The highest leave entitlement in Europe

Malta remains on top of the EU list, with 40 days of full-paid time off. This is seven days more than the EU average.

A study published by Eurofound – the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions – indicates that in 2022 Malta had the highest level of paid annual leave entitlement amongst all European countries. In fact, in their report, the experts of this EU agency noted that “the combined total duration of agreed annual leave and public holidays varies greatly across the EU. In 2022, it ranged from 28 days in Estonia, Hungary, Belgium, and the Netherlands to 38 days in Denmark and 40 days in Malta.”

In 19 out of 28 countries, paid annual leave entitlement is set at 20, the minimum entitlement set out in the EU’s Working Time Directive. This includes Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands. In Portugal and Spain this entitlement is set at 22 days, while in Austria, Denmark, France, and Sweden workers are entitled to 25 days of paid leave. In Luxembourg the basic minimum duration of paid annual leave was 26 days. In Malta the basic duration is 24 days, but differently to other countries this entitlement is increased to compensate for public holidays falling on weekends, pushing the entitlement to 28 days.

When one adds up annual leave entitlements to the number of public holidays, Malta remains on top of the EU list, with 40 days of full-paid time off. This is seven days more than the EU average. Compared to a worker in the Netherlands or Belgium, a worker in Malta enjoyed 12 more days of paid time off work.

This year Malta is expected to retain this top post as, due to the changes in legislation introduced after 2013, workers will benefit from extra leave in lieu of the six public holidays that will fall on a weekend. Had these changed not happened, this year Maltese workers would have ended up with an entitlement of paid time off work just above the EU average, instead of having the highest amount of leave entitlement.

 Annual leave + public holidays  
Finland, Austria, Bulgaria36
France, Czechia, Luxembourg35
Sweden, Italy34
Cyprus, EU33
Spain, Slovakia, Portugal32
Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece30
Ireland, Poland29
Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Estonia28
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