Let’s Transfer to France!

 

My employer has an office in Paris but over the past ten months, I’ve been working (remotely) on a project with a client in Grenoble. We don’t have enough Euro transportation resources, so I got tagged.

During the ten months, I have been shocked by how much time those people take off. I know, we all joke about the French never having to work, but consider my counterpart – the business lead for the client. Since December 1, 2018, she has taken six weeks of vacation. She also took two weeks off because she was “fatigued.” I would estimate this woman to be approximately 40 years old, so the fatigue likely wasn’t from advanced age. She also doesn’t work Wednesdays. Oh, and they canceled all of the WebEx meetings for a month because “nobody in their office works in August.”

So I’ve been considering putting in for a transfer to the Paris office. Financially, I’m several years off from retiring – some tough years at the end of my self-employment. But the way I figure, I could transfer to France and be mostly retired while still drawing a regular paycheck.

Then this morning I ran across this article. While Mrs. TGA would be financially secure, I somehow don’t think she’d be amused. But hey! It would be like an extra life insurance policy, right?

I don’t see any drawbacks for me. Still can’t figure out why their economy remains so stagnant, though.

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There are 31 comments.

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  1. Annefy Member

    I don’t understand how anything gets accomplished in Britain. 

    My relatives get six weeks vacation right out of the gate. 

    Two of my cousins were laughing at an American employee who was confused when on day one of her employment she was handed a calendar and asked which six weeks she wanted off. 

     

     

    • #1
    • September 13, 2019, at 10:56 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. Annefy Member

    The lawsuit linked is hilarious and I can’t wait to show my husband. Back in the day he travelled quite a bit to the Far East. His favorite story is when he was offered the companionship of the two Wong sisters. 

    His only regret is that there was no one who appreciated his reply to their kind offer: “two Wongs don’t make it right”.

    • #2
    • September 13, 2019, at 10:58 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  3. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    Annefy (View Comment):

    The lawsuit linked is hilarious and I can’t wait to show my husband. Back in the day he travelled quite a bit to the Far East. His favorite story is when he was offered the companionship of the two Wong sisters.

    His only regret is that there was no one who appreciated his reply to their kind offer: “two Wongs don’t make it right”.

    Classic!

    • #3
    • September 13, 2019, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work. 

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad. 

    • #4
    • September 13, 2019, at 11:57 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    • #5
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. Valiuth Member

    Just look for the bare necessities.

    That’s why a bear can rest at ease.

    With just the simple bare necessities of life. 

     

    • #6
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:07 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  7. Annefy Member

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Concur. My Australian friends says Americans are “bred to work”. 

    He works very hard and is very successful – one of the reasons he came to America was so that he would be rewarded for it. I’ve also seen him book plane tickets on a whim as he’s “never been to Japan”. 

    • #7
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Yes, I think there is,. Pity, it seems to be in the middle of the Atlantic

    • #8
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Yes, I think there is,. Pity, it seems to be in the middle of the Atlantic

    So, you’re suggesting we all become dolphins? They often appear to work pretty hard too. Or are they playing? ;-)

    • #9
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Annefy (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Concur. My Australian friends says Americans are “bred to work”.

    He works very hard and is very successful – one of the reasons he came to America was so that he would be rewarded for it. I’ve also seen him book plane tickets on a whim as he’s “never been to Japan”.

    That is very Australian; they crave travel. 

    • #10
    • September 13, 2019, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Let’s not.

    • #11
    • September 13, 2019, at 1:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Skyler Coolidge

    A ruling like that would be very typical in any American court too. When you travel for your employer and you have an accident or die, no matter the reason as long as you weren’t doing something criminal, then they are liable. That’s well settled law.

    • #12
    • September 13, 2019, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    Don’t make Americans more like Europeans. Encourage lazier Americans to move to Europe.

    • #13
    • September 13, 2019, at 4:46 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  14. Annefy Member

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    The lawsuit linked is hilarious and I can’t wait to show my husband. Back in the day he travelled quite a bit to the Far East. His favorite story is when he was offered the companionship of the two Wong sisters.

    His only regret is that there was no one who appreciated his reply to their kind offer: “two Wongs don’t make it right”.

    Classic!

    Yeah … it’s a keeper. Reminds me of when he and I saw Evil Dead 3 – Army of Darkness (on opening night, during a thunderstorm, with a newborn in tow) and I heard the line “Give me some sugar”. 

    I knew in my heart I’d be hearing that line for the rest of my life.

    • #14
    • September 13, 2019, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Zafar Member

    https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

     

    • #15
    • September 13, 2019, at 8:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Zafar (View Comment):

    https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

     

    It is worth noting. 

    There might be a sweet spot. 

    • #16
    • September 13, 2019, at 8:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    Zafar (View Comment):

    https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

     

    If I read that right, all lines converge in 2010 because 2010 is the baseline, correct? Interesting – Romania has absolutely skyrocketed since 2000. Why do we never hear about success stories from other economies? I’m guessing it’s a combination of many things, but a huge factor would be that the US economy so dwarfs everyone else that it just doesn’t hit our radar. That and our national narcissism. Since I’m a college football fan I think of it in terms of Alabama. Their team is so dominant that the success or failure of Shippensburg State never twitches their needles.

    Sheesh – lousy night’s sleep. Rambling way too early in the morning!

    • #17
    • September 14, 2019, at 2:43 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    TBA (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

     

    It is worth noting.

    There might be a sweet spot.

    Yes

    • #18
    • September 14, 2019, at 2:47 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

     

    If I read that right, all lines converge in 2010 because 2010 is the baseline, correct? Interesting – Romania has absolutely skyrocketed since 2000. Why do we never hear about success stories from other economies? I’m guessing it’s a combination of many things, but a huge factor would be that the US economy so dwarfs everyone else that it just doesn’t hit our radar. That and our national narcissism. Since I’m a college football fan I think of it in terms of Alabama. Their team is so dominant that the success or failure of Shippensburg State never twitches their needles.

    Sheesh – lousy night’s sleep. Rambling way too early in the morning!

    Right. In the default display of that chart, those lines don’t show relative productivity between the countries shown, but growth in productivity (since 2010).

    It’s a lot more interesting if you change the drop-down that says “2010=100” to “US Dollars”.

    • #19
    • September 14, 2019, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Gromrus Member

    Skyler

    A ruling like that would be very typical in any American court too. When you travel for your employer and you have an accident or die, no matter the reason as long as you weren’t doing something criminal, then they are liable. That’s well settled law.

    Is this true for driving?

    I am a physician and staff a clinic once a month 2 hrs drive away, driving 4 hrs one day a month for this outreach clinic. I have a colleague who at her previous job knew a physician who was killed in a car wreck returning from an outreach clinic so it has crossed my mind if my hospital employer would be liable in any way.

    The necessities of scheduling for a small group with 24/7 hospital coverage often require that my long day of driving and doctoring falls at the end of a 7 day stint on call where I sleep at home but work ~14-16 hr days and am awakened as many as 3 times per night for a week. Coffee usually means that sleepiness is not generally an issue but I have wondered how fatigue may intensify as I age.

    • #20
    • September 14, 2019, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Annefy (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Concur. My Australian friends says Americans are “bred to work”.

    He works very hard and is very successful – one of the reasons he came to America was so that he would be rewarded for it. I’ve also seen him book plane tickets on a whim as he’s “never been to Japan”.

    Aren’t your Australian friends literally bred to be criminals and/or bastards?

    • #21
    • September 14, 2019, at 10:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. Zafar Member

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I would not completely disagree. But I think there could be a happy medium here.

    Concur. My Australian friends says Americans are “bred to work”.

    He works very hard and is very successful – one of the reasons he came to America was so that he would be rewarded for it. I’ve also seen him book plane tickets on a whim as he’s “never been to Japan”.

    Aren’t your Australian friends literally bred to be criminals and/or bastards?

    Both if we can manage it. 

    • #22
    • September 14, 2019, at 10:53 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. JVC1207 Member

    I worked in London at my company’s European office for 2.5 years, and I found it to be the happy medium scenario. They are much more reasonable than our US office about things like hours worked per week, weekend work, bereavement and family leave. But they work a lot harder than other Europeans. They were always complaining about how our Dutch and French clients were “never working”. This is an IT/professional services company.

    My husband and I loved our office over there so much that we would have stayed longer, but we wanted to move home closer to family and actually be able to afford a house.

    • #23
    • September 15, 2019, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. SkipSul Moderator

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    I think the challenge is on the “make less” side, so when this comes up as law (in Europe or here), the longer vacations tend to mandated as paid. And that’s the challenge – the work load really doesn’t go away, someone still needs to do it, but longer vacations mean less time to do it all while still paying people the same, or even paying for temp help or overtime for others to do it to cover for those who are absent. Absent some societal shifts (and hopefully keeping state and federal governments out of it), any change in attitudes will be slow and uneven.

    That being said, things are changing. Where you might have been able to offer an experienced middle manager only 2 weeks vacation (plus some sick days and personal days) a decade ago, now you have to offer at least 3 weeks, with more flexibility than before. This seems to be generational.

    Boomers and older (at least in my circles) tend to consider 2 weeks as extraordinarily generous, and look on people asking for extra paid time as “stealing” from their employers. As business ownership and management increasingly shifts to us GenXers, vacation allotments, and (more importantly) vacation flexibility is improving, but there is still a strong resistance to this, and from what I’ve seen the resistance is strongly correlated to age. Still, what is considered “standard” as a Paid Time Off (PTO – not called “vacation” as much anymore) offering is increasing, especially in this tight labor market.

    But at the other end of things: I’ve noticed among my millennial employees a great reluctance to use their vacation time at all. I have several who are now approaching 30, and they do not date or have families. They work, then they go home to their hobbies and online gaming – taking time off seems not to occur to them. I’ve had to remind them “It’s now September, and you haven’t taken more than a couple of days off when you were sick. Don’t you want to travel? Or do something besides work here?” It’s profoundly weird to me.

    • #24
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    My employer recently went to a system whereby you can take off as much time as you want – vacation, floating holiday, bereavement, sick days – everything rolls into the same bucket. You no longer have to “earn” vacation time. It used to be that I earned 5 hours every paycheck or 10 hours a month.

    The key caveat is that you need manager’s approval. So if you have someone who has burned through 2-3 weeks worth of sick time the manager has the discretion to limit how much vacation time they approve.

    I see it as a pretty fair system. When they switched over to this they paid you for time you already had banked depending on how long you had been with the company. A couple of my curmudgeonly colleagues complained vociferously that they had banked 80 hours but only got paid out for 40, but the solution is that they should just take an extra week off sometime during the year.

    I’ve always kind of enjoyed systems where I received “extra paychecks”. For instance, one employer from back in the 80s allowed 6 sick days per year. If you didn’t use any of them, you got a check for that time at the end of the year. Incentive for people not to get sick. But also incentive for people to show up to work when they’re hacking up a lung. With our new system I won’t get any of those extra paychecks, but I would not have under the old system until I quit or retired. So… shrug.

    • #25
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Skyler Coolidge

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Boomers and older (at least in my circles) tend to consider 2 weeks as extraordinarily generous, and look on people asking for extra paid time as “stealing” from their employers.

    One of the reasons I became self-employed (and much less well-off) is because of vacation time. In manufacturing you could not rely on your employer being around within a year or two (moving to Mexico or China being the usual reason) and with each change in employer you started off again with two weeks of vacation, if even that much. Even worse, when I worked at Dell, they didn’t track vacation time and considered it all used up on the first day of the year. So, when I got laid off from Dell I had finally gotten to the magic third week of vacation but never got to use them because I was laid off prior to using them. In the layoff I wasn’t paid for this time never used.

    I’m glad you are seeing people getting more vacation time. It’s been quite the racket for employers.

    • #26
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:28 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. The Great Adventure! Member
    The Great Adventure! Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Boomers and older (at least in my circles) tend to consider 2 weeks as extraordinarily generous, and look on people asking for extra paid time as “stealing” from their employers.

    One of the reasons I became self-employed (and much less well-off) is because of vacation time. In manufacturing you could not rely on your employer being around within a year or two (moving to Mexico or China being the usual reason) and with each change in employer you started off again with two weeks of vacation, if even that much. Even worse, when I worked at Dell, they didn’t track vacation time and considered it all used up on the first day of the year. So, when I got laid off from Dell I had finally gotten to the magic third week of vacation but never got to use them because I was laid off prior to using them. In the layoff I wasn’t paid for this time never used.

    I’m glad you are seeing people getting more vacation time. It’s been quite the racket for employers.

    I was self- employed for 12 years. On the plus side I could take as much vacation as I wanted. On the minus side I didn’t get paid for them. 

    • #27
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:46 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I might argue that Americans take the work-life balance too far to work.

    They have a lower standard of living in Europe in terms of things. I am not sure choosing to work less, make less, and spend more time with family is so bad.

    When I’m not working, the stuff I’m doing tends to cost money, so I’m not sure where I would want to be on the scale either.

    • #28
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Boomers and older (at least in my circles) tend to consider 2 weeks as extraordinarily generous, and look on people asking for extra paid time as “stealing” from their employers. As business ownership and management increasingly shifts to us GenXers, vacation allotments, and (more importantly) vacation flexibility is improving, but there is still a strong resistance to this, and from what I’ve seen the resistance is strongly correlated to age. Still, what is considered “standard” as a Paid Time Off (PTO – not called “vacation” as much anymore) offering is increasing, especially in this tight labor market.

    Two weeks is generally enough for me, as long as I get to take time off when I want it. When I worked at UPS for a while you had to pick your days off at the start of the year, which really annoyed me. You got plenty of vacation, just never when I actually wanted it.

    But at the other end of things: I’ve noticed among my millennial employees a great reluctance to use their vacation time at all. I have several who are now approaching 30, and they do not date or have families. They work, then they go home to their hobbies and online gaming – taking time off seems not to occur to them. I’ve had to remind them “It’s now September, and you haven’t taken more than a couple of days off when you were sick. Don’t you want to travel? Or do something besides work here?” It’s profoundly weird to me.

    To a certain extent, this is where I am, although I’m generally aware of what my days off are and I do have a few things to do. For instance, Ricochet meetups. As long as I can get time off for those, I’m fine.

    • #29
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. SkipSul Moderator

    Skyler (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Boomers and older (at least in my circles) tend to consider 2 weeks as extraordinarily generous, and look on people asking for extra paid time as “stealing” from their employers.

    One of the reasons I became self-employed (and much less well-off) is because of vacation time. In manufacturing you could not rely on your employer being around within a year or two (moving to Mexico or China being the usual reason) and with each change in employer you started off again with two weeks of vacation, if even that much. Even worse, when I worked at Dell, they didn’t track vacation time and considered it all used up on the first day of the year. So, when I got laid off from Dell I had finally gotten to the magic third week of vacation but never got to use them because I was laid off prior to using them. In the layoff I wasn’t paid for this time never used.

    I’m glad you are seeing people getting more vacation time. It’s been quite the racket for employers.

    It’s been weird (and I’m saying this as an employer): there are always a few people who never use up all their vacation time, and there are others who meticulously use up ever single minute, including the sick days (and of course others who will try to get more).

    To accommodate the former, I convinced my partners to allow for a limited rollover of unused days (saves people trying to crush in unused days in November and December), and to minimize abuse I’ve shifted to a more flexible accounting of days off, no longer separating out “sick” days from “vacation” days. I said to everyone: “OK, this year, you all automatically get 5 more paid-time-off days, but sick or well they count the same” – this way the guy who would occasionally take a Monday off as “sick” after he’d burned his other days could do so without having to lie about being sick (instead of recovering from a fun weekend). But this took a lot of nagging at my older partners to get through.

    All in all, the changes has been well received. People just have one block of days to manage, and if they still use too many then we can handle those on a case by case basis (and that eliminates the grumbling from those who do play by the book, but see others lying about “sick” days).

    Still won’t stop that one guy from coming in even when he has the flu though.

    • #30
    • September 15, 2019, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
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