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Holiday entitlement by country: How do different countries compare?

7 August 2023 5 min read

holiday entitlement by country

The latest data from CEPR (the Center for Economic and Policy Research) reports on each country’s laws surrounding minimum holiday allowance for employees in the top 21 richest countries in the world. The majority of these countries have a minimum holiday entitlement for full-time workers. In addition, some countries also guarantee paid public holidays such as Christmas and New Year, which must be granted to full-time employees. In some instances, such as in the UK, public holidays are incorporated into the employee’s total minimum holiday entitlement.

Countries within the European Union act under the Working Time Directive which sets a minimum leave entitlement of four weeks for full-time workers. The below chart shows the minimum paid leave and public holidays for each of these locations in Europe and EMEA:

Holiday entitlement in EMEA countries

CountryMinimum holiday entitlementPaid public holidays
United Kingdom280

Holiday entitlement in the United Kingdom (UK)

In the UK, 28 days of holiday entitlement each year should be legally granted to every full-time worker (on a five-day per week work schedule). It is then up to the employer as to whether this entitlement includes public holidays or not.

Holiday entitlement in France

France offers the most holiday entitlement at 30 days, while the Netherlands and Switzerland grant only the minimum under the EU law at 20 days, with no legal entitlement for paid public holidays. What’s more, Dutch employers must grant employees their full holiday entitlement in one block wherever possible.

Holiday entitlement in Belgium

Belgium also awards full-time workers with 20 holidays, with the addition of 10 public holidays. Belgian law doesn’t give employees the right to take these days off until the year after they have been earned. Denmark also doesn’t guarantee any paid holidays until after the first year of employment, offering 25 days in total.

Holiday entitlement in Ireland

Irish law operates similarly to the UK, but grants 9 public holidays which employers can choose to give as paid days off, or compensate with an alternative holiday.

Holiday entitlement in Sweden

Sweden offers 25 days as a minimum with no guarantee of paid public holidays, and although outside the EU, Norway still offers 25 days entitlement with an additional 2 paid public holidays.

Holiday entitlement in Austria

In Austria, the minimum holiday entitlement is set at 25 days (increasing to 30 days after 25 years of employment), with a total of 13 public holidays where workers must receive 24 hours of uninterrupted paid rest for each holiday. Portugal also has 13 paid public holidays, with an additional entitlement of 22 days.

Holiday entitlement in Finland

Finnish holiday law prioritises the summer months and suggests that 4 out of 5 weeks of paid holiday entitlement should be taken by employees between the beginning of May and the end of September, with exceptions made if this clashes with an organisation’s busy period.

Holiday entitlement in Germany

Germany permits 20 days holiday, with 13 public holidays; Spain offers 25 holidays and 14 public holidays and Italy; 20 holidays with 10 public holidays.

The Working Time Directive in Europe sets a minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days for full-time workers, but in other countries across the world, the entitlement rules become a lot more complex…

Holiday entitlement in APAC countries

CountryMinimum holiday entitlementPaid public holidays
Hong Kong717
New Zealand2011
South Korea1515

Holiday entitlement in North America and Latin American countries

CountryMinimum holiday entitlementPaid public holidaysAdditional complexities
United States of America00No statutory minimum holiday entitlement or paid public holidays. Paid leave is at the discretion of employers
Mexico127After 1 year of service. Entitlement is increased by 2 days up to 20 additional days after each year of service
Guatemala1510Must have at least 150 days of continuous work
Honduras1011Increases to 12 days after 2 years of service, 15 days after 3 years, then 20 days after 4 years or more of service
El Salvador1511After one year of employment
Nicaragua159For every 6 months of service with the same company
Costa Rica1291 day for every month, plus 2 weeks after 50 weeks of work
Panama3010After 11 months of service, or 1 day for every 11 weeks of work
Columbia1518After 1 year of service. Also, employees must take at least 6 annual leave days per year
Venezuela150After 1 year of service
Ecuador1513After 5 years, an additional day of holiday is granted
Peru3012After 1 year of service
Brazil3012This decreases after 5 days of unplanned absence in the working year. As a result, employees can risk losing up to 24 days of holiday each year
Bolivia1511After 1 year of service, increasing to 20 days after 5 years of service, and 30 days after 10 years of service
Chile155After 1 year of service
Paraguay1212After 1 year of service. This rises 18 days after 5 years, and then to 30 days after 10 years
Argentina1415For up to 5 years of service, increasing to 21 days for up to 10 years of service, and 28 days for up to 20 years of service
Uraguay2001 additional day is rewarded after 5 years of service
Cuba2191 month of additional leave after 11 months of service
Dominican Republic1413Increasing to 18 days after 5 years of service
Puerto Rico150Standard leave entitlement

Holiday entitlement around the world is complex. But there’s a better way to manage it

As you can see the rules and regulations are holidays are vastly different from country to country. This is the same for all different rules and laws as well.

To ensure that your organisation has the tools needed to become compliant, you need a centralised solution that transforms this complexity into a seamless, automated process. Organisations relying on multiple platforms dotted around the world, whether it’s an HR or payroll system that’s unable to automate annual entitlements and carryover rules, through to clumsy paper and spreadsheets, are more prone to errors.

Click here to book a personalised demo of edays

Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
August 7, 2023

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.