Learning & Development, Recruiting

Work/Life Balance Around the World

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way people work around the globe. For those whose positions don’t strictly require an on-site presence, the widespread shift to remote work has generally meant both an increase in flexibility and the ability to work from locations geographically distant from their home offices, potentially even in other countries.

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Source: Khakimullin Aleksandr / Shutterstock

These developments have led some to ponder whether they could move to some exotic locale while still being employed by their current company or, conversely, find work for a foreign firm without needing to uproot themselves and their families. For employers and recruiters, it’s important to be cognizant of the potential opportunities that may be available to an increasingly global workforce.

In an article for Real Simple, Ashley Zlatopolsky explores how different countries and societies around the world approach work/life balance. There are a few noteworthy examples:

Australia’s Paid Leave

It pays to remain loyal to an employer in Australia, particularly when it comes to paid leave. While in the United States, paid leave is at the employer’s discretion, in Australia, it’s mandated federally, with a generous benefit for longtime workers.

“Employees in Australia look forward each year to four weeks of vacation—which is mandated by federal law,” writes Zlatopolsky. “After 10 years of service with one employer, one earns an additional 8.67 weeks of paid leave—for a whopping total of three calendar months of paid leave.”

France’s Right to Disconnect

France has long had a strong respect for work/life balance, as illustrated by its “right to disconnect,” which creates a legal obligation for companies with more than 50 employees to have policies forbidding employees from sending or replying to e-mails after specified hours or while the employees are on vacation.

Dutch Aversion to Long Hours

Much of what contributes to a poor work/life balance is long hours. That’s rarely a problem in the Netherlands. “Scoring 9.5 out of 10 on the work-life balance scale, data also discovered that just 0.4 percent of employees in the Netherlands work long hours (more than 50 hours per week),” writes Zlatopolsky. “The standard work week for Dutch companies is 38 hours and working overtime is uncommon.”

The combination of increased flexibility and support for remote work adds up to greater choice for workers, including, in some cases, the ability to choose to work from or for an employer in another country. This means it’s important for employers and recruiters to keep an ear to the ground with respect to the kinds of perks workers enjoy around the world.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.