Sunday 21 January 2018

How we stack up on the public holiday front

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

CHEER up. The sun is (supposed) to come out and the long weekend is stretching ahead of us.

The June bank holiday weekend has arrived and Met Eireann is doing its bit to boost consumer sentiment by telling us the weather will most likely be good to us.

It's one of the best long weekends of the year. Unlike the August bank holiday, when the usually damp, mild days of summer prepare to give way to the damp, chillier days of autumn, June is full of hope. Hope that we may yet be in for a scorcher.

But have you ever wondered how we compare on the holiday scale to the rest of the world?

We're somewhere in the middle. Out of 30 countries surveyed, we're in 13th place.

According to a study by released earlier this year, Russia tops the list with 12 national public holidays and a statutory minimum annual leave entitlement of 28.

Italy and Sweden are in second place with 12 and 11 national public holidays respectively, followed by Finland, France, and Norway, all with 10.


Ireland has a statutory minimum annual leave entitlement of 20 days, with nine national public holidays.

Our nearest neighbours, the UK, have eight public holidays this year. (They were given a special extra one last year to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.)

The most hard-worked country in the survey appears to be Mexico, which has a minimum annual leave entitlement of seven days, and just six public holidays.

A separate study by consultants Mercer in December 2011 shows that workers in the UK have one of the most generous statutory holiday entitlements at 28 days, while those in the US have the least with no statutory entitlement.

Mercer pointed out that US federal law does not mandate pay for time not worked and holiday policies vary widely.

Many organisations provide three weeks of holiday after five to 10 years of service, while unionised employees generally have holiday time specified under collective agreements.

But the story is markedly different in Latin America.

Venezuela workers receive 24 days' paid leave, plus 12 public holidays, whereas employees in Asia fair pretty poorly when it comes to paid leave with Japan, Australia and New Zealand topping the list with 20 days.

But India, Thailand and Malaysia do largely well when it comes to public holidays at 16, while Japan, South Korea and the Philippines all have 15, according to Mercer. Now, where's my bucket and spade?

Irish Independent

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