Europe heads to beach, Americans head to work (Reuters)

As Europe's workers take a few weeks of holiday this summer, their American colleagues will be lucky to get a few days off work, says a report published by the European Trade Union Institute.

Finland, followed by France, offers working people the most statutory vacation, at more than six weeks per year, the report, an international snapshot of how much paid leave people get by law and in practice in 21 countries, says.

The United States is the only country where employees have no statutory leave, and they get about half as much time off in reality as Europeans get, according to the report, compiled by the Washington-based Centre for Economic Policy Research.

"The United States is in a class of its own," the report says. "It is the no-vacation nation."

Andrew Watt, an economist at the Brussels-based European Trade Union Institute, said the report not only highlighted a conscious decision to ensure more free time in Europe. It also showed the errors many economists make when saying U.S. productivity and economic output is better than Europe's.

Canada and Japan, which require employers to give at least 10 days paid leave to their staff, are less generous than the Europeans, who get at least four weeks by law and often much more in practice, the report said.

In the United States, leave was generally harder to secure for people in low-pay and part-time jobs, it added.