June 7, 2022
A new study from recruitment firm Remote claims to analyse how European countries are looking after the work-life balance of their employees. The report sets out to take an ‘holistic’ view on work-life balance taking into account of factors such as minimum wage, maternity leave, statutory annual leave, sick pay, the country’s healthcare system and the country’s overall happiness level to help workers determine the best locations for life-work balance. The UK comes in a lowly 28th place, in case you didn’t want to click on the report link. Interestingly, Remote have decided to invert the usual term work-life balance to life-work balance, so expect to see both terms used in the following list.
Here are the top 10 countries in Europe that can offer you an ideal work-life balance, according to the report:
Luxembourg ranks #1 on Remote’s life-work balance index: it performs well across all key metrics, particularly regarding statutory maternity leave (100 percent of your wage for 20 weeks) and statutory annual leave (37 days). With a happiness score of 7.32, Luxembourg is also one of the most content nations in Europe.
Spain has a strong business culture geared towards putting home life before work when it counts. The nation has a universal government-funded healthcare system, as well as a significant minimum wage (the equivalent of $10.71/hr). This is particularly impressive given that Spain has a far larger population compared to other countries in the top 10.
Norway values a strong life-work balance and this culture is enshrined within its employment laws, and long working weeks are rare across all industries. The country does not have a standard minimum wage like many other European nations. Instead, Norway has a collective agreement among nine key industries that cover 70 percent of workers.
With a happiness score of 7.39, Norway has one of the most content populations inside our top ten. They also have a renowned universal government-funded healthcare system, with health expenditure per head being higher than most countries.
Germany has the largest population in the top ten countries (83.8 million), which serves to showcase the impressiveness of its commitment to nurturing a strong life-work balance.
This nation provides workers with 30 days of statutory annual leave and 14 weeks of statutory maternity leave (at 100 percent of their wage). If you’re sick, companies are required to pay 70 percent of your wage during your absence.
Like Germany, France is one of the larger European nations to make our top ten. A generous statutory annual leave allowance of 36 days, as well as a high minimum wage ($12.23), are key factors in this nation’s ranking.
In 2017, the French government passed a law known as the right to disconnect, which requires companies with more than 50 workers to create a “charter of good conduct”: a document stopping workers from answering emails outside of hours.
Poland arguably provides the most generous statutory maternity leave in our top ten. The nation allocates parents 20 weeks of leave at 100 percent of their wage. As for annual leave? Workers receive a significant 33 days, though this is at 70 percent of their base wage.
Slovenia (main image) is making great strides in developing a strong culture around life-work balance. Though the country prescribes to a relatively long 40-hour workweek compared to other European nations, Slovenia offers good statutory leave in return: 33 days of annual leave at 80 percent of your base salary, and 15 weeks of maternity leave on full pay. Plus, the majority of full-time workers and employees enjoy the ability to start and end their day according to personal requirements.
When it comes to statutory annual leave, Iceland is unmatched in the top ten: they offer a generous 38 days of paid leave at 100 percent of your base wage. And with a happiness index score of 7.55, Iceland is also one of the happiest nations in the world, likely helped by the fact that much of Iceland shut down through July when you can experience the best weather with your friends and family.
Italy protects workers looking to start a family by offering strong statutory maternity leave (21.7 weeks at 80 percent of your base salary). On top of that, Italy has a universal government-funded healthcare system known as Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). You also receive 32 days of statutory annual leave, though only half of your salary is protected during your absence.
Denmark is the happiest nation in the top ten, with a happiness index score of 7.62 (second overall behind Finland). Workers also receive 36 days of statutory annual leave on full pay, as well as 18 weeks of paid maternity leave (53 percent of base salary).
Work-life balance is a cornerstone of Danish culture. The Scandinavian nation has a high taxation rate that serves to fuel a strong welfare society, benefitting its citizens through free education and healthcare, as well as a smooth public transport system and sprawling recreational facilities.