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Countries With the Most Vacation Time

I need a vacation…

There’s nothing like a three day weekend to make you wish you had more time off… especially in America. Turns out most of the industrialized world get more vacation time than us. A lot more.

Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, figured out how many vacation days citizens of different countries get. The study looks at both ‘floating’ vacation days for individuals with at least 10 years of service within a given field (for which there are mandatory minimums according to law) as well as national holidays.

We’ll look at the top 20 in ascending order. The United States is not on the list (not even close), though we’ll take a closer look at America’s numbers at the end of this story.

Photo Credit: Eleven*Nicky

South Korea

Vacation Days: 19 days

Public Holidays: 15 days

Total Paid Time Off: 34 days

That’s definitely a good amount of vacation time, but according to JustLanded.com, they work plenty hard for their time off. “Korea has one of the highest average workweeks and overtime hours in the world,” the site reports.

Photo Credit: Andrew Turner

Denmark

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 9 days

Total Paid Time Off: 34 days

In addition to the good amount of vacation time, Denmark appears to have a pretty egalitarian working environment. “When you work in Denmark, your possibilities are often good for exerting influence on your company and co-determining the content of your work,” according to the blog ExpatInDenmark.com. “There is a tradition for delegating responsibility, allowing employees to participate in decision-making and investing in the employees further education and competence development.”

Photo Credit: jimg944

Cyprus

Vacation Days: 20 days

Public Holidays: 15 days

Total Paid Time Off: 35 days

They may get a lot of time off – and the benefit of that nice Mediterranean climate – but Cypriots put in a long day and it starts early. “Most offices and businesses work from 8am-5.30pm, with a break from 1pm-2.40pm,” according to Prospects, a British careers site. Gotta love the long lunch though.

Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

Luxembourg

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 10 days

Total Paid Time Off: 35 days

Aside from the solid vacation day allotment, workers in Luxembourg enjoy some other benefits. “Many employers pay a 13th month ‘bonus’ to their employees; a few even add a half of a 14th month’s pay to that, usually payable at the end of the year,” according to JustLanded.com. “The government of Luxembourg has granted permission for Sunday work to a few industries that operate continuous processing lines, as well as to a few of the tourist industries. Sunday work, however, must be entirely voluntary and is always paid at double the normal salary rates.”

Photo Credit: Eurapart

Norway

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 10 days

Total Paid Time Off: 35 days

The Norwegian government has passed laws designed to ensure a healthy working environment. According to the European Working Conditions Observatory, “The Norwegian working environment act stipulates that there must be a balance between the ‘working life’ and the ‘private life.’ The main focus is that there has to be a possibility both to participate in the working life and to have a ‘family life.’”

Photo Credit: frenkieb

Slovakia

Vacation Days: 20 days

Public Holidays: 15 days

Total Paid Time Off: 35 days

Not only do you get nearly two months of paid time off per year in Slovakia, but the state also helps you raise your kids. According to European Employment Services (EURES), “The child benefit is a state social benefit by which the state contributes to the upbringing and support of the dependent child of the qualified person. The qualified person may claim the benefit by submitting a written application to the Office of labour, social affairs and family at the place of his/her permanent or temporary residence.”

Photo Credit: Elin B

Portugal

Vacation Days: 22 days

Public Holidays: 13 days

Total Paid Time Off: 35 days

Despite the generous vacation allotment, Portuguese workers face some pretty serious challenges… in particular, the economy. “It's very important to be aware that the Portuguese economy is extremely sluggish. Unemployment is high there. Earnings are low - well below the EU average - and many Portuguese are forced into low-level self-employment because of the lack of jobs,” according to GoWorkAbroad. “The truth is that no one in their right mind would go to Portugal for the work opportunities alone. People go for other reasons - like the sun, sand and lifestyle - and try and earn enough of a living to make their presence there sustainable.”

Photo Credit: Robert Nyman

Spain

Vacation Days: 22 days

Public Holidays: 14 days

Total Paid Time Off: 36 days

According to SpainExpat.com, they love the long weekends in Spain. Well, who doesn’t? But they seem to go above and beyond.  “Holidays in Spain are taken on the exact day they fall whether that be midweek or weekend. The holiday is not moved to the Monday or Friday to create three day weekends as is often done in other countries. This means that a large percentage of people take days off, a “puente” (bridge), to create four or five day long weekends. For example, if a holiday falls on Tuesday everyone also takes Monday off, “bridging” their holidays so to speak,” the site says.

Photo Credit: flydime

Japan

Vacation Days: 20 days

Public Holidays: 16 days

Total Paid Time Off: 36 days

Along with plenty of vacation time, many Japanese workers enjoy lifetime employment guarantees, though the practice is becoming more uncommon and comes with a few negative side effects, such as lower overall salaries.

“The idealised notion of lifetime employment has undergone changes through the years. A segment of young people chooses to become “freeters”, switching from one part-time job to another for more freedom and less responsibilities,” according to The Star Online. “ The economic meltdown forced big companies to retrench staff and terminate employment contracts. The laid-off were evicted from their company-run quarters. Many slept in Internet cafes with private rooms, or in capsule hotels with coffin-like individual compartments. When they went broke, they ended up living on the streets.”

Photo Credit: saturnism

Sweden

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 11 days

Total Paid Time Off: 36 days

It’s worth noting that the website of the Swedish Work Environment Authority, a government organizations whose “objective is to reduce the risks of ill-health and accidents in the workplace and to improve the work environment in a holistic perspective,” is available in both Swedish and English, whereas no American counterpart seems to exist. Go to the U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA’s sites and you’ll see there’s nothing terribly holistic about either of them.

Photo Credit: LHOON

Poland

Vacation Days: 26 days

Public Holidays: 10 days

Total Paid Time Off: 36 days

Apart from the vast amount of vacation time, there are some other important differences  between American and Polish offices. But there are some similarities too. “Polish work places are both more and less hierarchical than US ones,” says one poster on PolishForums.com. “On the one hand, formal deference to the boss is expected, on the other hand, you're free to chase down the boss with your personal problems no matter where they are or what they're doing.”

Photo Credit: ryarwood

United Kingdom

Vacation Days: 28 days

Public Holidays: 8 days

Total Paid Time Off: 36 days

In addition to the generous guaranteed allotment of vacation time, British workers enjoy a number of other workplace protections. According to AdviceGuide.org.uk, Brits can take paid time off for union activities, job hunting if they are being laid off, for maternity, paternity and adoption leave and they have the right to request flexible working schedules in order to care for young children or aging family members.

Photo Credit: Dimitry B

Greece

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 12 days

Total Paid Time Off: 37 days

Sure, Greece is beautiful. And yes, workers there get plenty of vacation time to enjoy that beauty. But there are some pretty serious workplace concerns, according to one site.

“A very common problem in Greece, whether you are a foreigner or Greek, is getting paid,” according to the site In2Greece.com.  “It is a very unfortunate fact that many people have ended up working for nothing. One way to protect yourself is to ask your employer to pay you on a daily or weekly basis. This is a way to at least not lose more than a week’s pay, which is bad enough, but not a major catastrophe.”

Photo Credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com

Malta

Vacation Days: 24 days

Public Holidays: 14 days

Total Paid Time Off: 38 days

Malta, a chain of islands in the Mediterranean known for its jewel encrusted falcons, also enforces a number of protections for its workers beyond vacation time, though average salaries are low compared to other EU countries. “Wages are often regulated by collective agreements at enterprise level, and must be at least equivalent to the legal minimum wage. All wages are topped up by a mandatory annual wage increase based on the inflation rate,” notes JustLanded.com.  “The average working week is 40 hours and is legally topped at 48, of which 8 are paid as overtime. A typical working day would start at 8.30am and finish at 5.30pm and include a long lunch break.”

Photo Credit: marfis75

Austria

Vacation Days: 25 days

Public Holidays: 13 days

Total Paid Time Off: 38 days

Beyond the vast amount of vacation time, Austrians benefit from very generous, and guaranteed, bonuses. “InAddition to the regular salary an employee in Austria is additionally paid a vacation bonus (so-called 13th monthly salary) and a Christmas bonus (so-called 14th salary), each amounting to a full monthly salary; these bonus payments are however subject to lower taxes,” according to EURES.

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Finland

Vacation Days: 30 days

Public Holidays: 10 days

Total Paid Time Off: 40 days

Apart from paid time off, the list or social benefits that Finns enjoy seems endless. According to Expat-Finland.com, they include:

- family allowance

- student financial aid

- maternity allowance

- sickness allowance

- cash benefits for parents

- reimbursement of medical expenses

- unemployment allowance

- child care subsidies

- disability allowance

- rehabilitation allowance

- general housing allowance

- private day-care and child home care allowance

- school transportation subsidy





Photo Credit: decade_null

France

Vacation Days: 30 days

Public Holidays: 10 days

Total Paid Time Off: 40 days

Ahhhh. Imagine living in Paris and having two months of vacation time every year. Actually, try not to imagine it because you’ll just get really, really depressed. Apart from all that time off, the French have some pretty substantial recourse if they think they’ve been fired unjustly. “If you have worked for more than two years and your company has eleven or more employees, a judge deciding you have been unfairly dismissed can force your re-employment with full benefits. An employer deciding not to re-employ can be ordered to pay compensation equivalent to at least 6 months' salary (with 2 years or more in employment) or compensation for damages (less than 2 years in employment),” according to JustLanded.com.

Photo Credit: pdbreen

Russia

Vacation Days: 28 days

Public Holidays: 12 days

Total Paid Time Off: 40 days

Russia’s vacation time is indeed enviable, but remember, the free market is only a couple decades old and they’re still working through some kinks when it comes to the workforce. According to the website of the School for Russian and Asian Studies , “Most businesses pay their employees once a month and sometimes 'experience delays,' sometimes for six or seven weeks. Western companies are more reliable.”

Photo Credit: thisisbossi

Lithuania

Vacation Days: 28 days

Public Holidays: 13 days

Total Paid Time Off: 41 days

Lithuania is tied for first place with the most total paid time off. 41 days. Not too shabby. And if you fall into a variety of other special categories, you get even more time off. “Employees under the age of 18, single parents with a child under the age of 14 or a disabled child under the age of 16, disabled employees and others defined by the law are entitled to annual leave of 35 calendar days,”  according to the Business International JobCentre. That means 48 days total, including public holidays.

Photo Credit: Helmuts

Brazil

Vacation Days: 30 days

Public Holidays: 11 days

Total Paid Time Off: 41 days

We can think of no better country in the world in which to receive more than two full months of paid time off. Clearly, leisure time is important to the good people of Brazil.  According to JustLanded.com, “The Brazilian Labour Law prescribes an annual vacation of 30 days which should be taken all at once or divided in two parts (one half must be of at least 20 days).” You read that right. The government forces you to take a full month off every year. And then you can take another two weeks some other time. And the whole time YOU’RE LIVING IN FREAKIN’ BRAZIL! And they’ve still managed to grow their economy like crazy.

Photo Credit: over_kind_man

The United States of America

It should come as no surprise to any American reading this that our dear nation provides no guarantees for paid time off. We do have 10 federal holidays, though many of us work through them too. Mercer figures that the average American employee who’s been with a company for 10 years gets 15 vacation days. That seems like a VERY high estimate to us. Ian Harrison, writing in AskMen.com, contextualizes the U.S. vacation situation quite nicely.

“The reality is that the amount of vacation time available to U.S. workers is at the whim of U.S. employers. While there may be some truth to the fact that a lack of government intervention in this matter is a major reason for the global dominance of the U.S. economy, we are at an extreme end of the work-life balance spectrum. And to many, the end is the wrong one,” he writes.

However, he goes on to say, “To be sure, U.S. production, wealth and work ethics are the envy of the industrial world. Is there a correlation between this jealousy and the fact that the country is the only one without a paid vacation law? Perhaps.”

Still. Two months? Oh, to be Brazilian.

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