How paid vacation time is different around the world

Paid annual leave differs dramatically depending on the culture.

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Paid annual leave differs dramatically depending on the culture.
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KIRAYONAK YULIYA/Shutterstock

  • Taking vacation time can help keep your productivity levels high and reduce stress from the daily demands of a full-time job.
  • Some countries, like Brazil, are entitled to 30 days a year of paid annual leave, while others like Singapore average seven to 10 annual vacation days.
  • Here’s a roundup of how vacation time varies in 15 countries around the world.

It’s summertime, and the living is easy – depending on where you live and work, that is. Many people (in the northern hemisphere, at least) have vacation on the brain right now, but if you don’t have paid time off to burn, you might be stuck in the deep freeze of your air-conditioned office.

Countries across the world vary significantly when it comes to the amount of paid vacation days that workers receive according to official labor laws. Read on for how 15 nations vary in their approach to paid annual leave – including the good old USA.

These numbers apply to full-time workers unless otherwise noted and are minimum amounts as dictated by the government. Employers can increase annual leave amounts at their discretion.


Brazil

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Commuters waiting to board a bus in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

After a year of employment at a job, workers in this South American country are entitled to30 days of paid annual leave, according to Deloitte. Additionally, employees are granted a vacation bonus equal to a third of their monthly salary.


Spain

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Summer holiday season begins as tourists flock to beaches in Benidorm, Spain in July 2015.
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David Ramos/Getty Images

In Spain, an employee’s holiday schedule is decided in a mutual agreement between the employee and employer and may never be less than 30 calendar days in a 12-month period. Additionally, a paid vacation day cannot be replaced with financial compensation, according to theEuropean Commission.


Australia

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Sydney, Australia.
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Eugene Tan/Hausmann Communications via Getty Images

Down under, full-time employees get four weeks of paid leave for every year they’re at a given job, according toFair Work Ombudsman. Employees who work on a shift schedule, such as police officers and nurses, are usually entitled to five weeks of paid annual leave.


New Zealand

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Commuters make their way to work in Wellington, New Zealand.
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Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand natives enjoy one of the best paid annual leave policies in the world, receiving four weeks of paid annual leave after a year of employment, based on the standards listed on theMinistry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


United Kingdom

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Commuters at the London Clapham Common Tube station.
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Oli Scarff/Getty Images

According to theGov.uk, in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks (about 28 days) of annual holiday leave.


Denmark

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And they’re continuously ranked one of the happiest countries in the world.
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Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

It seems like they’ve got something figured out in the Nordic countries. A new bill, issued in February 2018, called the Danish Holiday Act allows Danish workers to get25 daysof paid annual leave. The bill also allows employees to take paid leave in the same year they accrue it.


Sweden

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Commuters on their phones in Stockholm, Sweden.
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By Michael715/Shutterstock

Swedes enjoy 25 days of paid annual leave, as outlined in theAnnual Leave Act of 1977.


France

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French workers get 25 vacation days.
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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

French workers are eligible for paid leave after one month of work, according to the European Commission. They get five weeks of paid leave per year.


South Africa

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Cape Town, South Africa.
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David Rogers/Getty Images

The Department of Labourin South Africa stipulates that workers must receive 21 consecutive days of paid annual leave, one day off for every 17 days worked, or one hour off for every 17 hours worked.


Argentina

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Dancers perform at Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

According to theInternational Labour Organization, employees who have worked for at least six months with the same employer (over a 12-month period) receive paid leave, ranging from 14 days (for workers with less than five years with the company) to 35 days (for workers with 20 or more years with the company).


Canada

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Toronto, Canada.
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Inga Locmele/Shutterstock

In most provinces, Canadian employees receive a minimum of two weeks of vacation for every year of employment, as listed on theGovernment of Canada’s website. After six consecutive years of employment with the same employer, workers are entitled to three weeks of paid annual leave.


Pakistan

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Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan.
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By Homo Cosmicos

In Pakistan, all workers (except contract and temp workers) receive a minimum 14 days of paid annual leave after a year work, according to Paycheck.pk. Some professions, like mining, exceed that amount of paid time off for workers.


Japan

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Japanese workers receive 10 to 20 vacation days.
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Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Seniority makes a difference in Japan, where, according to theNagoya International Center, workers receive anywhere from 10 to 20 days of paid annual leave, depending on experience. Employees get PTO starting at the six-month mark of employment with a company.


Singapore

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The Singapore skyline at night.
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Chris McGrath/Getty Images

According to theMinistry of Manpowerof the Singapore government, workers in Singapore get seven to 14 days of paid leave annually, depending upon how many years they’ve been employed.


United States

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Grand Central Terminal, New York City.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Finally, theUnited States Department of Labordoes not provide a legal minimum for paid annual leave – it’s completely up to the employer to decide. About 74% of American workers have access to paid vacation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.