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Swedes have the longest holidays in Europe: study

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 31 Jul 2009, 12:19

Published: 31 Jul 2009 12:19 GMT+02:00

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Swedes are also among those that spend the least amount of time at work each week, almost an hour below the EU average.

The report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) is published annually and shows an overall trend that EU citizens spend less a decreasing amount of time at work but are more stressed while there.

"We have been publishing the report for ten years now and have noticed some reduction in working hours. The trend is slight but it points that way," Camilla Galli da Bino of Eurofound told The Local on Friday.

Swedes enjoy an average 33 days of "collectively agreed" annual leave, the report shows, while the average across the EU is 25.2. Runners-up in the holiday stakes are neighbouring Denmark with 30 days and Germany with 30, while the Cypriots and the Estonians have to make do with 20.

"The Swedes always come out on top here. Generally you can say the enlargement countries work longer and have shorter holidays, but Sweden has long been in a class of its own," Galli da Bino said.

It is also more common for Swedes to take longer periods of holiday. While a common summer holiday in the UK is two weeks, Swedes are typically entitled to take four consecutive weeks.

Despite the long holidays, Sweden is also among the countries with the shortest "collectively agreed" working week - with 37.5 hours only the UK, Denmark and France have shorter.

Over the past decade Eurofound has found that in the EU15, agreed working hours have declined by 1.8 percent from 38.6 hours to 37.9 hours.

The 12 new member states have boosted these figures however, as only two have agreed working weeks below the EU27 average.

The report also contains figures showing the number of actual weekly working hours and shows that Swedes put in a average of 39.6 hours at work, 0.8 hours below the EU average, and a full 2.2 hours below the Romanians on 41.8 hours.

Story continues below…

Sweden has one of the lowest statutory maximum working weeks in the EU with 40 hours, only Belgium is lower on 38. The EU Working Time Directive stipulates a maximum of 48.

The Local made attempts on Friday to contact a Swedish representative at Eurofound for further comment on the report, but was told he was on annual leave until mid-August.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:50 July 31, 2009 by Aussie_Downunder
Next stop Sweden!!
15:05 July 31, 2009 by Harding00
I can't wait until I know more Swedish and get a job here in Sweden, because I can get lots and lots of vacation time!! But the bad thing with all this vacation time, is that everyone takes it in the summer, which means everything, at least in the little town of Piteå, where I live, things close very early, the same time when people want to be out doing things. Restaurants seem to close earlier in the summer and some businesses are just plain closed for a month.
15:20 July 31, 2009 by slickscott
Is there actually anything to do in Sw?
17:16 July 31, 2009 by Harding00
well, um...there's...umm...I guess this is why so many Swedes go to Thailand...more to do..
17:37 July 31, 2009 by I Love it when ...
these people have waaaaaay to much free time
18:18 July 31, 2009 by Suprise
Where I live and in Vaxjo (Largest city near me) they hire allot of teenagers for summer work.. So nothing really changes that I have noticed except government buildings.. Stores and restaurants and such stay open pretty much the same hours.. And it gives the youngsters something to do and some pocket money :)
20:48 July 31, 2009 by bas
This is a known fact - The Swedes are the least productive of all Europeans...

Just look at the offices - lights go off at 3 pm.
21:12 July 31, 2009 by conboy
I disagree bas the 60,000 dollar question is whether the Swedes are switched on when they get to work.
21:21 July 31, 2009 by spacecowboy
Since when has long hours at work equalled high productivity? Output per hour is a measure of productivity... There are some people in this world that think because they spend long hours at work they are doing a good job... Quite the contrary i believe... Going home early is the best motivation for achieving your daily goals...

I just spent 18 months working for a poorly managed Spanish sailing team. I can safely tell you Swedes are not the least productive people in Europe! Spend a few years in Spain or Italy and you'll see what i mean!
22:27 July 31, 2009 by Phyllis Clemens
It sounds like a pretty good deal to me! Much better than most in the US could hope for!! I agree that long hours do not necessarily equal productivity. And really (#5).....there's no such thing as too much free time!!!
22:44 July 31, 2009 by French viking

we have more in France !!
23:33 July 31, 2009 by mibrooks27
I, and my family, lived in Sweden in the 1990's and those long vacations actually made for a more efficient workforce. Productivity for Swedish workers was *higher* than for their American counterparts. As with most policies of this sort, Sweden is light years ahead of the rest of the world.
04:23 August 1, 2009 by Norum
Look at Canada - only 2 weeks of paid vacation a year.

As for productivity...just a bit higher than the US.
05:26 August 1, 2009 by Omidn
Well, 33 days of vacation IF someone has a job :) in Sweden :D
05:52 August 1, 2009 by davidmc
I wish it was like that in the US. US trade magizines vocusing on efficiencies suggest that the US workers will enjoy shorter work weeks in the future due to the values of the young people entering the job market.
09:01 August 1, 2009 by Davidiand
if you pay the highest tax in the world why not benefit from it. A happy worker is more efficient, its my experience in 13 years of working and living here that Swedish workers are generally honest workers. The company I work for has a work ethic called The Balance of Life, equals time at work + time with family + leisure time. Whats more I am treated like an adult here.
09:35 August 1, 2009 by 4xxxx
The Swedish holidays start on the 1st January and finish on the 31st December!!! But that is only for the Swedes, the rest of us don't know what a holiday is because we spend all our time looking for a job!!!
10:55 August 1, 2009 by Petalpusher
i knew it! everyone's on vacation but me right now. though at least it is better than in the US. ( http://lostinstockholm.com/2009/07/24/all-work-during-the-swedish-summer-makes-me-a-dull-girl/ )

lol @Omidn, so true

@davidiand - I agree, there's a lot more respect in the companies here, at least i feel. That you get your stuff, work hard, and honestly, and it goes well. And no one bits my head off for wanting vacation (like in the US), it's a right here.
16:21 August 1, 2009 by Greg in Canada
"Look at Canada - only 2 weeks of paid vacation a year"

Well my wife gets something like 10 or 12 weeks of paid vacation in Canada, but she's a school teacher. That two weeks of paid vacation only applies to new workers in the private sector. It increases by one week for every five years. Government workers seem to get more days off than those in the private sector, but two weeks to start is weenie.

What about self employed people in Sweden? How do they take holidays?
19:36 August 1, 2009 by bocale1
I would not confuse time spent working with productivity and efficiency, IMO and based on my experience, Swedes are generally not hard working people and, apart the vacation, even during working time there are a lot of breaks and, generally, a very relaxed atmosphere. Said that, I have the feeling that the overall productivity is quite ok due to a good organization, good planning, high level of pragmatism, efficient and lean organizations, good working ethics that let the people trust each other more than elsewhere. Just a simple example. In my experiences in other countries (UK, Italy, DE), as project manager, I was asked to produce lot of reporting on weekly basis to my management (that actually never read that). Time: 3 hrs per week = 12 hrs month. Swedish model: unless criticality, once a mount, 2 hrs. Time saved: 10 hrs a month that, in a year, is 12 days that can be easily spent in something else.
21:15 August 1, 2009 by skane refugee
my first proper job in London had 25 days standard holiday plus up to another 5 in lieu of overtime (which you could choose to have paid instead) plus an extra floating day at christmas to be taken between xmas and new year

i.e. 31 days

since public holidays always fall on workdays in the UK, whereas Sweden effectively cheats you out of weekend 'public holidays' ... and Swedish employers often make you take weeks of your holidasy in July whether you like it or not ... I'd have rather had the UK holiday package than the standard Swedish one
03:48 August 2, 2009 by GlowofElectrum
I am in the wrong country..
01:45 August 29, 2009 by Coalbanks
Of course they have the longest holidays: Days are so much longer in the Far North! DUUH!
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