Tellingly, it was first coined in by an American psychologist in the 1960s (but ultimately gained popularity in the 90s). Even more significant is the fact that this words does not translate into most other languages and certainly not into French.
Not only is the word “travailolique” ('travail' being French for work and 'alcoolique', the word for alcoholic) unknown in the contemporary French language, but the whole notion is even hard to grasp in the French mindset.
A recent study seems to confirm the gap between how the French and the Europeans view their priorities and how the Americans view theirs:
The Center for Economic and Policy Research in
The main point is that the
is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation. United States
One objection though: while it is true there's no federal regulation on the subject, one also needs to consider state laws. Precisely this does not mean that American workers get no vacation at all, but they get very little compared to the rest of us: almost 1 in 4 Americans have no paid vacation and no paid holidays.
According to government survey data:
- the average worker in the private sector in the
receives only about 9 days of paid vacation and about 6 paid holidays per year (which is less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of world's rich economies excluding U.S. ) Japan
- lower-wage workers are less likely to have any paid vacation (69%) than higher-wage workers are (88%).
- part-timers,are far less likely to have paid vacations (36%) than are full-timers (90%).
- Only 70% of those employed in small establishments have paid compared to 86% in medium and large establishments.
European countries establish legal rights to at least 20 days of paid vacation per year, with legal requirement of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries.
The situation of
From their first month of employment, workers in
are eligible for annual leave, which accrues at a rate of 2.5 days per four weeks’ work, or 30 days per year (from June 1 to May 31). Workers may take up to 24 days of this leave at a time, but at least 12 of these days must be taken between May 1 and October 31. Workers receive extra leave for deciding to take a portion of their leave outside of the summer season: those who take between three and five days’ leave off-season receive an extra day’s leave, and those who take six days’ leave off-season receive two extra days. France
There are 11 public holidays, but only one, May 1, must be paid. 12 Finally, French law guarantees additional, unpaid leave for community work: up to nine unpaid working days of leave for representing an association, and up to six months’ unpaid leave for “international solidarity” trips for service abroad.
It must also be added that the official working-week in
French workers remain among the most productive in the world, ahead of
, Britain , the Germany and United States , according to the European statistics agency Eurostat. (Forbes) Japan
From a more pragmatic perspective, it makes sense to me that some time off is necessary for humans to be efficient. We have all experienced it: you are probably better at your job if you get some time off – you can recharge your batteries and get a refreshed view, with more critical distance. Now of course, the French are under stress to get the same work done in less time. But on the other hand, getting so little time off as most Americans does not seem a very efficient way to do business, even strictly from an economic perspective.
In France the 35 hour workweek has been controversial and in fact, the law has been substantially weakened and exceptions have been carved.But even the new president who was elected with the slogan “Work more to earn more” has no intention of getting rid of it completely, even though he says he intends to make some adjustment and make it more flexible.
Now of course, it all depends on what kind of society you want to live in. What do you value most: time or money? Most likely, you need a little bit of both – it is just a question of how much.