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International comparison: How many days of paid leave are you entitled to in Canada vs. elsewhere in the world?

Planning a vacation? Did you know paid time off varies globally? This article explores paid vacation days by country, helping you understand international norms. We also recognize vacations as excellent travel opportunities, so we’ll recommend custom travel insurance solutions to help you take advantage of your well-earned break.

European nations with generous paid leave policies1 

In Europe, several countries stand out for their generous approach to paid leave. If you’ve ever wondered about the number of vacation days you’re entitled to each year, you might find yourself a little envious. Among the top 10 most generous countries in terms of paid holidays, a whopping 8 of them are in Europe.

Austria, the reigning champion, offers an overall total of 38 paid vacation days, including 25 vacation days and 13 public holidays. Not far behind, we have France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Spain, all providing 36 days of paid leave. Meanwhile, Germany ensures a minimum of 20 days of vacation, along with an additional 10 to 14 public holidays (depending on the different states or “Länder”). Interestingly, many Germans are fortunate enough to enjoy up to 30 days of vacation, potentially boosting their annual total to an impressive 44 days of paid leave.

The United States: No guaranteed paid time off

It’s quite remarkable that among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, the United States stands alone in lacking dedicated leave laws that ensure paid vacation for employees. In this scenario, the duty of establishing a leave policy squarely rests on individual companies. If employees desire paid vacation, they must engage in negotiations to secure this benefit within their employment agreements. 

In practical terms, a quarter of U.S. employees do not have access to any paid leave throughout the year. Also, even among those entitled to paid time off, a recent survey disclosed that merely 48% of U.S. employees actually utilize all the vacation days allotted to them.3

Canada: Among the countries with limited paid holidays 

In Canada, there exist 18 public holidays, some of which are national, while others vary by province. As a result, Canadians typically enjoy an average of 9 public holidays, which holds true for Ontario as well.4 Canadian employees are also entitled to 10 paid vacation days, resulting in a total of 19 paid vacation days per year.

Across Canada, each province has its own labour code that governs mandatory paid leave. In Ontario, an employee with less than five years of employment is entitled to two weeks of vacation after each 12-month vacation entitlement year.5 For employees with five or more years of employment, three weeks of vacation is granted. The duration of paid time off also varies based on an employee’s years of service with the same company. The minimum number of paid vacation days remains consistent in other Canadian provinces, except in Saskatchewan, where three weeks of leave is guaranteed.

Top 10 countries offering the most paid time off

  1. Austria: 25 vacation days + 13 public holidays = 38  
  2. Malta: 24 vacation days + 14 public holidays = 38 
  3. Bolivia: 25 vacation days + 12 public holidays = 37 
  4. Greece: 25 vacation days + 12 public holidays = 37  
  5. United Kingdom: 28 vacation days + 8 public holidays = 36  
  6. France: 25 vacation days + 11 public holidays = 36 
  7. Sweden: 25 vacation days + 11 public holidays = 36 
  8. Venezuela: 24 vacation days + 12 holidays = 36 
  9. Spain: 22 vacation days + 14 public holidays = 36 
  10. Finland: 25 vacation days + 10 public holidays = 35

The 8 countries with the least paid leave7 

  1. USA: No guaranteed paid time off 
  2. Philippines: 5 vacation days 
  3. Singapore: 7 vacation days 
  4. Mexico: 6 vacation days + 7 public holidays = 13 
  5. Thailand: 6 vacation days + 13 public holidays = 19 
  6. Canada: 10 vacation days + 9 holidays = 19 
  7. Israel: 11 vacation days + 10 holidays = 21 
  8. Japan: 10 vacation days + 20 holidays = 30

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1 Unknown author. " Congés payés : TOP 30 des pays les plus généreux " Le coin du salarié, 

2 Sarah Min. "1 in 4 workers in U.S. don't get any paid vacation time or holidays " CBS News, Published May 24, 2019, 

3 Unknown author. " Aux États-Unis, la moitié des salariés ne prennent pas les congés auxquels ils ont droit " Courrier international, Published March 31, 2023, 

4 Guirec Gombert. "A combien de jours de congés a-t-on droit au Canada ? " Hello Workplace, Published February 11, 2016, 

5 Government of Ontario. "Your guide to the Employment Standards Act" Government of Ontario, Published November 22, 2017, Updated December 21, 2023,

6 Editorial team. " Comment fonctionnent les vacances payées? " Indeed, Updated January 6, 2023, 

7 Pierre Galouise. " Top 8 des pays avec le moins de congés payés, RIP les vacances " Topito, Published July 26, 2023,