Dean Baker has made this old Sandwichman very, very happy. Point seven of Dean's "Yes, We Can Make the Stimulus more Stimulating":
7) Pay for shorter workweeks and more vacationsWow. Wow. The other six points are great, too. But this is my favorite.
The United States lags the rest of world in that its workers are not guaranteed any vacation time, sick leave, or family and parental leave. In Europe, five or six weeks a year of paid vacation is standard. Also, all Western European countries guarantee their workers some amount of paid sick leave and paid parental leave.
The stimulus gives us a great chance to catch up with the rest of the world. The government could make up the pay for two years for any paid cutback in hours, up to 10 percent of total hours worked in a year and $3,000 per worker. This means that if a firm offered workers who previously had no paid vacation five weeks of vacation a year, the government would provide a tax credit to pick up the tab, up to $3,000 per worker. Similarly, if they extended 10 days of paid sick leave, the government would provide a tax credit for the amount actually used. If employers of 70 million workers (half of the labor force) received an average tax break of $2,500, the cost would be $170 billion a year.
UPDATE: You can now vote for this idea at the "Citizen's Briefing Book" on the change.gov website!
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