It’s August and All of Europe is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business?

by Evil HR Lady on August 2, 2019

Paid vacation time is mandatory in the European Union–four weeks is a minimum. That number can seem crazy to people in the United States where it takes 20 years of service to reach an average of 20 vacation days a year–and even when we have it, we don’t use it all.

But, in my experience, Europe embraces vacation–sometimes in ways that make no sense. I’ve frequently found restaurants that close for two weeks during peak tourist season–because the owners want to take their own vacation time. I’d think they would close in the offseason and make money while they could, but the vacation culture is strong.

This summer, my family is basically staying put due to a variety of reasons. We’re making a couple of short trips, but otherwise staying in our home in Switzerland (which, admittedly, is a prime vacation spot in and of itself). And it’s impossible to get anything done.

My lawyer has been on vacation for the past three weeks and will be back next week. I have some things I need her to look at, and they have to wait.

To keep reading, click here: It’s August and All of Europe is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr Just Back from Myrtle Beach August 2, 2019 at 9:04 pm

I move for European Vacation in the US– and I don’t mean the National Lampoon movie. I mean the work contracts, the multi-week vacations, etc.

I remember when I started my internship in Germany; the hiring director was apologetic he could only offer me 4 weeks vacation to start.

Sigh.

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MariaRose August 2, 2019 at 9:13 pm

Try that attitude in the USA and see how fast that agrees with consumers. The only ones here in the USA that can take vacations are the top 1% whose presence at work aren’t really effecting the day to day operations. Sure plenty of small business will post their vacation time for the public and close shop but the major business don’t grant all the employees the same time off especially if it is high sales period. Business in the USA is always happening despite employees need for vacation time too.

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..Kat.. August 3, 2019 at 9:21 am

So, if everything is closed, what do Europeans do for fun during their vacation? Do they really get off for 4 weeks straight?

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Ruth (UK) August 8, 2019 at 2:17 pm

It’s very rare in my opinion for people to take 4 consecutive weeks off. I’m in the UK where we have generous leave compared to the US but slightly stingy compared to continental Europe. I work administratively in a university. The academics get a lot of leave (more than admins etc) and it’s very common for them to take 2 or even 3 consecutive weeks off in the summer, and/or in December combining with xmas closure. For administrative jobs, it’s quite common for people to take their leave in increments of a week at a time.

For people in retail sectors etc, I don’t think fully closing businesses is that common, except maybe small businesses, and I’d be very surprised if many people did it for more than a solid week. When I worked in retail full-time for a stretch of 18 months, I didn’t take any leave at all in that time except the occasional unpaid day but more commonly just a re-shifting of my schedule.

So most of the places you expect to be open (restaurants, leisure centres, theme parks etc) will be operating normal (or longer) hours in the summer so plenty to do. Also, a lot of uni/student workers will staff places like theme parks, hostels, etc during the summer. I worked all my uni summers in various places on seasonal contracts.

But it’s true that businesses with more traditional office hours (ie. Monday-Friday jobs) may have more staff off in the summer and therefore be less responsive – this is especially true in universities if you want to contact academic staff etc.

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