Paid Time Off in Different Countries

The topic of annual leave never makes more sense than when travel season is in full swing. In this vacay mode article, we will go through some beginnings of paid vacation and the current trends in various countries.

Naturally, as the topic is broad and differs literally from country to country, the room for writing is practically endless. For that reason, we will primarily focus on the Western countries, and the ones we could not overlook whether considering top charts in PTO days or the least of them.

Of course, we could not exclude some data about the paid time off in Serbia.

Paid days off vary from country to country, or within different regions of a country due to many variables. These may include but are not limited to legislation, different benefits packages, the number of public holidays, and similar. Add to that list cultural and generational differences, years in service, maximum working hours per week, and the span just extends.



Amidst two World Wars, market crashes, and all the follow-up events in such an environment, one of the elements that slowly, but gradually entered the scene was the paid time off.

Just to take one example, thanks to a new rule allowing paid vacations, many working-class Britons experienced their first summers in the sun, sea, and sand in 1938. But it was a hard fight, with activists up against employers’ resistance and the rigidity of the government.

The fight had lasted for at least 30 years and it was followed by adjustments to reach at least satisfactory and acceptable equality for that matter between blue and white collar workers.

Let’s begin from the top of the charts.


kuwait vacations

It would be unfair to exclude Kuwait from this list as it is at the top of most charts with the most time off work. Although officially the employees in this country get 30 days of paid time off (which is still a big number). Add to this 13 paid public holidays which are also provided to employees, and you get the total paid vacation day count to 43. Additionally, if it is the first time doing the Hajj, employees are eligible for an extra 21 days of paid vacation after two years of continuous service with the same company.


austria vacations

Every employee in Austria has the right to 25 vacation days (based on a five-day work week) each year. This right extends to persons who work part-time or minimally. You are entitled to a sixth week of paid vacation after 25 years of work. When you begin a new job, it is nearly often the case that your vacation days accrue proportionally over time. It means a new employee would be entitled to two days of vacation after one month of employment. Of course, you need to agree with your manager about all vacation days in advance.

In addition to 25 vacation days, there are 13 national public holidays in Austria each year, as well as a few state holidays that are celebrated only in specific states.


malta vacations

All employees in Malta with a 40-hour workweek get 192 hours of paid leave annually. Using the assumption that you work 8 hours per day, five days per week, it is exactly 24 working days of yearly leave, or 4 weeks and 4 days. If your typical workweek is more or less than 40 hours, your vacation time should be modified accordingly.

Similar to Austria, your vacation leave hours begin to build up from the first day of work. Of course, here too before you may take time off of work, your employer must accept your leave request once you submit it.


finland vacations

Employees in Finland receive an average of 30 days of paid vacation each year from their employers. The dynamics of using these 30 days is usually four weeks for summer vacation and one week of winter vacation. Using up all vacation days in Finland is supported and employees are generally encouraged to take advantage of all the time off they have the right to.


portugal vacations

In November 2021, Portugal made news headlines with apparently a “game changer” law for remote workers.

In addition to being one of the first countries (and the first European) to respond to the changes that COVID-19 caused in working conditions, the Portuguese labor law enabled remote workers to have a healthier work-life balance. Namely, according to that law, a company may face a fine if contacting employees outside of the standard working hours.

Alongside this benefit, every calendar year, employees are entitled to a minimum of 22 working days of yearly leave. They have the entire month of April of the next year to enjoy their holiday. This is slightly different for new hires who may have a minimum of 20 working days of vacation per year.

When added to the number of public holidays – 13 of them in 2022 – this builds up to 35 paid days off. Not bad at all.


sweden vacations

It probably has to do something with geographical proximity and environmental similarities that in Sweden things are not very different to Norway when it comes to paid time off too.

You are entitled to five weeks of vacation time, or 25 working days, in Sweden too. The vacation regulations are governed by something known as “holiday legislation.” Employees who are covered by this legislation are entitled to five weeks of paid vacation time, four of which may be taken back-to-back in the summer months (June, July, and August).

Of course, public holidays are not counted here and they are added separately. In 2022, there were 12 of them, which added up to 37 days of paid days off.


usa vacations

Labor laws at the federal level do not guarantee any paid time off. In reality, it does not mean people work all the time of course. Although the number of guaranteed days to take some time off is somewhat different than in other OECD countries, employees in the States can plan their vacations too.

In many cases, full-time employees get 10 paid vacation days plus 6 days of public holidays on average.


japan vacations

Traditionally viewed as one of the hardest-working nations, the Japanese have built up a specific cultural environment when it comes to the paid days off too.

Depending on their tenure of employment, the law allows working Japanese people 10 to 20 annual leave days. Despite the laws requiring the usage of leave, the workplace culture in Japan is such that employees are hesitant to utilize their leave days and skip work out of concern for how it may damage their careers.

According to a survey, the average Japanese worker barely uses 60% of their annual leave, which contributes to issues with overwork and burnout. As a result, the Japanese government implemented a new regulation in 2019 that mandated an employee to take at least 5 days of leave annually, and the business must certify this compliance or risk fines.

Instead of the conclusion…

vacations serbia

According to the Serbian Labor law, for any calendar year, annual leave cannot be used for fewer than 20 working days. Naturally, any longer duration of paid annual leave depends on the circumstances of the specific case and company.

For example, most of the companies in the IT industry provide more than the obligatory 4-week paid annual leave. Additionally, there are also around 10 public holidays per year.


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Vesna Radović calendar

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