In the United States, no employer is legally required to give any worker a paid vacation day. This frequently leads to employee burnout, as people stay on the job even when they’re physically or mentally ill. We have some of the most retrograde vacation policies in the entire developed world.
In contrast, every single country that’s a member of the European Union must give their employees at least four weeks of paid vacation since it is mandated by law. Far from having an adverse effect on productivity like so many American business leaders fear, the European model for vacation days has been shown to have very little effect on the economy and makes for happier workers who have a better work-life balance.
In case all of this makes you want to move, here’s a list of some of the countries with the most vacation days, and what they offer their citizens.
In Italy, workers are entitled to a minimum of 20 paid vacation day per year, and some contracts are regularly negotiated to accommodate up to 25 days off. The average work week in Italy is 40 hours.
In addition to this vacation time, Italian workers also have access to a different category of time off, called ROL (Riduzione Orario di Lavoro). Employees have access to up to 104 hours of ROL every year, which is time set aside for family or personal needs. If someone needs to leave work a few hours early to help their parents or pick up a sick child from school, they’re able to use their ROL hours rather than their vacation days.
Italian workers also get 12 paid public holidays off every year.
In Poland, workers just starting out in a job are entitled to 20 days of vacation, which jumps up to 26 days as soon as they hit their 10th year of employment. Unlike many other countries, the years Polish people spend in post-secondary education counts as employment and adds to their years of experience.
There are also 13 paid public holidays in Poland that workers are entitled to take off and if they can’t leave work, they’re given an additional day’s wage in overtime. The average Polish worker spends about 40 hours on the job every week, although some high earners have been known to stretch that to 50 hours.
Spanish business culture has long been considered the most relaxed in the world, most likely due to their long-standing practice of taking a long lunch break in the afternoon, known as a siesta. This was originally a way to escape the hottest hours of the day. Now, companies in larger cities have been discouraging the siesta, but it’s still a part of everyday life in smaller towns.
Even with this long mid-day break, most Spanish workers spend 40 hours on the job per week. In addition to their 14 public holidays, workers in Spain can expect at least 22 paid vacation days per year.