Which countries give workers the most paid vacation days?


1938 was a landmark year for workers’ rights. Following decades of pressure from unions and the International Labour Organisation, the UK government passed the Holiday with Pay act; it meant that, for the first time ever, workers were entitled to one week of paid vacation time every year. 

But the job wasn’t done yet. The new law excluded many types of workers and unscrupulous employers exploited a loophole that allowed them to include public and bank holidays as part of the statutory annual leave allowance. 

Labour unions and workers demanded more, and holiday leave allowance increased incrementally over the following decades.

Then 2009 saw another major milestone; it brought the Statutory Annual Leave Entitlement Act, which meant all UK workers now had the legal right to 28 paid vacation days every year.

“Like many other modern worker rights, we take holiday pay for granted, ” says Ruth Malkin, Community Curator for the People’s History Museum in Manchester, UK, “Thousands fought and suffered to force companies and governments to do the right thing. Some of the early protesters were attacked, beaten, and arrested, while many others were fired for simply demanding a fairer work environment.”

“Remember this the next time you’re struggling to book a vacation day. Work can still be a frustrating experience. But, generally speaking, UK workers have never had it this good.” 

But what about workers across the rest of the globe? Are they getting the paid vacation time they need and deserve? The latest study from online CV builder Resume.io decided to answer these important questions.

Its research team put in the hours to analyse laws covering annual statutory paid leave and paid public holidays in 197 countries around the world. Then they translated all that data into several charts and maps revealing where workers get the most (and least) paid vacation time.

The study threw up some unexpected results, especially when looking at where workers get the least amount of paid vacation time. 

It’s not in the developing world. 

Instead, workers entitled to the fewest paid vacation days live in the country with the biggest and most advanced economy in all of human history – the USA.

US Federal laws mean companies are legally obliged to offer all workers ZERO paid holiday days. In the USA, holiday pay allowance is a  private agreement between workers and their bosses, with the average US employee getting 10 paid days off per year. That’s less than workers back in 1938!

See how that measly allowance compares with the rest of the world in the maps below.

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