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Do organisations in Europe implement a ‘summer shutdown’?

27 July 2023 4 min read

summer shutdowns in Europe

As the summer season is well under way in the northern hemisphere, we wanted to take a closer look at how European countries approach the sunshine and holiday mood and where you’re likely to see a ‘summer shutdown’.

In many countries across the continent, downing tools for extended periods of time between June – August is not uncommon. Employees go on annual leave and some businesses close down entirely for a summer break, as part of a cultural and traditional practice dating back decades.

It’s particularly common in the construction and manufacturing industries, in a practice that began decades ago. In fact, many factories in England would shut down for the summer during and after the industrial revolution. Today though, the practice isn’t unique to just those sectors.

Referred to as a ‘summer shutdown’, ‘August shutdown’ or ‘industrial holiday’ depending on the country – what do these types of holidays look like across Europe?

Countries with notable summer shutdowns

Many organisations in European countries typically tend to slow down, or halt operations altogether, with many employees going on holiday for long periods of time during July and/or August.

In Spain, it’s common for many employees to go on leave during summer – in fact it’s even mandatory for some, with their workplaces closing for a month. Working patterns can also change during the hottest summer months, with employees starting work an hour earlier in the morning and ending between 3-4pm.

It’s a similar story in France and Italy, and it’s not unusual to see bars, restaurants and other establishments closed during the height of the summer – despite it also being peak tourism season. The same is also true in places like Cyprus, Portugal and Greece.

The months of July and August are considered to be the hottest of the year in these countries, so it’s perhaps not surprising that many choose to leave stifling work environments behind in favour of more comfortable and relaxing recreation.

As for the Nordics such as Norway and Denmark – given the long, cold and darker winters, many choose to make the most of the lighter, warmer summer months whilst they can and enjoy a summer break to the full. Fellesfiere in Norway refers to a collective period of leave, known as a joint holiday, whereby as much as 50% of the Norwegian workforce takes a 3-week break, usually in July.

In Sweden, industrisemester or “industrial holiday” began as far back as 1938 when the country’s first statutory law surrounding annual leave was introduced. It became common practice for most industries to close down during July and for majority of the country’s workers to enjoy a summer break.

The practice has steadily waned over the years and is no longer the strict “shutdown” that it once was – but many employees still concentrate most of their annual leave entitlement into July and August.

The summer shutdowns can be frustrating for businesses around the world that are trying to trade with those in Europe or have investments in these countries. The globalisation of the market, however, has seen a decline in the summer shutdown practice – to allow for smoother international trade all year round. While shutdowns are still favoured by some businesses and employees, it’s no longer as widespread as it once was.

Managing leave around the world

Does your organisation operate from multiple locations in one country, or around the world?

edays provides the tools needed to help you become globally compliant, and enables you to manage leave accurately and efficiently across multiple departments and teams.

With group calendars, alerts and an easy staff holiday booking system, edays gives you the visibility needed to track all different types of leave, as well as effectively plan resources and employee time.

Click here to book a free personalised demo

Georgina at edays
July 27, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.