Annual Leave Around the WorldReading Time: 4 minutes
We could all use some time off, especially under the extremely stressful times we currently live in. Some rest can do wonders for our productivity, creativity and problem-solving. However, vacation time is not the same for everyone. By annual leave, we mean how employers pay time off to their employees. In turn, they can do whatever they please with that free time. Annual leave would involve paid vacation days and paid public holidays. A paid holiday is a specific day on which employees are entitled to a day off with pay. For instance, New Year’s Day, National Day and Christmas Day are public holidays. Holidays vary considerably depending on the country.
Yet, there are other types of special leave such as parental leave or sick days, but it won’t be discussed here. If you’re interested, read our post on sick leave policies around the world.
In this article, we circle around the globe to look at annual leave in various countries. These countries will be presented from most to fewest paid vacation days and holidays. For a quick view of the amount of paid annual leave available to workers in any country, check out this very cool map.
The data below comes from a 2019 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the International Labour Organization and the WageIndicator Network.
Before we begin, it is also worth mentioning that a work week can vary greatly. Let’s keep in mind that depending on local legislation, regular work can go from 35 hours over 5 days to 48 hours over 6 days in a week. We have written posts on standard working hours in Europe, the United States and Asia. Check them out!
In Peru, Nicaragua and Brazil, workers are entitled to 30 days of vacation paid. Then they also allot 12, 9 and 8 paid national and religious holidays, respectively.
In Algeria, workers can leave for a total that cannot exceed 30 days, plus 11 public holidays.
France also has a mandate of 30 paid vacation days and 1 public holiday.
In Russia, a worker is entitled to 28 calendar days of paid vacation, along with 8 paid public holidays. They get these benefits after 6 months of continuous work.
The United Kingdom also requires 28 days but has no paid holidays enforced.
Many EU countries have set their own minimum. In order from most to least, here are the annual leave and the paid holidays in brackets: 25 paid vacation days in Spain (+14), Austria (+13), Finland (+11), Sweden (+11), Norway (+10), and Denmark (+9).
Furthermore, in Portugal, workers are allotted 22 days of paid annual leave, along with 13 paid holidays.
Then, in South Africa, as indicated in its Basic conditions of employment act, employees are entitled to 21 consecutive days of annual leave. It also translated to one day for every 17 days worked, plus 12 public holidays.
In Egypt, from its Labour Law, workers are also entitled to 21 days of paid annual leave. Yet, workers over the age of 50 can have 30 days of leave, with the addition of 13 paid memorial, religious and public holidays.
Back in Europe, thanks to a directive from the European Union (EU) pushing for at least 4 weeks or 20 working days, many EU countries share that norm: Germany (+13), Greece (+11), Belgium (+10), Italy (+10), Ireland (+9) and the Netherlands (+9). Switzerland is not an EU member. Yet they also ensure 20 paid vacation days and 4 paid holidays for their workers.
In the Oceanian continent, both New Zealand and Australia also have 20 paid vacation days with 11 and 8 paid holidays respectively.
In Pakistan, employees have access to 14 days of paid annual leave. Furthermore, they have 14 paid public holidays (religious festivals and memorial holidays).
In Argentina, with its Employment Contract Act, a worker can have 14 calendar days of leave, guaranteed. This applies for a length of service between 6 months and 5 years. Also, the government observes 11 public holidays. Vacation time extends to 21 days to a worker for service between 5 and 10 years. It moves to 28 paid vacation days for 10 to 20 years of service. Finally, they could have 35 calendar days of leave after more than 20 years of service.
In Japan, employers are required to provide at least 10 days of paid vacation to their workers, plus 15 paid holidays.
In Canada, according to the government’s website, workers are entitled to at least 2 weeks of paid vacation. This applies after just one year of employment. Canadians also get 9 public holidays under the Labour Code. After 5 consecutive years under the same employer, it’s 3 weeks of vacation. After 10 years, it’s 4 weeks.
In Mexico, under its Federal Labour Law, employees can have 6 working days paid for a vacation after one year of service. Then, they can earn additional paid vacation days for every subsequent year of employment. They also have 7 paid holidays.
Fewer Days, To None
In China, between 1 and 10 years of cumulative length of service a worker has the right to 5 working days of paid vacation, along with 11 paid holidays. Between 10 and 20 years of service, employees can have 10 days. After more than 20 years of work, they are eligible to earn 15 days.
In the United States, there is no paid time off. Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only OECD country that doesn’t have minimum paid annual leave implemented at the federal level. In reality, according to an article from HuffPost, a worker is likely to have 10 paid vacation days and 6 paid holidays on average. However, looking at the average only is misleading. Indeed, the disparity between workers can be extreme depending on full-time versus part-time status and U.S. states.
India also does not have federal provisions for annual leave compensation which can vary widely from state to state. An adult worker earns one paid day-off for every 20 days worked. Meanwhile, a worker under the age of 15 earns one paid day-off for every 15 days worked. Generally speaking, the annual leave is 15 and 20 working days for adult and young workers respectively. They also have 3 paid holidays throughout the year.