Holiday Entitlement by Country: How Do Different Countries Compare?

By Sabrina Munns | Absence | 5 min read

A study by the CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research) has reported 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 (1993) which sets a minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days for full-time workers. The below chart shows the minimum holiday entitlement and paid public holidays for each of these locations in Europe and EMEA:

Holiday entitlement in EMEA countries

Country Minimum holiday entitlement Paid public holidays
France 30 11
United Kingdom 28 8
Austria 25 13
Norway 25 10
Denmark 25 11
Finland 25 11
Sweden 25 9
Portugal 22 13
Spain 22 14
Italy 20 12
Belgium 20 10
Germany 20 10
Ireland 20 9
Greece 20 12
Netherlands 20 0
Switzerland 20 7

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 prioritizes 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 organization’s busy period.

Holiday entitlement in Germany

Germany permits 24 days holiday, with 10 public holidays; Spain offers 22 holidays and 12 public holidays and Italy; 20 holidays with 11 public holidays.

Working Time Directive (1993) 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

Country Minimum holiday entitlement Paid public holidays
Australia 20 10
Bangladesh 11 11
China 5 11
Hong Kong 7 17
India 12 15
Indonesia 12 15
Japan 10 16
Malaysia 8 11
New Zealand 20 11
Singapore 11 11
South Korea 15 15
Taiwan 7 12
Thailand 6 13
Vietnam 12 10

Holiday entitlement in North America and Latin American countries

Country Minimum holiday entitlement Paid public holidays Additional complexities
United States of America 0 0 No statutory minimum holiday entitlement or paid public holidays. Paid leave is at the discretion of employers
Mexico 6 7 After 1 year of service. Entitlement is increased by 2 days up to 12 additional days after each year of service up
Guatemala 15 10 Must have at least 150 days of continuous work
Honduras 10 11 Increases to 12 days after 2 years of service, 15 days after 3 years, then 20 days after 4 years or more of service.
El Salvador 15 11 After one year of employment
Nicaragua 15 9 For every 6 months of service with the same company
Costa Rica 12 9 1 day for every month, plus 2 weeks after 50 weeks of work
Panama 30 10 After 11 months of service, or 1 day for every 11 weeks of work
Columbia 15 18 After 1 year of service. Also, employees must take at least 6 annual leave days per year.
Venezuela 15 0 After 1 year of service
Ecuador 15 13 After 5 years, an additional 1 days of holiday is rewarded
Peru 15 12 After 1 year of service
Brazil 30 12 This 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
Bolivia 15 11 After 1 year of service
Chile 15 5 After 1 year of service
Paraguay 15 12 After 1 year of service. This rises 18 days after 5 years, and then to 30 days after 10 years
Argentina 20 15 After 6 months of service. This rises after each year of service, allowing up to 35 days. The government also adds “bridge holidays” which can vary each year
Uraguay 20 0 1 additional day is rewarded after 5 years of service
Cuba 22 9 1 month of additional leave after 11 months of service
Dominican Republic 10 13 Standard leave entitlement
Puerto Rico 15 0 Standard 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 organization is compliant, you need a centralized solution that transforms this complexity into a seamless, automated process. Organizations 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.

Book a free demo to see the many differences Edays can make to your business.

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