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'Marked differences' in holiday leave across EU

The number of days' leave offered to workers varies widely between member states – with citizens in some countries enjoying up to three and a half weeks' more time off than others, according to a new study.

There are also marked differences in the length of the working week, as well as the number of hours worked, according to new research from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) published on 19 July 2007. The survey reveals that workers in Sweden enjoy the highest number of days off per year with 42 - a combination of annual leave and national holidays – whereas Estonians receive the lowest, at just 26.
Citizens in the EU-12 work an average of two and a half weeks' more each year than their EU-15 counterparts.

Additionally, EU-15 employees enjoy an average of 35.6 days of annual leave and public holidays combined, whereas workers in the EU-12 receive 31.3 (giving an EU-27 average of 33.7).After Sweden, workers also enjoy generous leave allowances in Germany (40 days), Italy (39), Denmark and Luxembourg (both 38). Joining Estonia at the opposite end of the spectrum are Latvia (27 days), Hungary (28) and Ireland, where workers receive just 29 days of combined leave and holiday – the lowest in the EU-15. Meanwhile, the average length of the working week for full-time employees also varies, with Latvians working the longest with 42.1 hours, and the French the least with 37.6. The EU average is 39.9.

On an annual basis, the longest hours worked are in Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, while the shortest are in France, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Estonians work an average of 1,872 hours per year – the equivalent of 7.6 working weeks longer than the French, with 1,568. Finally, employees in the Netherlands and Norway, and working in the healthcare, transport, hotel or catering industries, are most likely required to be “on call”. (