some employers to offer employees annual paid vacation.

Currently, employers have no legal obligation to offer employees paid or unpaid vacation.

Yesterday, Alan Grayson, Representative of Florida's 8th District which includes Orlando, proposed the Paid Vacation Act of 2009. If passed, the law would federally mandate that businesses with at least 100 employees, and later businesses with at least 50, offer paid vacation each year to full- and part-time employees.

Employers with 100 or more employees would be required to offer one week of paid vacation to full- and part-time employees (25 hours/week or 1250 hours/year) after one year of service. In three years, it would increase to two weeks paid vacation at businesses with 100 or more employees.

In three years, businesses with 50 or more would be required to offer one week paid vacation to employees.

In his press release announcing the bill, Rep. Grayson asked: "Why are paid vacations good enough for the Chinese, French, Japanese, and German employees, but not good enough for us? In other countries, it's a matter of right. Everyone is entitled to it. In our country, it is a matter of class." He goes on to assert that the U.S. is the only industrialized country without a minimum annual leave law, and the only developed country without a paid vacation law.

Opponents argue that a paid vacation law would stifle business and adversely affect employees as a result. Their worries include less hiring (capped below 100 or 50 employees), cuts in other employee benefits and reductions in salaries and raises.

But Representative Grayson sees better work life balance bringing improved productivity through more healthy employees. As quoted in Politico, the Representative from Orlando opined: "There's a reason why Disney World is the happiest place on Earth: The people who go there are on vacation. ... Honestly, as much as I appreciate this job and as much as I enjoy it, the best days of my life are and always have been the days I'm on vacation."

Time will tell whether members of Congress whose local businesses are less travel related will join Rep. Grayson's vacation wavelength.