What is

Annual Leave


Annual leave is the number of days, most-often paid, an employee can take as vacation per year. Read the complete glossary definition from Borderless.

Most labor codes worldwide dictate a paid annual leave for full-time employees. Some also include regulations on annual leave for part-time employees. 

The actual rules for offering employees their time off vary by country and sometimes even by region or municipality. Commonly, employees receive a set amount of time off for every year worked. 

Let’s take a look at some typical annual leave policies around the world and the benefits of rest time for employees. 

Understanding Annual Leave

Employees can take annual leave every year. The number of days they receive depends on the country’s and employer’s annual leave policy. This crucial employee benefit promotes well-being, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction. 

The employer obligations for providing annual leave vary across countries. These are usually set out in the labor code. In addition, many employers choose to offer extended annual leave policies and even unlimited paid time off (PTO). 

Regardless of the specific policies in each country, taking annual leave has clear benefits. Regular breaks from work promote better mental and physical health, reduce stress levels, improve productivity, and enhance overall well-being. 

Annual leave helps workers pursue hobbies, travel, and recharge. They also get to spend more time with family and friends, travel, and recharge. Ultimately, this fosters a healthier work-life integration, increasing productivity and motivation at work. 

Annual Leave Examples from Around the World

Here are some common ways countries mandate annual leave for employees. 


Full-time employees in Australia are entitled to 20 working days of full-time leave. That’s an entire month of vacation per year. In addition, many companies offer additional time off, such as 'Rostered Days Off' (RDOs). This helps employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.


In Brazil, employees receive at least 30 days of paid leave after working for one year. This is one of the most generous annual leave policies in the world. It reflects the value Brazilian culture places on rest, leisure, and family time.


The minimum annual leave employees in Canada receive is ten days. After five years of experience, workers get at least three weeks of paid leave per year. This is relatively low compared to many other countries. As such, companies often include additional time off in their benefits packages. 


France has a strong focus on work-life balance and offers generous annual leave policies. French workers are entitled to at least 25 days of paid annual leave annually. The country also celebrates many public holidays, and employees can take additional unpaid leave.


Germany is renowned for its employee-friendly labor policies. German workers enjoy a minimum of 20 days of annual leave per year. There may also be additional PTO by region or due to collective bargaining agreements.

United States

The federal government In the United States doesn’t mandate a minimum annual leave requirement. However, some states do have obligatory minimums. Employees rely heavily on employer-specific leave policies, which typically range from 10 to 15 days. 

Unlimited Paid Time Off 

A newer concept in HR, unlimited PTO means workers can take any number of paid days off. This hinges on them delivering 100% of their work. Managers still need to approve employee leave, but there is no need to count the days the employee takes off in a year. 

There are several advantages to this increasingly popular approach. Employees get more flexibility and autonomy, thus having greater control over their daily lives. This also gives them a strong sense of trust and responsibility with regard to their job. Often, this results in higher productivity and motivation. 

On the other hand, unlimited PTO can actually lead to vacation days being underutilized. This, in turn, can cause burnout and drop productivity among your staff. Since there is no way to carry over PTO, it can leave employees without the much-needed rest time. 

As such, companies adopting unlimited vacation policies should consider implementation, clear guidelines, and a culture that celebrates taking them to rest. Ideally, unlimited PTO should come with a clear HR policy and well-established processes. 

Build a Happy Team with Borderless 

Borderless takes the hassle out of paying and managing your global team. We know and understand HR policies across the globe, ensuring you offer your employees what they deserve. We also create localized benefits packages to help you attract, hire, and retain top talent. 

Want to know more? Book a demo today