German workers lead Europe with eight weeks of leave, holidays - study

Men work at the assembly line in the truck production plant of truck and bus-maker MAN AG in Munich, Germany July 30, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

BERLIN (Reuters) - German workers top the European Union in time off with an average of 30 days of paid leave plus 10 days of public holidays per year, the IW institute said on Monday.

In a study for the Bavarian employers association, the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) found that 16.2 percent of total remuneration costs in Germany are devoted to annual leave and paid holidays -- the highest level in the EU.

“Germany leads the EU with paid leave and holiday in the EU,” said Christoph Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Cologne-based IW, which is close to German employers.

He said Germany is also most likely the world’s leading holiday nation, although French workers enjoy similar numbers as German workers.

“Despite those numbers, Germany’s competitiveness is still quite high,” said Schroeder, noting that the average of paid leave rose steadily in Germany to about 1990.

“But those 40 days of paid leave will become an issue as a shortage of skilled labour worsens.”

Germany has Europe’s largest economy and, despite the 2008 financial crisis and euro zone crisis, has managed to post steady growth rates since 2010.

Behind Germany and France in the holiday rankings are Denmark with 39 days, Italy with 37, and the Czech Republic, Austria and Sweden with 36.

Britain straddles the EU average with 32.8 days, translating to 12.6 percent of wage payments for annual leave and holidays. Belgium is last with 29 days and 7.9 percent of wage costs.

Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Mark Heinrich