Mercer HR research finds UK has least holiday entitlement in Europe

The UK is bottom of the pile when it comes to annual holiday entitlement for employees, pan-European research has found.

A study of statutory leave and public holidays across all 27 EU states found that holiday entitlement can vary by up to 16 days depending on which country you live and work in.

Employees in the UK can expect 28 days off a year, compared with the 44 enjoyed by Finnish workers, the research by Mercer HR Consulting found. The figures are based on statutory entitlements for an employee working five days a week, with 10 years’ service.

The average leave and public holiday entitlement across all states is 34 days.

Surprisingly, Eastern European countries such as Slovenia, Lithuania and Estonia are particularly generous when it comes to time off for employees.

Mark Sullivan, worldwide partner at Mercer, said: “Holiday entitlements are a lottery. Even though efforts have been made to harmonise employment practices in the EU, there are still large disparities between the member states.”

The statutory minimum number of days’ annual leave ranges from 20 to 30. Those countries offering the minimum 20 days laid down by the EU include Belgium, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK, with the average across the EU being 23 days.

However, statutory holiday entitlement in the UK is set to increase in October, rising to 24 days and then to 28 days in October 2008.

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