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1. The right to leisure
2. Types of leisure
2.1. Hours worked
2.3. Paid holidays, including public holidays, statutory minimum
2.4. Paid parental leave
3. Inequality of leisure
Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants every human the right to leisure and rest. And rightly so, because toil and inhuman working conditions make it impossible to enjoy any other human right or any meaningful human activity. One way to guarantee a reasonable measure of leisure is to limit the number of hours worked per day. Another way is to grant people a certain number of paid (public) holidays and a number of days of annual leave (see also article 24).
In many countries, the numbers of hours worked have come down over the years. Take the example of Canada:
But in other parts of the world as well:
However, large differences between countries persist:
And then we’re not even looking at poor countries.
Also, given the enormous increases in productivity and automation over the last decades, one could have expected larger cuts in hours worked. The reason isn’t clear: maybe people don’t want leisure and prefer ever increasing riches; maybe consumption competition is the cause; or maybe governments don’t provide the necessary legal framework such as a basic income, a consumption tax or paid holidays. Or maybe people want leisure but prefer to do very expensive things in their time off, meaning that they need to work hard.
Despite this reduction in hours worked, many of us claim that we’re not well-rested:
(source, data for the US)
(source, data for the US)
Here’s an international comparison of the number of paid holidays (not including public holidays) across rich countries (poor countries, of course, have other priorities):
The U.S. has 0 days because there’s no legislation imposing a statutory minimum of vacation days, which doesn’t mean Americans have no annual leave. Companies grant their employees vacation days on a voluntary basis.
Here’s a country comparison that includes public holidays:
Apart from paid public holidays and paid annual leave (whether mandatory or voluntary), workers in some countries can enjoy paid parental leave – mostly for mothers but sometimes also for fathers:
Parental leave can take many forms: days off after the birth of a child, leave for attending to a sick child, breast-feeding breaks etc.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid time off to provide care to a new child.
Another element of leisure is retirement. It seems cruel and unjust to force people to work for a living until the day they die.
There’s a leisure gap between men and women (on top of other gaps):
In the U.S.,
those with more leisure, and who are benefiting from a disproportionate rise in leisure, tend to be those with lower skill levels. (source)