Annual leave is paid time off work granted by employers to employees to be used for whatever the employee wishes. Depending on the employer's policies, differing number of days may be offered, and the employee may be required to give a certain amount of advance notice, may have to coordinate with the employer to be sure that staffing is adequately covered during the employee's absence, and other requirements may have to be met. It is considered a benefit for the employees.
|Political Economy||Average Standard
Annual Leave 2003
|Source: FR?; for the sums of annual leave and legal holidays. IWD 2009|
Most countries around the world have labor laws that mandate employers give a certain number of paid time-off days per year to workers. Nearly all Canadian provinces require at least two weeks; in the European Union the countries can set freely the minimum, but it has to be at least 20 days (not including national holidays). Full-time employment in Australia requires twenty annual leave days a year. US law does not require employers to grant any vacation or holidays, and about 25% of all employees receive no paid vacation time or paid holidays. According to the Bureau of labor statistics the average paid holidays and days of vacation and sick leave for full-time employees in small private establishments in 1996 was 7.6 days. Many US State and local governments require a minimum number of days off; for employees that do receive vacation in the U.S., ten working days with eight national holidays is fairly standard. Members of the U.S. Armed Services earn 30 vacation days a year, not including national holidays.
Where law does not mandate vacation time, many employers nonetheless offer paid vacation, typically 10 to 20 work days, to attract employees. Under US federal law, employers usually must compensate terminated employees for accrued but unused vacation time. Additionally, most American employers provide paid days off for national holidays, such as Christmas, New Years, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
While US federal and most state law provides for leave such as medical leave, there are movements attempting to remove vacation time as a factor in the free-market labor pool by requiring mandatory vacation time.
Consecutive holidays refers to holidays that occur in a group without working days in between. In the late 1990s, the Japanese government passed a law that increased the likelihood of consecutive holidays by moving holidays from fixed days to a relative position in a month, such as the second Monday.