This kind of thing makes me weep:
In 2000, the Dutch parliament passed the Working Hours Adjustment Act, perhaps the most important piece of time-balance legislation ever. According to the law, employers can refuse those workers who wish to switch to part-time work only if they demonstrate that such a reduction would cause serious financial hardship for the firm.
Such employees keep their jobs, opportunities for promotion and hourly pay. (European law requires that part-time workers be paid the same hourly rate as full-timers doing the same work.) Also maintained are health insurance and prorated benefits such as sick leave, pensions and vacation time. The law means a lot to working parents who wish to reduce the stresses of working and caring for children.
A 2007 Unicef study ranked children’s welfare in the Netherlands as the highest in the world. The U.S. was 20th of 21 wealthy countries studied. The Netherlands provides a clear example that you can have a thriving economy while working reasonable hours.
Europeans have a multiplicity of ways to reduce work time, including mandated paid sick days and family leave and offerings of sabbaticals to workers outside academia. But what most improves their time balance is the legal requirement that every European worker get at least four weeks of annual paid vacation time.
For Americans, the median annual paid vacation time has now dropped to little more than one week, according to recent polls. In 2007, only 14 percent of Americans were able to take an actual two-week vacation, and 29 percent got no paid vacation time at all.