The e-days blog

POSTED: 30 June, 2015

Holiday entitlement; How do different countries compare?

In the UK, 28 days of holiday entitlement each year should be legally granted to every full-time worker (on a five day per week work schedule). It is then up to the employer as to whether this entitlement includes public holidays or not. Here we take a look at how other countries compare to UK holiday entitlement.

A study by the CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research) has reported on each country’s laws surrounding minimum holiday allowance for employees in the top 21 richest countries in the world. The majority of these countries have a minimum holiday entitlement for full-time workers. In addition, some countries also guarantee paid public holidays such as Christmas and New Year, which must be granted to full-time employees. In some instances, such as in the UK, public holidays are incorporated into the employee’s total minimum holiday entitlement.

The below chart shows the minimum holiday entitlement and paid public holidays for each of these locations:

The EU

holiday entitlementsCountries within the European Union act under the Working Time Directive (1993) which sets a minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days for full-time workers. Some of these countries have set their own laws which require more than this lower limit.

France offers the most holiday entitlement at 30 days, while the Netherlands and Switzerland grant only the minimum under the EU law at 20 days, with no legal entitlement for paid public holidays. What’s more, Dutch employers must grant employees with their full holiday entitlement in one block wherever possible.

Belgium also award full-time workers with 20 holidays, with the addition of 10 public holidays. Belgian law doesn’t give employees the right to take these days off until the year after they have been earned. Denmark also doesn’t guarantee any paid holidays until after the first year of employment, offering 25 days in total.

Irish law operates similarly to the UK, but grants 9 public holidays which employers can choose to give as paid days off, or compensate with an alternative holiday.

Sweden offers 25 days as minimum with no guarantee of paid public holidays, and although outside the EU, Norway still offers 25 days entitlement with an additional 2 paid public holidays.

In Austria, the minimum holiday entitlement is set at 25 days (increasing to 30 days after 25 years of employment), with a total of 13 public holidays where workers must receive 24 hours of uninterrupted paid rest for each holiday. Portugal also has 13 paid public holidays, with an additional entitlement of 22 days.

Finnish holiday law prioritises the summer months and suggests that 4 out of 5 weeks paid holiday entitlement should be taken by employees between the beginning of May and the end of September, with exceptions made if this clashes with an organisation’s busy period.

Germany permits 24 days holiday, with 10 public holidays; Spain offers 22 holidays and 12 public holidays and Italy; 20 holidays with 11 public holidays.

Outside the EU

Rich countries outside of the EU and Europe also offer generous holiday entitlements to full-time workers. New Zealand and Australia provide 20 days of paid holiday, with an extra 10 public holidays in New Zealand and 8 in Australia.

Japan and Canada are less generous than the rest of the world where holiday entitlement is concerned and provide a minimum of 10 days entitlement to full-time workers. However, Canada grants a further 9 public holidays on top of this amount, whilst the Japanese aren’t guaranteed any paid public holidays. Japanese workers however do receive an additional holiday for every year in employment, up until a total of 20 working days.

The United States

The United States is arguably the most interesting country amongst the world’s richest in terms of holiday entitlement. Employers do not legally have to offer any paid holidays to workers within the country. This contrast to the other most developed countries in the world means that as much as 1 in 4 workers do not receive any paid holiday each year. However, despite an absence in holiday entitlement law, American workers in 2014 received an average total of 15 days paid holiday.

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