Sharp contrast in days' leave across EU

Marked differences exist between EU Member States in the total number of days'
leave they offer workers, with some countries having almost three-and-a-half
working weeks' more time off than others. Research findings published today
from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working
Conditions (Eurofound) show that workers in Sweden have 42 days of annual leave
and public holidays combined, in contrast to workers in Estonia, who have just
26 days. In addition, the length of the working week and annual hours worked
vary greatly from one country to another.

On average, workers in the 12 new EU Member States work two and a half working
weeks more each year than do workers in the former EU15, according to Working
time developments ­ 2006, the annual update from Eurofound's European
Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO). On average, workers in the EU15 have
35.6 days of annual leave and public holidays combined, while workers in the 12
new Member States have 31.3 days. (For the EU27 as a whole, the average is 33.7
days.) After Sweden, the countries with the greatest number of days' leave are
Germany (40 days), Italy (39 days), Luxembourg and Denmark (38 days each). The
countries with the least amount of leave, after Estonia, are Latvia (27 days),
Hungary (28 days) and Ireland which, with just 29 days' of combined leave and
holidays, is the lowest ranking country in the EU15.

In 2006, the average length of the working week, for full-time employees
working in their main job, varied from 42.1 hours in Latvia to 37.6 hours in
France. While the average collectively agreed working week in the EU27 was 38.7
hours, in practice, the actual average working week was 1.2 hours longer, at
39.9 hours.

The report also looks at the number of hours worked annually. Overall, the
longest annual working hours in the EU are in Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Poland
and Romania, while the shortest are in France, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
Average annual hours in Estonia (1,872) are 304 hours longer than in France
(1,568) ­ the equivalent of around 7.6 working weeks in Estonia.

The annual update also focuses on the issue of 'on-call' work or duty
arrangements, whereby workers must be available to be called into work if
required by their employer. On-call arrangements are most prevalent in the
healthcare, transport, and hotels and catering sectors, and most common in
Norway and the Netherlands. This form of work is an ongoing source of legal
disputes, particularly in the healthcare sector, concerning such issues as
payment for on-call time and whether on-call duties count as working time.

Further info

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions