Leave Management

Countries with the Most (and Least) Paid Holidays in the World

Find out which countries have the most generous paid holiday laws in the world...
Sean QuinnPosted on Monday, June 19th 2023

In most countries, employees are legally entitled to take days off work, usually with full pay. Some of these days may be taken freely whenever the employee choses (usually known as annual leave or paid vacation days), and some may be national or regional Public Holidays (or Bank Holidays) which are always observed on the same date.

Which country has the least paid holidays in the world?

The United States of America has the least generous holiday laws, with employees having no statutory rights to paid time off work. Employees in the USA are entitled to zero days paid vacation a year, and there are no mandated paid Public Holidays either.

However, many private employers do choose to offer paid vacation. This is entirely at their own discretion though, so they're able to set their own rules and policies to dictate when employees can take their leave.

Which country has the most paid annual leave?

The country with the highest statutory annual leave allowance in the world is actually Andorra.

After a year of employment, employees are entitled to 30 full days of leave. The country celebrates an additional 14 Public Holidays too, meaning most employees in Andorra would benefit from a generous 44 days of paid leave every year.

What's more, there are 4 days of mandatory rest throughout the year (1st January, 14th March, 8th September and 25th December). If employees are asked to work on these days, they must receive an additional 2 days of leave in return, or receive triple their usual pay.

Which country has the most public holidays?

Iran tops the charts for the most public holidays, and also has the highest number of combined paid holidays in the world; an employee's statutory entitlement is a whole month, and there are an additional 27 paid Public Holidays throughout the year.

What is the standard amount of annual leave?

The amount of annual leave employees are entitled to varies from country to country, but most of Europe has similar labour laws. Statutory entitlement is usually around 20-30 days, with additional Public Holidays in each region. For example, employees in the UK receive 28 days of paid leave per year, and employees in Ireland receive 30.

Which countries work a 4 day week?

Belgium is the first country in Europe where employees are entitled to work 4 days a week, as opposed to the usual 5. Since 2022, employees can now request that their hours are condensed into 4 days.

Employees working 5 days a week were already entitled to 30 days off across the year (combining their annual leave and public holiday allowances) - so taking an extra day off each working week could allow them a further 46 days away from the office.

Iceland has also successfully trialled a 4 day work week on a huge scale, with the government reducing the number of hours in a full time week from 40 to 35 as a result.

Results of 4 day week trials in the UK and rest of Europe have been mixed overall, so it may be a while before other governments follow the lead of Belgium and Iceland.

Interesting holidays from around the world

Carpet Day (28th May) and Melon Day (13th August) in Turkmenistan

These two unusual holidays celebrate two products that Turkmenistan's people are proud of; their hand woven carpets, and their muskmelons. 1992 marked the first Carpet Day, which celebrates the long tradition of carpet weaving in the country. Melon Day was established in 1994 by the country's first president, in order to celebrate the new crossbreed of melon; the Turkmenbashy melon was named after the president himself, and praised for its taste and aroma.

Korean Alphabet Day (9th October) in South Korea

Hanguel Day celebrates the birth of the Korean writing system, and is celebrated in both North and South Korea as an official holiday. Prior to the invention of the Korean alphabet in 1443, Korean’s used forms of Chinese which were often difficult to learn. The invention of their own language was intended to improve literacy rates, and is now a source of national pride.

Dragon Boat Festival (late May or June) in China

For the past 2000 years, there have been festivities in China to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar Calendar (usually around May or June in the Gregorian calendar). Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated over 3 days, with activities centering around good health and warding off evil.

The fifth day of the fifth month is culturally considered to be unlucky, with poisonous creatures such as snakes and spiders beginning to emerge on this day, along with illnesses spreading more rapidly. The date also marks the death of famous poet Qu Yuan, who drowned in the Miluo River; locals sailed boats out into the river to keep evil spirits away from his body, perhaps explaining the origin of the Dragon Boat races celebrated today.

Don't forget to make a note of the Public Holidays in the UK and Ireland for this year (2023)

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