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Paid vacation days by country: Know which countries top the list

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Who doesn’t love the solace of paid vacation days amidst their busy work schedules? Paid vacation days by country is something every employee would have searched at least once in their employment period.

Every country has its own list of holidays and paid vacation days.

Paid vacation days are those blocks of days that an employer gives the employee to take a break from work and come back refreshed. It can be taken together or in parts. Some countries provide long paid vacation days, while others have very few days, depending on the labor laws followed in the country.

Before we get into the country-based paid time off, let’s brush up on the basics of two associated terms: statutory vacation leaves and discretionary vacation leaves.

Statutory leaves

Statutory annual leaves, also known as vacation or holiday entitlements, are the legally mandated days off that employees are entitled to in a given year. Labor laws or employment regulations typically determine these leaves and are crucial to work-life balance and employee well-being.

The exact number of statutory annual leaves varies from country to country. Still, they are designed to allow individuals to take time away from work, get recharged, and spend quality time with their loved ones.

Discretionary paid vacation days

Discretionary paid vacation days are additional days off from work that employers may provide their employees beyond the mandated statutory annual leave entitlements.

It is not legally guaranteed and is at the employer’s discretion as a perk or benefit. Discretionary paid vacation days are often used to reward employees for their hard work, incentivize loyalty, and enhance job satisfaction.

Countries with the most paid vacation days in the world

Coming to paid vacation days, some countries stand out with an ample number of paid vacation days for employees to unwind and recharge themselves.. These nations prioritize work-life balance and understand the importance of rest and leisure.

Let’s explore the countries that offer the most paid vacation days in the world.

France

Topping the list is France, with its impressive 35 paid annual leaves a year. The country, renowned for its culture and work-life balance, ensures the employees get enough time to rejuvenate and enjoy. The generous leave policy is deeply rooted in the country’s concept of having essential time offs for personal well-being and productivity.

Germany

Next up is Germany, a country recognized for its strong work-life balance initiatives. German employees enjoy vacations in the range of 24-30 days annually. Germany’s labor laws prioritize workers’ physical and mental well-being, allowing them to disconnect from work and recharge fully.  Many Germans use their vacation time to explore the scenic beauty of the Bavarian Alps, take river cruises along the Rhine, or visit historic cities like Berlin and Munich.

Spain

The country is renowned for its vibrant culture and relaxed lifestyle. Spanish employees have about 22 paid vacation days per year. Spaniards value their leisure time and take full advantage of their annual leave to enjoy sunny beaches, savor delicious cuisine, and participate in lively fiestas.

Sweden

Sweden, often hailed for its progressive approach to work-life balance, grants its employees around 25 paid vacation days. Swedish philosophy emphasizes the importance of personal time, family, and well-being, and many employees use their vacation days to explore their country’s renowned archipelagos and enjoy saunas and spas.

Finland

The country ranks 1st position in the World Happiness Report 2023, and a healthy work-life balance is one of the reasons behind it. A land known for its pristine natural beauty and thriving design culture, Finland provides its workforce with 24 paid vacation days annually. Finnish employees utilize this time to relax in lakeside cottages, explore the Arctic wilderness, or witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights.

Austria, Denmark, Norway

Other countries that offer a notable number of paid vacation days include Austria with 25 days, Denmark with 25 days, and Norway with 25 days. These nations recognize the importance of providing their citizens ample time to rest, enjoy leisure time, and foster a healthy work-life balance.

By valuing rest and relaxation, these countries set a benchmark for achieving a harmonious work-life balance and serve as inspiring examples for others to follow.

Countries with least paid vacation days in the world

While some countries are known for their generous allocation of paid vacation days, there are others that lag behind in this aspect. These nations provide their employees with fewer days off, potentially impacting work-life balance and overall well-being.

Let’s delve into the countries with the least paid vacation days in the world.

The United States

A global economic powerhouse, the USA, stands out for its limited paid vacation policies.

On average, American workers are entitled to only eight national holidays while regional holidays vary among the states. An important thing to note is that, US does not have mandatory annual paid time offs. This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a work-focused mindset and a lack of federal regulations mandating paid time off.

While many employees in the U.S. try to make the most of their limited vacation days, it’s clear that there is room for improvement in providing adequate rest and leisure opportunities.

Japan

Another country with a relatively low number of paid vacation days is Japan. Traditionally known for its strong work ethic, Japanese employees receive an average of 10 to 20 paid vacation days, depending on their length of service.

However, cultural norms often discourage workers from taking their entitled time off due to expectations of loyalty and commitment to their jobs. This has led to a phenomenon known as “karoshi,” or death by overwork, highlighting the need for a better work-life balance and vacation culture in the country.

South Korea

South Korea, a nation recognized for its rapid economic development and emphasis on education, also offers a limited number of paid vacation days. Workers in South Korea typically receive 11 days of paid leave annually.

However, similar to Japan, the prevailing work culture places a strong emphasis on long working hours and dedication, often resulting in underutilization of vacation time. Efforts are being made to address this issue, including the introduction of policies encouraging employees to take their entitled leave, but progress is gradual.

China

The world’s most populous country and a global economic giant, China, offers paid vacation days depending on the employment contract, usually a very low number of days.

It’s important to note that China has undergone significant labor law reforms in recent years, aiming to improve workers’ rights. As the country continues to evolve, there is potential for increased emphasis on work-life balance and a higher allocation of paid vacation days.

Saudi Arabia

This middle-east nation is another one in the list of low paid vacation days. Workers in Saudi Arabia are typically entitled to only around 20 days of paid leave per year. This can be attributed to cultural factors and the importance placed on religious holidays rather than traditional vacation time.

However, it’s worth noting that Saudi Arabia is actively working on labor reforms, and there have been discussions about potential improvements in employee rights and benefits.

As global conversations around work-life balance and employee rights continue to evolve, it is hoped that these countries, along with others, will strive to provide more generous vacation policies, fostering a healthier and more fulfilled workforce.

Offer paid vacation days compliantly

As you have seen, the number of paid vacation days varies across the countries and you need to be aware of how many vacation days to provide your employees, in compliance with their country’s labor laws.

Multiplier, a SaaS-based EOR provider can help you ensure the employees receive the exact number of vacation days and thus boost their passion for work and productivity. Get to know more details on leaves and labor laws of any country you wish here or talk to our experts to learn ways of easily managing your global workforce.

Hiring and onboarding using Multiplier ensures you hire remote talent with locally compliant, fool-proof job contracts, offer emphatic benefits and disburse salaries accurately with absolutely nil errors in payrolls.

Hiring and onboarding using Multiplier ensures you hire remote talent with locally compliant, fool-proof job contracts, offer emphatic benefits and disburse salaries accurately with absolutely nil errors in payrolls.​

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