Work Laws In America And How They Compare Around The World

It’s Memorial weekend, and for workers in America that means a weekend of work-free tradition. Fire up the barbeque! America prides itself on its work ethic and work free days, having 10 national holidays, but how does it compare to the rest of the world?

France has the highest state-required time off. That’s a required five weeks off a year, a dozen plus public holidays, and a MAXIMUM 35-hour work week. No paid overtime. No workaholic guilt. There are even laws being considered that would demand smart phones must be turned off in the evening to avoid any work-related emails/calls/anything. It may sound counterproductive, but France actually is rated among the most productive countries.

Japan also has notable work laws. Being a country known for overworking and serious dedication, Japan has expanded its work-free national holidays to 16 periods in the year. It is custom for workers in Japan to let required paid holidays go unused. By increasing the national holidays, the country’s lawmakers hoped to allow more time for the average worker to relax away from the job. However, national holidays are notorious for bad traffic and overbooked flights. Interesting note – the Japanese have a word for death from overwork. It’s a literal translation to ‘Karoshi,’ and the definition has been extended to include suicide caused by overwork. Japan’s latest national holiday, ‘Mountain Day,’ will officially begin on August 11, 2016.

Check out the Time-Off-By-Country chart HERE. Australia matches the 10 national holidays here in America, plus they require 4 or 5 weeks paid vacation time. There’s also the option to ‘cash out’ 2 weeks of the required time off to your employer if you’re a full-time employee in the outback country. China allows 5 to 15 working days off, depending on the time of employment. Finland law requires employers to give 5 weeks minimum time off for employees, a number that increases depending on the quality of union for your profession. The Netherlands also have 10 national holidays plus 4 weeks off minimum. Phew, to list it all would be overwhelming – for more info on statutory minimum time off, please consult the chart.

A major problem around the world during the recession has been a decrease in full-time positions and an increase of over-worked temporary positions. Still – national holidays offer relief to all. Take the weekend to enjoy time away from the office and with the family, and while stuck in traffic, you can take time to muse about which country to escape to. For my list; France. They sound like they’re on the right track!