Out of 22 countries worldwide British workers are the most likely to take all of their paid holiday leave – and they get a lot more of it than average
Statistics abound on the relative work ethics of different countries. During the Eurozone and Greek debt crises, critics slipped into the habit of blaming the economic situation on laid back, siesta-taking southern Europeans. In fact Greece ranks fourth among OECD countries for average annual hours actually worked, and Spain ranks one place above the UK. Meanwhile German workers, the with a reputation for working very hard, actually work the smallest number of hours. Meanwhile the phenomenon of presenteeism in the British workplace – working longer hours, fearful of bosses – is supposedly leading to higher stroke risk, heart disease, back problems and mental health issues.
New YouGov research from around the world reveals that when it comes to holidays, however, British people are not shy about taking them.
Out of 22 countries worldwide, spanning North America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Europe, British people are the most likely to say they will take all of their holiday leave this year. Fully 75% say they will take all of it (64%) or all of it minus one or two days (11%) – despite the median number of days of holiday leave given to British workers (27) being well above the average for the countries surveyed (21).
Americans take dramatically less holiday – in one of the only places in the world where there is no statutory minimum holiday leave only 44% say they will take all or almost all of their days off this year. Our data shows on average Americans receive only one more day off (12) than Chinese workers (11).
There tends to be little correlation between the number of days off workers receive and the amount they end up taking. In Saudi Arabia and Algeria average workers get 30 days leave, yet only 51% and 48% respectively say they will take all or nearly all of it. However in Saudi Arabia, fully 21% of workers who say they won't take all of their holiday this year cite pressure from their boss as a reason.
The most popular reason worldwide for not taking the full holiday allowance is wanting to carry some over to next year (34% choose this on average), followed by 'I mean to but I never get round to it' (14%) and 'I don't have enough reason to take holiday'. A commonly referenced reason for working harder – not wanting to appear lazy to colleagues and employers – is rarely chosen (6% on average), however in China the figure reaches 13%.