BBC Capital

The benefits of being Canadian or Austrian

  • Surprising workplace norms

    Where in the world are employees likely to be happiest? Where are they most likely to be simply lukewarm about their jobs? Where is generous holiday considered the norm, and where do one-fourth of employees receive no paid leave at all?

    The answers might surprise you. Click through the slideshow to learn where in the world employees are making a go of things — and those going nowhere.

  • Canada: Most likely to love their jobs

    When it comes to feeling fulfilled at work, two-thirds of Canadians surveyed by job search site said they loved or liked their jobs a lot, with only seven percent saying they hate their work. Almost a quarter of Canadians said they like their work so much they would consider doing it for free.

    The numbers are perhaps surprising considering Canada scores on the low side of the spectrum when it comes to paid holiday — with only 10 mandatory paid leave days annually, it was ranked third-from-bottom on a list of the world’s 21 richest countries. And that’s not the only information that seems to buck the trend: another recent study showed that of 900 Canadians polled, 83% planned to “actively” look for a new position in the new year.


  • Germany: Least likely to love their jobs

    According to the Monster survey, only 34% of Germans say they love or like their jobs — although an additional 54% made the more tepid claim that they “like it well enough”. Their responses could perhaps partially be explained by common German work habits: punctuality, focus and, consequently, a shorter work day. For example, Germans in many workplaces aren’t allowed to fiddle with their personal phones at work –— but their normal work week clocks in at only 35 hours.


  • Austria: Best leave policy

    According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Germany’s neighbour has some of the most generous government-mandated leave policies in the world. Austrian workers are each allotted 30 calendar days. But for certain age groups, the perks extend past that. At their request, young workers must be granted at least 12 days holiday between June and 15 September. And older workers who have been employed for 25 years receive an additional six calendar days of leave, bringing their time off to 36 days a year.

    The icing on the cake? An additional 13 statutory public holidays, with double-time pay for work done on those days of rest.


  • United States: Worst leave policy

    “The United States lags far behind the rest of the world’s rich countries” when it comes to paid holidays, concludes the study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The US is the only country that fails to guarantee employee pay for national holidays or personal vacation time.

    About a quarter of the US workforce does not receive any paid vacation or paid holiday time off in the course of a year, with low-wage, part-time and small-business employees most likely to feel the brunt of this work burden.


  • Sweden: Best for maternity (and paternity) leave

    Looking to start a family? For expecting Swedish parents, the challenge of who will take care of the new baby in the first few months of life is not an issue. Sweden has some of the most generous parental leave laws in the world with parents of newborn children receiving a total of 480 days of leave per child; they receive 80% of their wages during this time, up to a cap of about $65,000.

    Another unique element of Sweden’s parental leave policy: the country’s focus on the fathers. Dads get two months of mandatory leave. According to a Wall Street Journal article on the topic, giving new fathers the time-off not only sets a more level playing field at home — it also evens the score at work.

    “If only women stayed at home with children, women would be at considerable disadvantage compared with men,” systems developer Johanna Noren explained to the Wall Street Journal at the time.


  • US: Worst for maternity leave

    The nation maligned for its non-existent leave policies also comes in close to last place for helping new families. The US has some of the least generous parental leave policies, “ranking down with a handful of countries that don’t offer any paid leave at all, among them Liberia, Suriname and Papua New Guinea,” says Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times.

    While US law requires larger employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents or to care for an ailing loved one, plenty of people cannot afford to take that time off — especially with the expenses of a new child. About 40% of workers don’t qualify simply because their employers are too small to fall under the law.