6 People From Around the World Share What It’s Like to Have Nationally Mandated Work Vacation

The US is the only wealthy nation that doesn't guarantee paid-time off.

Among 21 wealthy, developed nations, the United States is the only country with a federal government that doesn’t guarantee workers paid-time off.

Instead, it’s up to employers to give their workers vacation days.

The result has been that many people hardly take any time at all, either because they are committed to their job or they fear coming across as lazy.

To see what the US might be missing out on, Business Insider spoke with a handful of people who live in countries where the government guarantees time off. Here’s what they said.

Sweden: 6 weeks off per year

How much time do you take?

In my role as a PR-consultant and advertising creative my mandatory vacation sums up to six weeks a year, with the possibility to add a seventh week instead of a pay raise.

How do you generally spend the time?

In terms of what I like to do [in] my free time, travel is the number one priority — city weekends, longer stays abroad. Or projects at home such as renovating the summer house.

Having the time off in longer stretches of time lets me relax and get an “outside” perspective of what I am doing. Where am I going with my career? Am I happy?

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

It makes me feel energized to be able to re-charge. It clearly makes my work-life balance better and my performance stronger.

Knowing it’s guaranteed also opens up the possibility for a bargain on flight tickets and hotel bookings – as I can do those long in advance.

Samuel Skwarski, PR/Creative, Volontaire

Denmark: 5 weeks off per year

How much time do you take?

Five weeks.

How do you generally spend the time?

When on vacation, I try not to stay too connected to work though it’s commonplace to “check in.” I love going abroad and I often attempt to scatter my vacations days across the year to have several, but shorter vacations; for example, going on an extended weekend abroad.

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

When going from being a student to entering the job market in a full-time position, five weeks mandatory vacation – as it is in Denmark – surprisingly feels like not a lot. It’s a trivial problem in an international context given that five weeks are still more than what is normal in most other countries.

Daniel Borup Jakobsen, VP Marketing, Plecto

France: 6 weeks off per year

How much time do you take?

We earn 2.5 days per worked month, for a total of 30 days or six weeks for a full year of work with the same employer.

How do you generally spend the time?

We travel if we can, mostly within France — to visit family, friends — and sometimes abroad — for a weekend trip in Europe or longer holidays to visit new countries.

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

We consider paid vacations a part of our compensation as wages are lower in France than some other countries. They matter. Personally, I believe they are important because they improve our productivity: we are not exhausted all the time like in the US.

Marie-Catherine Beuth, Managing Editor, Business Insider France

United Kingdom: 5.6 weeks (28 days) off per year

How much time do you take?

In all three of the jobs I’ve had post-[university] I have had 25 days plus [holidays]. I always take all of it and think Brits in general normally do, at least in most professions.

How do you generally spend the time?

I usually take a couple holidays, usually one in summer and one in the winter. I have family in New Zealand, so a trip there always takes a bit chunk, or, for example, last winter I had a friend’s wedding in Brazil. I also save some for if I have a weekday wedding or for a festival.

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

Great! I really look forward to all of my holidays. I have learnt from the get go to plan my workload before holidays so I can head off guilt free.

Rosie Fitzmaurice, Lifestyle Fellow, Business Insider UK

Australia: 4 weeks off per year

How much time do you take?

If you work somewhere for 10 years you accumulate, which means that when you leave you can possibly receive a payout of 40 weeks upon leaving a job at your final wage rate. It means the four holiday weeks you got at the age of 20 are paid as a 30-year-old.

It means you have two employee types. Those that like to accrue for a rainy day and those that take as many as they can.

How do you generally spend the time?

Those that accrue at some point are waiting for a payout or try and take huge six to seven week European holidays where you literally go everywhere. Can create real problems for businesses but means you can have epic honeymoons or time off when people have children.

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

I don’t mind this system. If I was running a business I would probably choose this system here.

David Boldeman, Account Director, Business Insider Australia

Netherlands: four times the number of hours worked per week

How much time do you take?

The minimum of paid leave in the Netherlands is four times the number of hours worked in a week, for one year of work. So if you work 40 hours a week during a whole year, you get 160 hours of paid vacation, which means 20 days (4 weeks).

In collective agreements between employers and organizations of workers usually a minimum of 25 days is agreed.

How do you generally spend the time?

Besides the summer vacation, about one million Dutch people a year take a week off for winter vacation to go skiing abroad. Popular destinations are Switzerland, Austria and France.

How does it feel knowing the time is guaranteed?

The minimum of 20 days paid vacation a year for full time employees is a good thing, I find, as it allows employees enough time off to really step back from work for a few weeks. Often this also helps to get new energy and creativity when you return to the office.

Jeroen de Boer, Managing Editor, Business Insider Netherlands

Originally published at www.businessinsider.com

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