Employment conditions around the world

Design 24

If you’re anything like me and frequent AskReddit you’ll see a fair bit of discussion about the lifestyle, healthcare and employment differences between countries, and employment conditions tends to create a bit of discussion. So I thought it would be an interesting topic for a post to look at what entitlements employees receive around the world, and I think some of the results will surprise you. All results are a full time equivalent Monday – Friday employee unless otherwise stated.


Lets start at home, Australians entitled to paid leave receive 20 days of Annual Leave, 10 days of Sick Leave and 10 Public Holidays per year. The average weekly hours worked by Australians are 33 hours per week & the average weekly earnings were $1628. Pregnant employees with over 12 months service at the time of commencement of Parental Leave are entitled to 12 months unpaid leave with a possible extension of an addition 12 months, after which time the employee is to return to their pre-leave position. The Government provides Paid Parental Leave, the scheme provides eligible working parents with 18 weeks Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage, and can be shared between both parents. Some employers elect to provide their own Paid Parental Leave in addition to the Government scheme.

New Zealand

Across the ditch our neighbours are entitled to paid leave of 20 days of Annual Leave, 5 days sick leave a year after the first 6 months of continuous employment and an additional 5 days after each subsequent 12 month period and 11 Public Holidays. New Zealanders are entitled to 12 months unpaid Parental Leave with a Government funded scheme of 22 weeks.


Ahhh the land of the free, but not so much when it comes to employee rights it appears. There is no statutory minimum paid vacation or paid public holidays. It is left to the employers to offer paid vacation which only 77% do. Most employers do pay for 10 out of  21 Public Holidays and Americans can only be guaranteed unpaid sick leave for serious illnesses, hence employees tend to work even though unwell so they can be paid, and, to avoid losing their job. Employees are only guaranteed 12 weeks unpaid Parental Leave with no funded Government scheme with one quarter of mothers returning to work less than 2 weeks after giving birth (insert horror face here!). The average weekly wage is $876.


Swedes are entitled to 25 paid Annual Leave days per year, 9 public holidays and a very generous sick leave scheme. The first sick day is usually not paid. After that day 80% of the income is paid for 364 days and 75% for a further maximum 550 days. A medical doctor must certify the illness no later than one week after the first sick day. A parent of a less than 12-year-old sick child can get paid leave to care for the child (termed “temporary parental leave”). In that case the first day is also paid. The state pays all these benefits, except for the first two weeks of sick leave for employees, which is paid by the employer. Employees are entitled to 56 weeks of Parental Leave and a Government scheme of 12 weeks at 80% of the employees salary up to a ceiling limit.


Russians are entitled to 20 paid days of Annual Leave, employees are entitled to Sick Leave upon presentation of a Medical Certificate with the employer paying the first 3 days and the State paying the remainder. Russians are paid for 14 Public Holidays per year and are entitled to a massive 156 weeks of unpaid Parental Leave per child, with the State paying the mother 100% of her wage for a 20 week period up to a ceiling limit.


Employees in Afghanistan are entitled to 20 paid Annual Leave days, 20 days of Sick Leave and 15 Public Holidays. Mothers are entitled to 90 days paid Maternity Leave at 100% of her wage.

So any surprises their for you? While I was aware that the US didn’t have great employee benefits I was surprised to learn that in fact Americas labour relations laws are so poor that they were recently ranked a 4 by the International Trade Union Confederation, the full definition of a “4” reads:

“Workers in countries with the rating of 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under continuous threat.”

Other countries that received a comparable rating to the US were Iran, Iraq, Haiti and Honduras.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more