The Mystery of Why Europe is Broke May Be Solved

The EU’s Court of Justice ruled earlier this week that if you happen to become ill during your ‘vacation” days, your employer must simply give you more vacation time.  Insert deep breath here.  This is not a typo, you will be given additional vacation time to make up for the fact that you were ill during your vacation.

“The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure,” the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg, ruled in a case involving department store workers in Spain.  “The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.”

So, the logical question becomes, what constitutes illness?  Say for instance you cut your foot on a rock while at the beach and spend part of your vacation time getting a doctor to take a look at it, you then can’t go to the beach the next day because it hurts a little.  Do you get the entire week again, or maybe just that day or two?  I used to travel a great deal in my younger days.  Several of those trips were to Mexico.  Every time I was there I met people from the UK.  So, if they drink the water and get an upset tummy they will get another vacation.

This policy is ripe for abuse and goes a long way in explaining why they have stagnant economies, higher unemployment, and just all around broke.  But hey, they get another vacation day if they get sniffles.   So all’s good.

This is so backwards that even The New York Times is questioning the wisdom of this policy:

With much of Europe mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment, the ruling is a reminder of just how hard it is to shake up long-established and legally protected labor practices that make it hard to put more people to work and revive sinking economies.

Everyone once in a while NYT says something that makes sense.  The more the government interferes with the private sector the more the people suffer in the long run.  The Europeans are not interested in fixing their problems.  This case makes that painfully obvious.  While this policy seems good on the surface, what it has done is make employers less likely to hire.  The more the employee costs, the fewer the private sector will employ.  It is simple math people.