July 5, 2018

American workers get less vacation than a medieval peasant

Business Insider - Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired.

But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.

Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off.

The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes, and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too.

In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year. As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"particularly high wages"! That's hysterical. After the Black Death killed off 25-50% of England's working class, the surviors asked for more money since they now had to do the work of the deceased, too.

But the owner class wasn't having that, so they passed the Statute of Laborers, which decreed that working people had to (1) accept the same wage as before the plague, even with the increased workload, (2) take the first job offered, and (3) stay at that job until released by the employer.

True wage slavery, though it turned out that enforcement was patchy.