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How Much Paid Vacation do You Receive?

29 May 2013

We love surveys! This morning we brought you the results from one showing how many Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque, and now we have another, indicating how much paid vacation time  Canadians get, on average, each year. But don’t get too excited. Canada ranks third-worst on the list, being beaten out only by Japan and the U.S.A.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research, and it studied 21 affluent nations, comparing the amount of paid vacation days residents in each country can expect to receive. The results are surprising. Those who are in regions where recession recovery has not gone well and is still on-going still get the most paid vacation time. While those who have made a huge recovery, such as the U.S., or those who were never really in big trouble, such as Canada, have the least.

As you can see from the chart above, Austria and Portugal ranked the highest, with both countries actually requiring their workers to take off 35 paid vacation days a year. Germany came next with 34 paid vacation days being granted to every worker. Interestingly enough, Spain and Greece – two areas that were ravaged by the recession and that are still in trouble – also have some of the highest amounts of paid vacation days, at 34 and 26 respectively.

John Schmitt, the lead author on the survey, says that he doesn’t see any real change from last year’s results of the same survey, and this year’s.

“It’s quite surprising how little change there’s been in vacation policy given the big movement towards austerity,” he says. “It speaks to how important it is to so many people in different countries.”

But he says, just because countries like Canada and the U.S. may not rank so high on the list, this is not an indication that vacation isn’t important to them, but rather that they’re worried about what will happen if they were to even consider asking for time off. Especially paid time off.

“We have a high level of economic insecurity,” he says about both Canada and the U.S. “That makes people very nervous about both asking for vacation and taking vacation if they have it available. People are afraid that if they take vacation they’re not going to get a promotion, or are more likely to be laid off if there’s a round of layoffs.”

He also says that you can’t judge one country’s wealth by the amount of vacation time they’re allowed to take. Germany for instance has a much lower unemployment rate than the U.S., although they’re given many more paid vacation days.

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