UK has shortest holiday entitlement in Europe

Aug 11 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Wide discrepancies continue across the EU in paid holiday entitlements. Research by Mercer Human Resource Consulting has shown that, when added together, statutory annual leave and public holidays can range from 28 to 39 days, depending on where you live.

The average leave and public holiday entitlements across all EU states is 34 days.

The UK and the Netherlands prop up the table with just 28 days off while Ireland gives 29.

At the other extreme, Greece, Austria, and Finland provide the most time off - 37, 38 and 39 days respectively. The figures are based on statutory entitlements for an employee working five days a week, with 10 years' service.

In terms of annual leave, the minimum number of days ranges from 20 to 25. There is far greater variation in the number of public holidays, with the Finns getting 14 while Britons receive just eight.

"Though there have been moves to harmonise employment practices in Europe, there's still a sizeable gulf in the amount of minimum paid holiday between member states," said David Formosa, European Partner at Mercer.

"In countries where leave entitlement is low, it's common practice for employers to give extra days as an employee benefit," he added.

Jane Robinson, a spokeswoman for Unison, the UK's largest trade union, said: "Our concern about this long hours, short holidays culture is the impact on the work force.

"Stress levels in the office are rising and we think the government has to address this problem as it's taking its toll on employees and employers."

But a spokesman for employers group the CBI said: "The amount of annual leave most people get and the amount they are entitled to is very different.

"Trade unions often call for more bank holidays. We think people would rather choose which days they take off rather than having particular days forced on them.

"Obviously people would like more time off, but it comes at a cost. We would damage our economic competitive position in the world if we gave ourselves more holidays."