Taking a break from work is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It’s no secret that the United States has some of the worst vacation policies in the world, with the average American worker receiving only two weeks of paid time off per year.
In the U.S., there is no federal law guaranteeing time off, and about one in four workers don’t get any paid vacation time or holidays at all.
This is in stark contrast to many other countries where paid time off is mandatory, and workers can get a month or more of fully paid holiday.
If you’re willing to leave the U.S. and move abroad, you could be entitled to much more paid vacation time while living and working as an expat.
Work Less, Live More: The Benefits of Moving Abroad for Better Work-Life Balance
If you feel like your work-life balance is out of whack, experts advise that taking regular time off provides the opportunity to pause and reflect, prioritize, and plan.
A new study conducted by Resume.io analyzed and compared how paid annual leave and public holidays are allocated in 197 countries.
Resume.io’s analysis of the annual statutory paid leave and paid public holidays laws in each country, which was based on government websites, the OECD, and the International Labour Organization, revealed that Iran has the most public holidays (27) and the most paid vacation days (53).
The United States, however, is the country with the joint fewest days of paid leave (0) and the second lowest number of paid vacation days in the world (10).
African and Middle Eastern countries dominate the top of the table, with Iran’s 26 days of paid leave and nearly a month of public holidays (27 days) being the most generous.
Panama is the only North American country in the top 100, with 11 days of public holidays and a joint top annual leave count of 30 days, guaranteeing workers at least 41 days off each year.
Additionally, the study found that the U.S. is the only developed country with no statutory paid leave, and only the Pacific Island countries of Nauru, Micronesia, and Kiribati have the same.
The study also revealed that San Marino is Europe’s capital of public holidays, with 20 public holidays, and the average number of paid public holidays from country to country is 11.8.
EU Workers Reap the Rewards of Paid Holiday Time
In Europe, the number of paid days off differs in each country; however, most all offer generous paid vacation days for their employees, with some giving up to five weeks of paid vacation a year.
The main reason why some European countries offer their workers four or five weeks of paid vacation is the European Union’s Working Time Directive.
This directive, which has been in effect since 1993, guarantees all workers in the EU at least four weeks of paid vacation per year.
The directive also encourages employers to provide additional days of paid vacation in order to provide workers with more time to rest and relax.
In addition to the Working Time Directive, individual countries in Europe have their own laws and regulations regarding paid time off.
France Leads the Way in Generous Paid Holiday Days for Workers in the EU
As time off is an essential aspect of the work-life balance, countries in the EU provide generous amounts of paid holiday for workers to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate themselves.
- France is known for its generous vacation policies. French workers are entitled to a minimum of 30 days of paid vacation per year. This entitlement is enshrined in French law and applies to all workers, regardless of the size of the company or the industry in which they work. In addition to paid vacation time, French workers also receive additional time off for public holidays.
- Germany is another country that has generous vacation policies. German workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid vacation per year. However, most German companies offer more than this minimum requirement. Additionally, German workers are entitled to an additional 9 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Spain is a country that takes its vacation time seriously. Spanish workers are entitled to a minimum of 30 days of paid vacation time per year. This entitlement is enshrined in Spanish law and applies to all workers, regardless of the size of the company or the industry in which they work.
- Denmark is known for its high standard of living and excellent work-life balance. Danish workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation time per year. Additionally, Danish workers are entitled to an additional 9 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Sweden is another country that places a high value on work-life balance. Swedish workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation time per year. Additionally, Swedish workers are entitled to an additional 11 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Norway (European Economic Area) is known for its beautiful landscapes and high standard of living. Norwegian workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation time per year. Additionally, Norwegian workers are entitled to an additional 10 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Finland is another country that values work-life balance. Finnish workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation time per year. Additionally, Finnish workers are entitled to an additional 11 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Austria is a country that takes vacation time seriously. Austrian workers are entitled to a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation time per year. Additionally, Austrian workers are entitled to an additional 13 days of paid public holidays each year.
- The Czech Republic has labor laws that mandate every employee is entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid leave annually after four weeks of employment. Public sector employees have an additional week of holiday entitlement, making it a total of five weeks of paid leave per year. In addition to the paid holiday entitlement, there are 13 state holidays in the Czech Republic.
- Belgium is known for its beautiful architecture and delicious food. Belgian workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 days of paid vacation time per year. However, most Belgian companies offer more than this minimum requirement. Additionally, Belgian workers are entitled to an additional 10 days of paid public holidays each year.
- Italy is a country that values relaxation and taking time off. Italian workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 paid vacation days per year. Additionally, Italian workers are entitled to an additional 12 days of paid public holidays each year.
Still Not Enough Vacay? Consider These Places
Remember experts agree that just as holidays work on a cycle, work-life balance and mental health require ongoing attention and maintenance.
If you’re tired of feeling burnt out and overworked or envious of your friends who live in other countries and seem to have endless vacation time, the study also found several countries with 30 days of paid leave per year.
Countries Where You’ll Get 6 weeks off (30 days paid leave per year):
- Equatorial Guinea
- Maldives (Imagine not only living in the Maldives but also getting over a month of paid holiday)
- Marshall Islands
Why Settle for Ten Days When You Can Have Weeks of R&R?
Whether you are looking for beautiful landscapes, delicious food, or a higher standard of living, there are dozens of destinations out there that offer generous vacation perks for all workers.
If you’re tired of working long hours without enough time off to rest and recharge and feel like moving abroad might be for you, many countries around the globe place a high value on work-life balance and recognize the importance of taking time off.
But, before making the leap, it’s important to remember that the number of mandatory vacation days, visa requirements, and state benefits packages greatly vary from country to country.
The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. You should contact a qualified and ideally regulated adviser in order to obtain up to date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. If you do not then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not accept any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.
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