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8 countries with the best work-life balance

Author: Beatriz Calafate

Publication date: 28.05.2024

Achieving a good work-life balance involves several key factors. These include the number of paid vacation days, the percentage of sick pay, and the duration of maternity leave. This article highlights why certain countries are considered the best for maintaining this balance.

Key Factors


As mentioned earlier, various factors contribute to a country's ranking in terms of work-life balance. Based on research from March 2023, countries are rated on an index from 0 to 100. Key criteria include paid vacation days, minimum wage, and average weekly work hours. Let's take a closer look at some of the top performers.


New Zealand


New Zealand is celebrated for its stunning landscapes and friendly residents. It ranks highest for work-life balance due to its strong economy and high scores across multiple metrics. Employees benefit from 32 days of statutory annual leave, an 80% sick pay rate, and a government-funded universal healthcare system. Additionally, New Zealand offers one of the highest minimum wages among the countries studied.




Spain, known for its vibrant cities and consistent influx of international tourists, excels at prioritizing life over work. The country provides 36 days of statutory annual leave and has one of the shortest average working weeks, supported by a strong economy.



France, home to iconic landmarks and renowned for its culture, supports a healthy work-life balance. With a population of around 65 million, French workers enjoy an average work week of 25.6 hours, a generous minimum wage, and 36 days of statutory annual leave. The country also offers a right to disconnect from work emails after hours to reduce stress.




Australia is a top choice for tourists and expatriates, famous for its beautiful landscapes, relaxed lifestyle, and sunny climate. It stands out for its work-life balance, offering the highest minimum hourly wage globally and full salary sick pay. The country also boasts a strong public healthcare system.




In Denmark, work-life balance is integral to the culture, with employees enjoying more free time than many of their European counterparts. Often rated as one of the world's happiest nations, Denmark provides 36 days of annual leave, 100% sick pay, and universal healthcare. It is also one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in Europe.



Norway shares a similar life-first approach, with some of the happiest citizens in Europe. Norwegian workers receive 35 days of statutory annual leave and 100% sick pay. The country's employment laws promote short working weeks, offering a highly regarded government-funded healthcare system with high per capita health spending.


The Netherlands


The Netherlands is known for its modern, independent culture and support for LGBTQ+ rights. Despite lacking a government-backed healthcare system and offering average annual leave, Dutch parents benefit from generous maternity pay. The Netherlands ranks high in economic freedom, human development, and quality of life, with an average work week of just under 27 hours.


The United Kingdom


The United Kingdom, with a high-income economy and a very high human development index, is the world's sixth-largest economy by Gross Domestic Product. It fosters a healthy work-life balance, featuring a renowned healthcare system, a generous minimum wage, and one of the highest statutory maternity leave rates globally. UK workers average 25.6 hours per week, combining full- and part-time hours, which is the shortest among the listed countries.



In conclusion, achieving a good work-life balance is influenced by several critical factors, such as statutory annual leave, sick pay rates, and maternity leave provisions. The countries highlighted in this article excel in these areas, offering their citizens a harmonious blend of work and personal life. New Zealand leads with its robust economy and comprehensive benefits, while Spain and France also shine with their generous leave policies and cultural richness.

Australia, Denmark, and Norway showcase strong support systems and a focus on employee well-being. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom demonstrate that prioritising life over work is possible and beneficial even within high-income economies. These nations set exemplary standards for balancing professional commitments with personal well-being, making them ideal models for work-life balance worldwide.


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