Mercer: UK has 2nd lowest number of public holidays

15 September 2014

For employees looking for much time off, the UK is probably one of the least attractive  places to work. A new research from Mercer shows that UK employees receive the second lowest number of public holidays, trailing only Mexican employees. With more than 15 public holidays a year, employees in India, Colombia, Lebanon, South Korea and Thailand are dubbed the ‘luckiest’.

Every year consulting firm Mercer conducts research on employee benefit policies across 64 major economies, including on public holiday entitlement*. The results reveal that the number of public holidays differs strongly per country, due to for instance country-specific heritage and one-off holidays for cultural or religious events. Employees in India and Colombia have the highest public holiday provision worldwide (18), while at the other end of the spectrum the Mexicans and nationals of three European countries (UK, The Netherlands, Hungary) have to live with the lowest public holiday allowance.

Public Holiday Entitlements around the World

Looking specifically at Europe, Finland has the most generous provision of public holidays (15), followed by Spain (14) and Austria (12). Germany typically celebrates nine public holidays but this varies between states (BundeslÓ“nder) so some employees can receive up to 13. Sweden, Italy, France and Denmark all provide employees with 11 public holidays while Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway and Portugal all have 10. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the Turkish Government mandates the greatest number of public holidays (14.5) followed by Russia (14) and Slovakia (13). The Czech Republic and Lithuania both have 12 public holidays followed by Croatia (11), Poland and Ukraine (10) and Serbia and Romania (9).

In North America, Canada provides the greatest number of public holidays (11), although this varies by province. The U.S Government provides 10 federal public holidays however private employers are not obligated to allow their employees to take these days off.

Latin America is home to the highest and lowest public holiday provision of any of the countries surveyed, although the continent also demonstrates the largest inequality (Colombia vs Mexico). Argentina and Chile have 15 public holidays with Brazil offering 12.

Mercer - Holiday Entitlements

Within the Middle East and Africa (MEA), Lebanon is the most generous country with 16 public holidays, while conversely United Arab Emirates is the least generous country with nine public holidays.

* Public holiday figures exclude Saturdays and Sundays. The researchers add that public holiday practices may be interpreted differently based on local practice.