The 10 countries with the least paid vacation—the U.S. is No. 2

Paid days off are essential to fostering a healthy work-life balance among professionals. But according to a new report from, a career resource platform, American workers aren’t having enough.

The report, which examined data on laws governing statutory paid annual leave and paid holidays in 197 countries, found the United States to be the second-worst country for paid vacation days.

“The lack of paid vacation days in the United States negatively impacts work-life balance in many ways,” said Lotte van Rijswijk, Content Team Lead at, at CNBC Make It. The average American gets 10 vacation days a year after one year of service, all of which are holidays like Presidents Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, access to paid time off can vary due to a number of factors, including industry, full-time versus part-time employment, and union status per compared to non-union status.

“Studies show that 50% of American workers don’t take vacations. This lack of downtime could lead to burnout and stress — and in the most severe cases, depression and mental health issues” , says van Rijswijk. “According to the American Psychological Association, 27% of American adults say they are so stressed they can’t function.”

According to the report, here are the 10 countries with the fewest paid vacation days:

1. Micronesia

Continent: Oceania

Total number of paid vacation days: 9

2. United States of America

Continent: North America

Total number of paid vacation days: 10

3. Nauru

Continent: Oceania

Total number of paid vacation days: 10

4. Palau

Continent: Oceania

Total number of paid vacation days: 12

5. Kiribati

Continent: Oceania

Total number of paid vacation days: 13

6. Mexico

Continent: North America

Total number of paid vacation days: 14

7. China

Continent: Asia

Total number of paid vacation days: 16

8. Lebanon

Continent: Asia

Total number of paid vacation days: 17

9. Philippines

Continent: Asia

Total number of paid vacation days: 17

10. Nigeria

Continent: Africa

Total number of paid vacation days: 17

According to van Rijswijk, the United States is also lagging behind in paid leave. Although most countries have a standard 4 week paid holiday, the United States is the only “developed country without statutory paid holidays”.

And given growing concerns of an economic downturn in 2023, working mums, dads and carers shouldn’t expect any favorable changes to paid leave anytime soon – however, van Rijswijk says that “employers who value employee well-being will not reduce this type of benefit.”

“Our prediction is that some companies might consider reducing paid leave (parental and vacation) to the minimum allowed by law. However, companies with a longer-term view are unlikely to do so,” she explains.

“That’s because when companies cut paid leave, all employers can argue is saving time, and time can be money – but it won’t be worth much if the workforce work is overworked, stressed, unmotivated and unproductive.”

For employees vying for more paid vacation days or paid time off, van Rijswijk recommends advocating for yourself by voicing your needs with leadership.

“People can advocate for themselves and their needs by negotiating the number of paid vacation days with their employer,” she says. “The most accessible time to do this is at the stage of accepting an employer’s job offer – but compassionate employers should be open to having this conversation with staff who feel they need more time off. paid (especially when circumstances change, such as personal health and family size, etc.), no matter how long they have been working there.”

“Another way countries with the lowest paid vacation days can push for change is to lobby groups and government officials. The more noise employees make about their rights, the more the issue will be covered and aired. Over time, this could help policy makers take serious concerns and prompt changes in workplace benefits legislation and policy.”


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