In the European Union, all workers must have at least four weeks’ vacation per year, but in some States, such as France, they have up to 30 business days a year. In Spain, the minimum is 30 calendar days.
Given the proximity of the holiday season, we ask ourselves whether we have too few or too many holidays in our country, a question that, apart from personal opinions –some of which often resort to clichés and stereotypes-, can be answered with objective figures. If we focus on such figures, we see that Spain is not one of the States with the most holidays a year, if we compare it to the European Union or extend it to other countries in the world.
Firstly, we should take into account that the European Union requires member states to take the necessary measures to ensure that all workers have at least four week’s paid vacation a year (Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of November 4, 2003, concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time).
The Spanish legal system provides for 30 calendar days’ vacation as an essential minimum for all workers.
However, there are a number of European Union member states that have improved the regime by granting more vacation to their workers. According to the data compiled by the World Bank, our French and Finnish neighbors are those that have the most holidays, not only in Europe, but in the entire world: at least 30 business days a year. Close behind is the United Kingdom -with 28-, followed by Italy -with 26-. The majority of European countries have between 25 and 22 business days -Austria and Denmark have 25; Germany has 24; and Portugal 22-.
At the other end of the scale, we find countries such as Poland, Slovenia and Greece, which only have 20 business days of paid annual vacation.
Outside the European Union, there are nations with even fewer holidays, such as Canada –where workers are only entitled to 10 working days’ vacation during the first six years with a company and 15 days from then on- and the United States, where there is no national legal minimum and it is the company itself that determines the number of days, with substantial differences between different sectors of business.
Therefore, although rest periods never seem to be enough, the truth is that Spain is not the worse off with respect to annual paid vacation, if we compare it to the European average. Many of our neighboring countries have even more holidays than us, something to bear in mind when we hear the clichés about vacation and working hours in Spain, which are very often far from the truth.