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Public holidays & compensation if they fall on the weekend, an international comparison

Many official holidays fall in the months of April, May and June. This includes Ascension Day and Whitsun. These public holidays are official public holidays in, among others, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France. However, this is not the case the United Kingdom and Italy, where these days are normal working days.
The same goes for Boxing Day: it is a public holiday in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy, but not in France and Belgium. And what happens if such a holiday falls on a weekend? In this article you can read more about a number of striking differences that exist between the abovementioned countries when it comes to public holidays.

National holidays and bank holidays

Of course, this is not the only difference between the neighbouring countries when it comes to public holidays. In addition to a number of religious holidays, every country has one or several national holidays, such as King’s Day in the Netherlands (April 27), the Day of German Unity in Germany (October 3), the National Holiday Bastille Day in France (July 14), and the Day of the Republic in Italy (June 2). The United Kingdom also has “bank holidays”, official holidays on which banks and many other businesses are closed all day. The bank holidays fall on the first and last Monday of the month of May and the last Monday of the month of August.

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom have the smallest number of public holidays in Europe!

All in all, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom only have 8 official public holidays. Germany has 9, Belgium 10, and France and Italy come at the top of the list with 11 official public holidays. The differences are even bigger, as employees in some countries are entitled to compensation when a variable public holiday falls on the weekend, and employees in other countries are not. 

In which countries are employees entitled to compensation?

This entitlement exists in, among others, Belgium, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
In Belgium, a day off in lieu is always granted (recuperation). The employee can choose when he wants to take this day off in lieu, or the employer may opt to set a specific day as a collective day off for its employees.

In Italy, employees are not granted a day off in lieu, but receive a compensation in salary instead.

In the United Kingdom, a day off in lieu is always granted (substitute day). This day cannot be freely taken by the employee, but is moved to the next working day(s). This does not apply for Easter Sunday, as this always falls on a Sunday, but it did apply for New Year’s Day, which gave employees in the UK an extra day off on Monday 2 January 2023.

In which countries are employees not entitled to compensation?

This is the case in, among others, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Seen in this light, the employees in the Netherlands get the worst deal, with only 8 official public holidays and no compensation when these fall on the weekend.

All public holidays listed

You can find all official public holidays in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and now Italy as well, on our website. There you can also read whether or not employees in those countries are entitled to compensation. Select the country of your choice from the practical information per country and go to the tab “National holidays”.

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Since 1972, Interfisc has offered international HR & Payroll solutions in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. We do this from our offices in the Netherlands and Belgium, and with an international team of around 45 committed and caring employees. 

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