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Public holiday entitlement varies greatly around the world

  • September 10, 2014
  • United States, New York

 

  • Workers in India and Colombia enjoy the greatest number of public holidays (18)
  • Mexico provides the least generous public holiday allowance (7)
  • Western European countries amongst the least generous nations
  • Employees in the UK, Hungary and Netherlands receive the second lowest public holiday allowance (8)

 

Employees in India and Colombia benefit from the greatest number of public holidays in the world while Mexicans have access to the least, according to data from Mercer’s Worldwide Benefit and Employment Guidelines. The report is used by HR directors of multinational companies to help define the employee benefit policies in the countries in which they operate. It provides an overview of mandatory and private benefit practices, statutory regulations and employment conditions across 64 major economies.

Ed Hannibal, Global Leader of Mercer’s Mobility Practice, said, “Awareness of public and company holiday practices is important for those dealing with the overseas movement of employees. Moving staff abroad is essential in helping businesses develop local markets. If benefits like holidays that employees have in their home country are not comparable in their new location, then it may deter them from taking the position and the business could suffer.

“Public holidays are fluid so the data changes from year to year; countries often hold quadrennial or one-off holidays for specific cultural or religious events and some leave the final decisions to local governments. This data highlights the complexities involved – in just this small area of benefits – for those managing a globally mobile workforce. In order for HR leaders to govern policy and make the most efficient decisions on behalf of the company and its expatriates, accurate and timely assessment of practices is vital.”

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

Finland has the most generous provision of public holidays (15) in Europe, followed by Spain (14) whereas Hungary, UK and the Netherlands, have the fewest (8).

Austria has 12 days public holidays while Sweden, Italy, France and Denmark all provide employees with 11 public holidays. Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway and Portugal all have 10. Germany typically celebrates 9 public holidays but this varies between states (Bundeslӓnder) so some employees can receive up to 13. Interestingly, Norway and Sweden do not count Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve as public holidays although these are treated as such by employers. 

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).

“A smaller statutory holiday allowance provided to nationals is often offset by a more substantial provision of public holidays and vice versa. For example, the Philippines has a statutory minimum holiday entitlement of 5 days but has 14 days of public holiday,” said Mr. Hannibal. “Countries want to attract investment by showing they have a productive and available workforce. Additionally, Portugal has taken the drastic measure of suspending 4 of the country’s 14 public holidays in a bid to increase productivity and send a message to possible investors.”

Within the Middle East and Africa (MEA), United Arab Emirates is the least generous country with 9 public holidays. Conversely, Morocco has a much higher allowance with 14 public holidays.

The Americas

In North America, Canada provides the greatest number of public holidays (11), although this varies by province. The United States 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. Colombia has the most generous number of public holidays (18) while Mexico has the lowest (7). Argentina and Chile have 15 public holidays with Brazil offering 12.

Asia Pacific

Employees in India (along with Colombia) have the highest public holiday provision worldwide (18). Australia and New Zealand both dictate fewer public holidays than the region’s average with 9 and 11, respectively. Thailand and South Korea offer 16 public holidays followed by Japan (15), Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines (14). Pakistan (13) is followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan (12). Vietnam (10) has the lowest number of public holidays in the region below China and Singapore (11).

-Ends-

Notes for Editors

Data was compiled during the first half of 2013 and collected by local Mercer consultants. Public holiday figures exclude Saturdays and Sundays unless stated. It is important to note that public holiday practices may be interpreted differently based on local practice.

About Mercer

Mercer is a global leader in talent, health, retirement, and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth, and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 42 countries and the firm operates in more than 130 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global team of professional services companies offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and human capital. With over 55,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $12 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerInsights.

 

Figure 1: Table ranking the number of public holiday entitlements by country

Country

Regions

Public holidays (days) 2014

Ranking

India[1]

Asia Pacific

18

1

Colombia[2]

Latin America

18

1

Thailand[3]

Asia Pacific

16

2

Lebanon[4]

Middle East & Africa

16

2

South Korea

Asia Pacific

16

2

Japan[5]

Asia Pacific

15

3

Argentina[6]

Latin America

15

3

Chile[7]

Latin America

15

3

Finland[8]

Western Europe

15

3

Turkey[9]

Central & Eastern Europe

14.5

4

Indonesia

Asia Pacific

14

5

Malaysia

Asia Pacific

14

5

Philippines[10]

Asia Pacific

14

5

Russia[11]

Central & Eastern Europe

14

5

Venezuela

Latin America

14

5

Morocco

Middle East & Africa

14

5

Malta

Western Europe

14

5

Spain[12]

Western Europe

14

5

Slovakia[13]

Central & Eastern Europe

13

6

Pakistan[14]

Asia Pacific

13

6

Slovenia[15]

Central & Eastern Europe

12

7

Hong Kong

Asia Pacific

12

7

Taiwan[16]

Asia Pacific

12

7

Czech Republic

Central & Eastern Europe

12

7

Lithuania

Central & Eastern Europe

12

7

Brazil[17]

Latin America

12

7

Peru[18]

Latin America

12

7

South Africa[19]

Middle East & Africa

12

7

Austria

Western Europe

12

7

Cyprus

Western Europe

12

7

Greece

Western Europe

12

7

Croatia[20]

Central & Eastern Europe

11

8

Sweden[21]

Western Europe

11

8

China[22]

Asia Pacific

11

8

New Zealand[23]

Asia Pacific

11

8

Singapore[24]

Asia Pacific

11

8

Canada[25]

North America

11

8

Denmark[26]

Western Europe

11

8

France

Western Europe

11

8

Italy

Western Europe

11

8

Ukraine

Central & Eastern Europe

10

9

Vietnam

Asia Pacific

10

9

Poland[27]

Central & Eastern Europe

10

9

Latvia[28]

Central & Eastern Europe

10

9

United States[29]

North America

10

9

Belgium[30]

Western Europe

10

9

Luxembourg[31]

Western Europe

10

9

Norway[32]

Western Europe

10

9

Portugal[33]

Western Europe

10

9

Romania[34]

Central & Eastern Europe

9

10

Australia[35]

Asia Pacific

9

10

Bolivia

Latin America

9

10

Ecuador

Latin America

9

10

Puerto Rico

Latin America

9

10

United Arab Emirates

Middle East & Africa

9

10

Germany[36]

Western Europe

9

10

Ireland[37]

Western Europe

9

10

Switzerland[38]

Western Europe

9

10

Serbia

Central & Eastern Europe

9

10

Netherlands

Western Europe

8

11

United Kingdom[39]

Western Europe

8

11

Hungary[40]

Central & Eastern Europe

8

11

Mexico

Latin America

7

12

 


  

Source: Mercer’s 2013 Worldwide Benefit and Employment Guidelines.

*Data for Saudi Arabia has been omitted due to substantial variances in how companies interpret local practice

Notes

 

[1] Private establishments must observe national holidays – Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti – and holidays on major festivals such as festivals Dussera, Deepavali, Holi, Christmas, Guruparv and Eid. Variations are dependent on the state and are subject to sighting of the moon.

[2] Nine of the 18 public holidays are held on moveable dates.

[3] When a statutory holiday falls on a weekend holiday, the employer must substitute the following working day.

[4] Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various moon phases.

[5] If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the next Monday is substituted for the holiday.

[6] On December 31, banks are closed, but it is not considered a holiday. Holy Thursday (before Easter) and December 24 are not mandatory holidays, but widely celebrated. All national holidays are celebrated on the actual date, except for Malvinas Day, Flag Day, Death of General José de San Martín and Columbus Day, which are celebrated on the previous or following Monday.

[7] Some holidays move to nearest Monday or Friday.

[8] Midsummer’s Eve and Christmas Eve are not official public holidays by legislation, but they are included in the figures. Most employment contracts provide these two days as full holidays.

[9] Republic Day begins at 1pm and this creates a half day holiday.

[10] Chinese New Year and additional special (non-working) days are holidays declared under presidential decree for 2013. They are not standard holidays; there is no guarantee that the government will declare the same for the next year.

[11] If the public holiday falls on a day off, the working day following the public holiday is a day off, except for the days off falling on the New Year holidays and Christmas. Two days off falling on the New Year holidays and Christmas are transferred by the government to another day during the calendar year.

[12] There are 10 national paid holidays and an additional two that are decided by regional government and two by local town councils.

[13] St. Cyril, St. Methodius Day and All Saints Day fall on Saturday and are therefore not included in the total.

[14] Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various moon phases.

[15] Employees take public holidays on the day they fall. Public holidays falling on Sundays do not carry over to Monday, except New Year and Labor Day. National Resistance Day and All Saints Day falls on Saturday but is counted in the figure.

[16] If a holiday falls on a Sunday, the employer must reschedule it to the first working day after the holiday or to another day with workers’ consent.

[17] In addition to these holidays there are also city holidays that are considered supplementary public holidays.

[18] Several companies and many public organizations voluntarily grant a half-day on the day before Fiestas Patrias, Christmas and New Year.

[19] Whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it is a public holiday. All Saints Day falls on Saturday and is counted within the total.

[20] Anti-Fascism Day and All Saints Day fall on Saturday and are counted within the total.

[21] Some of the days before a public holiday are commonly non-working days: Easter Eve, Midsummer Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. All Saints Day falls on Saturday and is included in the total.

[22] Chinese Lunar New Year, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival are holidays that follow the date of lunar year, and are not fixed on a specific date.

[23] Waitangi Day and Anzac Day are observed on the actual day and are not transferred if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday.

[24] If a holiday falls on a rest day, the next working day after that rest day is a paid holiday. Or if the holiday falls on a day when the employee does not need to work under the contract, the employer may either pay the employees for the holiday at their gross pay rate or provide a substitute day off.

[25] Public holidays differ by province, for example the North Western territories also celebrate National Aboriginal Day on the 21st of June.

[26] Many agreements in the industry and public sector allow three extra holidays in each calendar year to blue-collar employees, who have a minimum of six months seniority and who have one or more children under age 14.

[27] Employees who work on public holidays have a right to another day off in the adopted calculation period. If not possible, they have a right to double time for each hour worked on a public holiday. This figure does not include All Saints Day which falls on a Saturday.

[28] If the holiday falls on Saturday or Sunday, the holiday is the next working day.

[29] Congress and the federal government designate 10 days each year as federal or legal holidays. But each individual state designates its own holidays, although federal holidays are usually observed. Private employers are not obligated to allow employees to have time off of work for federal holidays. It is at the discretion of the employer, and many employers choose to offer paid federal holidays as an additional benefit of employment for eligible employees. Every four years there is an inauguration day when the President is sworn in. The next inauguration day is in January 2017 and in this year there will be 11 public holidays.

[30] A public holiday falling on a Saturday or Sunday is rescheduled to another day, decided by the joint committee or by default at company level. Otherwise, it automatically reschedules to the first working day after the holiday.

[31] When a holiday falls on a Sunday, an alternative public holiday replaces it or the employee receives a compensation day.

[32] Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not official public holidays; de facto they are generally treated as such. Companies either close early or provide the entire day off.

[33] In order to increase the country’s productivity, government and church reached an agreement for the suspension of four national holidays until 2018: Corpus Christi (mobile holiday), Republic Day (5 October), All Saints Day (1 November), and Independence Day (1 December),

[34] St. Andrew’s Day falls on a Sunday and is included in the number.

[35] In regards to Australia Day and Easter Sunday, if a public holiday falls on a weekend, the next working day is usually substituted. There are usually at least two additional public holidays in each state or territory each year, which must also be observed. Some apply to certain industries, such as banking, or only to certain regions.

[36] Public holidays differ by state (Bundesland). The overall number ranges from 9 to 13 holidays in a calendar year.

[37] Full-time employees have a right to 9 public holidays in a leave year. Part-time employees must work at least 40 hours in the five weeks ending on the day before the public holiday to qualify.

[38] 1 August (Swiss National Day) is a federal holiday. In addition, each Swiss canton has authority to institute other public holidays in the calendar year.

[39] If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a “substitute” weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday, however employers are not required to provide paid leave on bank or public holidays.

[40] 1848 Revolution Day and All Saints Day fall on Saturday and are included in the total.

 

 

 

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