Career Dose 13: Employment Rights Series

By Md Ziaoul Hoque

With the Holiday season just around the corner, you may find yourself looking forward to some well-needed time off.  Many industries are operating at a frantic pace in the lead up to the holidays, so everyone enjoys the “blissful calm” (or family mayhem!) of the holidays.  The Retail Industry often record their best month as December, there’s the relentless pace of the Hospitality Industry, employers in the Construction Industry might be trying their best to get as many projects completed and invoiced before the close of the year, Educational Institutions are wrapping up final assignments and the end of the term and the Recruitment Industry is booming at this time to support these various industries.

Time to take a break!

In the UK, we have a statutory right to 20 days of annual leave plus 8 bank holidays a year or 8 days in lieu if your company remains open on the bank holidays.  This means that if you are employed by a company in the UK of any size, you are automatically entitled to this time off and to be paid at your normal salary for your holiday.

However, have you ever considered what the right to annual leave looks like around the world?

It’s tough luck for folks in places such as the United States, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands!  Unfortunately, there is no law to say that workers are entitled to any time off at all in these countries.  Most companies offer something like 10 days (2 weeks) of annual leave as a company perk, however it’s common practise for this perk not to apply for the first year of service.

If you live in China, you can be entitled to anything from 5-15 days (1-3 weeks) of annual leave a year, however; this is a cumulative allowance.  This means that you would have to work a full year before being entitled to your first holiday, with an extra day added after every year of service, and capped at 10 additional days.  That’s a very long time to work without much of a break, in our opinion!

A few other examples of countries where statutory annual leave come in fairly low are: Mexico with 6 days, and Japan, Jersey, Trinidad and Tobago and Samoa – each offering 10 days, or just 2 weeks.

On a par with the UK are countries such as Australia, Lithuania, Romania and New Zealand, while workers in Denmark, Finland and France are a week better off with 25 days annual leave, or 5 weeks.

The country offering the best annual leave entitlement in Europe with a very generous 32-36 days depending on age is coincidentally the country with the highest per capita GDP in the world – can you guess which one?  It’s the multilingual, landlocked, super-educated Luxembourg!

Finally, if you are looking for a country where workers can expect a whopping 28-52 days of annual leave, look no further than Russia!  That’s right – depending on the region where you live in Russia, your age, length of service and sector you work in, you could actually nab yourself over 10 weeks of holiday a year!  That’s almost a week off every month!

So this holiday season – put your feet up, pour yourself some eggnog and don’t burn the turkey!  In the UK we’re actually pretty well looked-after when it comes to statutory annual leave.

Happy Holidays from everyone at KEC!  See you in 2022!


Mary-Jo Appaqaq

Work-Based Learning Officer