Which countries in Latin America have the most vacation days?

August 18, 2022

In Latin America, the minimum number of mandatory vacation days for workers is a contradictory scenario, where opposite poles coexist at the top of both the lists of countries with the most vacation days per year and the lists of countries with the fewest vacation days per year.

Work is one of the most important parts of any person’s life; it is much more than just exchanging time for money. Work dignifies and, in a way, gives meaning to the day to day, however, despite all the positive things it has for life, having a period of rest is more than necessary, as it helps eliminate stress, improve mood and can even help improve the physical condition of the worker.

 

Finland, Austria and Sweden were the first countries to recognize the right to take paid time off, as recently as the 1920s. Today, the International Labor Organization in Convention C132 suggests that workers should enjoy at least 18 days of paid vacation for each year of work. However, as this agreement is only a recommendation, there are several countries in Latin America that offer their workers much more than that.

 

Countries with the most vacation days

Taking a few days to forget about work, spend a few days with the family or get to know some place is undoubtedly one of the rights that workers value the most, however the laws in Latin America do not have a consensus on the vacation days per year that workers can enjoy, so there are countries in which only oblige companies to give 6 days, while others establish a minimum of 30 days.

Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua and Panama top the list of countries with more vacation days for their workers, since by law, after the first year of employment, employees are entitled to 30 days of vacation.

Peru is in a very similar situation to the countries with the most paid vacation days, since a good part of the companies are obliged to give 30 days to their employees, however SMEs are only obliged to grant 15 days a year.

The next country on the list is Uruguay, which establishes vacation of at least 20 days.  In addition, after the fifth year in the same company, the employee is entitled to an extra day for every four years of seniority.

In general, the average minimum vacation per year of work in Latin America is 15 days. These are the vacation days stipulated by the laws of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Argentina, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are no further from the average, as they oblige companies to give at least 14 paid vacation days to workers who have been with the company for at least one year.

 

Countries with the fewest vacation days

Far below the recommendation of the International Labor Organization are Paraguay and Honduras, which give their workers 12 and 10 days off, respectively, after the first year of work in a company.

A separate case is Mexico, which even tops the lists of countries with the least vacation time worldwide. The Federal Labor Law establishes that a worker after one year in the same company is entitled to 6 paid vacation days, in the second year he/she will have 8 paid vacation days, in the third year 10 days and in the fourth year 12 days. From the 5th year of work in the same company, the law establishes that the employee will be entitled to two more days of vacation every 5 years.

However, in spite of this panorama, these are the minimum vacations established by law, in the end the employers and unions are the ones who negotiate the vacation days. Curiously, this Mexico also tops the list of countries in the world with the longest working hours.

 

It should be clarified that the data we present today are only for formal workers, the panorama for informal workers can be very different, since it will be the employer who decides when and how much vacation to give to each worker.