SUBSCRIBE: Newsletter

Human Resources



Countries with better work-life balance than Singapore

Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »

Singapore is definitely a place where people get ahead. Unemployment is extremely low, companies are desperate for talent, income tax is hugely competitive with other countries and the cost of living (unless you’re an expat) is fairly sustainable.

But while there are plenty of things Singapore has to offer, the promise of work-life balance is not one of them.

Sure, the government is doing plenty to try and help negate the effects of an overworked population, but there’s no denying a number of other countries take the lead when it comes to nurturing a healthy and happy population.

In order to match these countries’ levels of commitment to work-life balance, Singapore would have to undergo a major culture change. While that might not happen any time soon, perhaps various organisations could start following the lead of these countries.

1. Brazil gives employees six weeks’ leave a year

Yep, Brazilians favour their downtime. In fact, the country has 11 paid public holidays each year which, on top of the minimum required paid vacation days means lucky Brazilians get 41 days off work per annum. That’s six weeks!

Similarly, countries like Lithuania and Finland give workers a total of 41 and 40 days off every year, including public holidays. France is up there too, as are countries like Russia, Austria and Malta.

In Asia, the country with the most paid annual leave days is Japan with 20, and thanks to a whopping 16 paid public holidays, the Japanese get 36 days off a year.

2. In Germany and the Netherlands, people work less than 28 hours a week

According to statistics compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) Germans worked an average of 1,397 hours in 2012 – or roughly 27.8 hours a week.

In the Netherlands this number is even lower at 1,381 hours every year, or 27.6 hours per week.

3. Denmark has “universal nursery care” for all parents

When it comes to helping employees take care of the families, Denmark takes the cake. Not only does the government offer daycare for all people, parents are also given one year of paid leave after birth or adoption. There is also flexibility allowed for how you choose to take the time.

In addition, early childhood education support provided by the government means 79% of mothers in Denmark are able to return to work at the same level of their previous employment.

4. France is encouraging staff to ignore emails after working hours, while Sweden is trialling six-hour work days

France takes work-life balance seriously (they’ve implemented a 35-hour working week since 1999) but now new legislation between French unions and employer’s federations has been put in place to cut down on work being done outside of work hours. These organisations have signed agreements to tell staff to switch off their phones and avoid checking emails once they leave the office.

READ MORE: No after work emails please, it’s the law

Over in Sweden, the city of Gothenburg is trailing six-day work weeks for public servants in the city council in a ‘economic experiment’ for workplace happiness and productivity. These chosen workers will work from just 9am to 3pm, with their productivity being regularly assessed by researchers.

READ MORE: Would you trial a six-hour work day?

5. Norway offers 47 weeks’ parental leave at 100% salary

Or, mothers can choose to take 57 weeks off at 80% salary – not a bad deal!

Of these parental leave quotas, nine weeks are reserved for the mother, 12 weeks are reserved for the father, and the rest they can choose how to split them up between them. With one of the highest GDP’s in the world, Norway is doing something very right.

Image: Shutterstock 

Hong Kong HR Masterclass Series: 19th June 2020 Data Analytics for HR
Become a true strategic partner to the business by leveraging data and analytics to make strategic talent decisions.
Register now here

Read More News


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.