Many businesses in the UK award workers with their full annual holiday entitlement (28 days including public holidays for full-time workers) at the beginning of each working year. This can usually then be requested and taken throughout the year when approved by the employer. Although some organisations might require workers to take holidays during certain times, there is no national law that requires all UK workers to take holidays during set periods of time.

Holiday entitlement laws across Europe don’t follow the same rules set by the UK. Many countries require staff to take holidays in block periods or at certain times of the year. Additionally, many countries also apply an accrual holiday process, whereby workers will only receive their paid holiday entitlement once they have worked a set length of time over the course of a working year.

Here we look at how holiday entitlement laws vary in other European countries:


Workers in France are eligible for annual leave from their first month of employment. This accrues at a rate of 2.5 days per month, with the working year running from June to May. Many workers will have the option to take 24 days of this entitlement at once, but most organisations require for at least 12 of these days to be taken between the months of May to October.


Finland’s entitlement process requires that holiday is also accrued monthly. Holidays are pro-rated at 2 days paid leave per month in the first year of employment and 2.5 days for each month following. Four weeks of holiday entitlement must be taken between the beginning of May and the end of September, with the rest to be used any time before May the following year.


Holiday is accrued on a yearly basis in Denmark, but workers in their first year of employment can take prorated holidays of 2.08 days per month for 5-day work week. Despite this, employers by law do not have to pay for any annual leave in an employee’s first year of work.

In Denmark, the total holidays allowed (25 days) must be used in block periods of time. One holiday block must be made up of 15 days consecutive leave, whilst the remaining 10 are required to be taken at least 5 days at a time.


Workers in Belgium operate under an accrual process but do not have the right to take any holiday entitlement until after the year it has been earned. This means that Belgian workers are not guaranteed any paid holiday in their first year with an employer.


Employers in Greece must offer full holiday entitlement after the first year of work, prorated in the first year for the amount of time they’ve been employed. If an employee has worked more than 8 months, they are entitled to take their holiday during a minimum of 2 consecutive weeks.


In Italy there is no national rule that determines whether holiday should be accrued, however full annual holiday entitlement (20 days excluding public holidays) should be taken as one block of holiday wherever possible.


Like Italian workers, the Dutch are also advised to take their annual holiday entitlement over one consecutive timeframe, or can split their holidays into periods of at least 2 weeks. Holidays should also fall between the dates of April 30th and October 1st, unless this conflicts with business operations.


Holiday entitlement in Portugal is accrued during a holiday year commencing January 1st. If the holiday year ends before an employee has worked for 6 months, leave may be used before June 30th. Holiday can be broken into periods of at least 10 days, but as with many other countries in Europe, wherever possible, all holiday should be taken at once.

Read the previous e-days blog post to find out how the amount of holiday entitlement varies across the world.