Is it time to rethink the US holiday calendar?

First, let me wish my Canadian friends a Happy Thanksgiving.  For my US friends, those at least that do not work for the Federal government, financial institutions or the odd school district, it is just another Monday morning.  Today is Columbus Day and like most of what I call the “Little Four,” – today, Veteran’s Day (November), MLK Day (January), and President’s Day (February) – is a normal work day.  More and more, these four days are less a holiday and more of a work day.  Even school districts can no longer say they are vacations.  In fact, most school districts now only take off two of them – MLK and Columbus, although some no longer take off Columbus.

And honestly, unless you work for the Federal government, you could argue that there really are no mandatory holidays in the United States anymore.  Even Easter, a non-Federal holiday, is finally seeing a break in the “everything is closed” mentality.  And as I have commented, it is very odd that you can buy a car on Independence Day, but you cannot buy a gallon of milk on Easter Sunday.  Even the sacred cows of Thanksgiving and Christmas are no longer days of rest.  Movie theatres, grocery stores, and other stores are opening.  Which begs the question – Why does the United States still have Federal holidays, if no one really gets a holiday?  This will continue to evolve as the United States struggles, and I mean struggles, to merge into the global economy.

As I mentioned, today is a holiday in Canada – a mandatory holiday.  I do not know anyone who is working today (if you are, drop me a note and tell me what industry you are in – First Responders, yeah, I know – sorry, but thanks!).  Not so if you work in the United States.  Especially if you work for an international corporation.   I have received phone calls on Thanksgiving, asking for technical support; Christmas for getting things printing in time for a release; and a number of phone calls when I am on holiday.  So, do holidays matter?  Of course.  And in the United States, holidays are almost as scares as hen’s teeth.  Real time off is hard to come by, and productivity continues to decline as people burn out.

So I propose a major change to the US holiday calendar.  Scrap it.  Yes, scrap it.  Throw it out.  There are no more Federal Holidays.  In place, mandate a minimum of four weeks vacation for those employers that have more than 10 employees.  If you want to take August off and go to the beach, and your employer can cover you, have fun and take your sunscreen.  If you would rather take it one day at a time, that works too.

Of course, this is all dreaming.  The United States government does not believe in dictating to businesses how to manage their employees, at least, unless it has something to do with workplace harassment or a number of now outdated labour laws.  One has to wonder what the roll of the Department of Labour is anymore.

So, enjoy your day off, or your work day, or whatever today is for you.  I will put another pot of coffee on.

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