Vacation Days Around the World

Andrew Buck October 14, 2021

When it comes to average vacation days by country, the number of days per year available to employees differs greatly around the world.

This has rising implications in today’s world, as remote work becomes more widely accepted, and businesses with employees located around the world become less of an outlier.

Vacation days are one of the most sought-after employee benefits, which means it’s important to know what the standard is for your employees who may be located in different locations – not to mention the matter of adhering to local labor laws.

In this article, we’ll take a look at various annual vacation laws around the world, as well as how many vacation days on average employees get in each country.

We’ll also discuss why you may want to go above and beyond your minimum requirements, and provide a generous benefit package for your employees.

Further Reading: leave management in remote teams, particularly early-stage startups, can be a headache. This guide gives you a complete breakdown of all you need to know to ensure your system is efficient, and your staff stay happy, healthy and productive.

Vacation Days by Country

In this section, we’ll list the minimum vacation days required by law in various countries around the world, as well as the average number of days taken by workers in each of these countries.

We’ll touch on both, because it’s not always the best thing to stick to the minimum that the law says you need to provide. It’s just as important to stay competitive with what other companies provide, to make it easier to hire new staff and retain current staff.

Offering fewer vacation days to your employees also means a higher chance of them getting burned out, or issues with happiness and morale cropping up in your workplace.

Paid Vacation and Public Holidays – another thing to note is that paid annual leave and public holidays are separate. So, a country might have a minimum requirement for annual leave, but employees can get more paid time off on top because public holidays are typically paid time off as well. 

This handy Public Holiday Calendar shows you which countries observe which public holidays, and what day they fall on this year.

We’ve listed the average paid vacation in each following country, as reported by the OECD, as well as various other sources.

United Kingdom

Minimum paid vacation required by law – Legal minimum is 5.6 weeks per year. These include workers with irregular hours or zero-hour contracts

Average annual vacation days – One of the leaders in the world when it comes to paid vacation with 37 days on average. 

Public Holidays in the UK

Germany

Minimum paid vacation required by law – Full-time employees get a minimum of 20 days based on a 5-day week, or 25 days if based on a 6-day work week depending on the job. 

Average annual vacation days – An average of 33 paid leave days each year.

Public Holidays in Germany

Spain 

Minimum paid vacation required by law – A full-time worker gets 22 working days of annual paid leave. The law goes further to require that at least one leave period during the year must be 2 weeks long.

Average annual vacation days – 36 days on average, according to the OECD.

Public Holidays in Spain

Sweden

Minimum paid vacation required by law – Workers are entitled to 25 days of paid vacation each year. 

Average annual vacation days – When public holidays are included, Swedes end up taking more than 30 days of annual leave on average.

Public Holidays in Sweden

New Zealand

Minimum paid vacation required by law – All employees that work regular hours in a full-time or part-time job get at least 4 weeks of paid annual vacation. This does not include public holidays. 

Average annual vacation days – Around 30 days of paid vacation.

Public Holidays in New Zealand

Australia

Minimum paid vacation required by law – 7 paid holidays, plus a minimum of 20 paid vacation days according to federal law.

Average annual vacation days – Keeping with the legal requirements, Australians take around 28 days of paid vacation days each year.

Public Holidays in Australia

Singapore

Minimum paid vacation required by law – According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, an employee is eligible for paid vacation, after 3 months of service with a company. 

The number of vacation days increases each year, as follows.

This goes on till the 8th year and beyond when an employee gets 14 days of annual leave.

Average annual vacation days – Average of 7-14 days, as explained above.

Public Holidays in Singapore

China 

Minimum paid vacation required by law – Workers in China are allowed an increasing number of vacation days, based on the length in which they have worked:

Average annual vacation days – There is little data available on the average number of annual leave days taken in China, but some sources state that many companies actually provide lower than the legal minimum.

It’s also worth mentioning that in China, if employees don’t end up taking all their annual leave in one year, employers are required to pay 300% of the employee’s average daily wage for each unused vacation day.

Public Holidays in China

India 

Minimum paid vacation required by law – The Factories Act of 1948 entitles workers to 15 days of paid annual leave in India.

Average annual vacation days – Despite the annual vacation entitlement, many Indians don’t take any days off. Around 75 percent of Indians report feeling vacation deprived, one of the highest in the world.

Public Holidays in India

Canada

Minimum paid vacation required by law – The minimum vacation days in Canada depend on the length of employment. 

Average annual vacation days – Between annual leave and public holidays, employees in Canada get around 18 days of vacation each year

Public Holidays in Canada

United States

Minimum paid vacation required by law – At the federal level, there are no requirements for any paid vacation for employees. 

Average annual vacation days – Around 75 percent if employees in the USA still have access to paid vacation through their employers, and the average is around 10 days per year. 

Public Holidays in the United States

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How Many Vacation Days Should Your Business Provide?

It’s good to know the minimum vacation days requirements to make sure that you stay compliant with labor laws. It’s also good to get an idea about how many vacation days on average an employee gets in your country. 

But that’s not all to consider. What if you could use your vacation leave policy to gain a competitive advantage and optimize employee performance?

Let’s talk about a few things to factor in when deciding whether to go above and beyond with your vacation allowance.

Should You Stick to the Minimum Vacation Days Required by Law?

It would depend on where you’re located. 

If most of your employees are located in a place like the United Kingdom, where people are already quite happy with their vacation days as required by law, then the idea of getting even more time off might not make that much of an impact. 

By contrast, if you’re in the United States, where there are no federal requirements for any paid vacation, and employees on average get 10 days a year, then going above the minimum might delight your employees. It could play a decisive role when you’re trying to recruit top performers.

But there could be downsides to too much vacation as well. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons. 

Generous Vacation Leave Policy: Pros

Competitive advantage – As we already mentioned, a generous leave policy can give you an edge over the competition when it comes to recruiting and holding on to your best employees. 

We know that more vacation time is one of the most important benefits that employees consider when deciding whether to take a job or not. Employee benefits surveys show that vacation time ranks second only to health insurance. 

So, it makes sense that if you offer the most generous vacation leave package, then you’ll have an easier time recruiting high performers (who also tend to value their downtime). 

Boost morale and performance – Contrary to what many believe, more vacation time can actually improve performance for the business. 

Employees who take more time off report greater satisfaction and lower stress both at work and home. 

Happy employees who feel a sense of pride for their work are exactly what you need to propel your business to the next level.

And it will also reduce employee turnover, saving you a lot of money. Replacing an employee can cost up to 33% of their annual salary.

Prevent employee burnout – Giving employees a good amount of time off will allow them to recharge their batteries, both physically and mentally. 

Overworked employees can get burned out and overwhelmed. Not only will it decrease their productivity, but you might also find that they’re more prone to absenteeism and sick leave abuse, causing disruptions to workflow and team morale.

Generous Vacation Leave Policy: Cons

Just like too little vacation can lead to suboptimal team performance, too many days off can also cause some problems. 

Short-staffing – If you give too much time off to too many of your employees, it might become a challenge to efficiently manage the team absence calendar. 

You might frequently find yourself in a situation where too many team members are gone, and that it’s causing stress on the remaining employees. 

You need to maintain adequate staffing throughout the year to make sure everyone has an optimal workload and that tasks and projects are completed on time.

The key to avoiding issues with short-staffing, yet still offering a generous leave allowance for your team, is efficient leave management. Flamingo is here to help, as the most user-friendly leave management tool on the market.

Absenteeism – Too much time off can inadvertently create a culture of absenteeism in your company. 

While it’s recommended that you encourage your team to take enough time off to prevent burnout, their leave calendar needs to be managed efficiently. 

There should be a process of requesting and approving leave that’s geared towards optimizing workload and increasing team efficiency. 

Disrupted workflow – Too many absences can disrupt workflow. Projects often require multiple team members across departments to collaborate. 

Too many people on leave can create situations where the project gets stuck because someone is on vacation and there’s no one to fill in for them. 

Instead of allowing too many vacation days, one thing to consider could be unlimited PTO. It’s a different system altogether where everyone is free to take as much time off as they want, as long as tasks get done and they meet performance standards. 

The Bottom Line

Vacation time is an important part of today’s workplace. How much vacation you provide and how you manage your team’s absence calendar can significantly impact employee retention, morale, and ultimately your team’s performance. 

Take time to review your local labor laws to make sure you’re covering any minimum requirements as far as vacation days. 

Then consider if it makes sense for your business to provide additional vacation days to improve recruitment, retention, and boost employee morale.

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