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A Fermata for This Orchestra

Finally, I could take a day off. Yes, this past Friday I was able to take an official vacation day from Amadeus and enjoy it among friends visiting from Paris.  It was a beautiful fall day with the sun in full force.  We were able to escape to Italy and explore the small town of Sanremo for a nice meal.  I have to say this vacation day threw me off because I had to keep reminding myself that it is Friday and not a typical Saturday.  I had to remind myself that my colleagues at work were not enjoying this day like I was; things were still active at Sophia-Antipolis in spite of my absence.

But is it really the paradise of vacation, time off and public holidays in France?  Well, yea for the most part. It gives context on why the French are so upset about the recent retirement reform.  They don’t want to loose a good thing.  At the same time there is reality.  Now that I took my first official holiday, I also discovered the fine print of this country.

When Is the Next Public Holiday?

When Is the Next Public Holiday?

Public Holidays: France has more public holidays than the States but are more strict about them.  You only get the holiday if the calendar puts it on a weekday.  If the holiday lands on a weekend, well you are out of luck!  Kiss it good-bye.  The French don’t do the courtesy of giving you that corresponding Friday or Monday in place of the holiday.  It is hitting hard this December as both Christmas and New Year’s land on a Saturday.  Consequently, Amadeus is open for business all five days of all four weeks for the month.  No freebies of a holiday.

Réduction du temps de travail (RTT): Being that the law of the land is a worker is limited to working only 35 hours, a company has to compensate for the fact they are putting in a typical 40 hours work week.  Such is the case at Amadeus where we are expected to be in the office for 40 hours.  The policy at Amadeus is to give everyone this allotment of time at the same time in May, every year.  Unfortunately for me, since my first day on the job was June 1st I have to wait till May 2011 for the next cycle.  This calculation of time is based also on the calendar and varies each year according to the government.  Usually it amounts to another week off.

A Gift from Your American Boss

A Gift from Your American Boss

In addition of course is the general vacation time granted by your employer.  Consequently I have no room to complain.  As one sits on a beach along the sea, there is an opportunity to reflect if the States could ever provide appropriate vacation for the health of their workers.  My colleague Michael Barrett provided a scary posting and graphic of the situation in the States compared to the rest of the world.  His graphic demonstrates that by law, employers are not enforced to give their employees a single day off.  We are one of the richest countries on this planet and we cannot guarantee ourselves the right to have time off?  In addition, the graphic shows the baseline of guaranteed time off where many employers add more time to be attractive to good talent.  You will also see that France is not at the top either, there are other European countries that guarantee more.  So why don’t Americans the go on strike demanding more time for a Grand Pause?  One journalist purposes basic fear as the answer; it is too easy to fire someone in the States and most are happy to just keep their job. 😦

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