As Covid-19 is normalising remote employment, companies are obliged to provide the right benefits in accordance with local employment laws for each remote employee. One of the most common perks of being a full-time employee is paid leave. While some forms of leave are common - like statutory or annual, pregnancy and maternity, and sick leave - others vary significantly from country to country. Many are related to family planning and are also very culturally inflected.
Here we breakdown the different types of leave around the world that you’ll need to be aware of - and some unique ones you might encounter - when employing remotely.
Statutory or Annual Leave
Statutory or annual leave is more commonly known as paid vacation or paid time-off. Employees are entitled to a certain number of days or weeks of paid time-off every year. These are in addition to public holidays. The exact amount of time off is legally defined, but companies are also able to offer additional days off as added perks.
Countries calculate eligibility to and the exact amount of paid time-off differently. The table below details some popular remote employment countries and their annual leave rules.
Pregnancy and Maternity Leave
Another common form of paid leave around the world, pregnancy and maternity leave is necessary to support pregnant or new parents in maintaining their employment while also building their families.
As the table below details, the duration of pregnancy and maternity leave, and whether this is paid or not, varies a lot from country to country.
Paternity and Parental Leave
Some countries offer paternity leave specifically to encourage male employees to take part in child rearing. Others make provisions for this through the more general parental leave. This can also include extended maternity leave, child care leave, and adoption leave. A recent UNICEF report found that in practice, parental leave supports male employees best in Japan, South Korean, and Portugal.
When employing remotely, you will need to be aware of what exactly is offered under paternity and parental leave, how it is paid, and where it is available.
National legislation pertaining to sick leave varies significantly from country to country. Many countries do not have provisions for sick leave at all, while others make a clear distinction between work-related and non-work related illnesses. Where no legal provisions are given, it is good to be aware of local business practices regarding sick leave. This shows consideration for local norms and care for remote employees.
While bereavement is a common reason for granting paid leave, it is far less present in national legislation than annual, parental, or sick leave. Countries and companies that do offer paid bereavement leave include France, China, South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, and Australia. Whether bereavement leave is granted and paid depends on the employment relationship and often also the relation between the employee and the deceased.
In other contexts, bereavement leave can be taken in the form of other kinds of leave. In India, for example, casual leave provisions entitle employees to take unpaid leave due to bereavement. Many companies will also offer (paid or unpaid) bereavement leave wherever no legal provisions are provided.
Customs around bereavement leave may also be determined by local cultural norms. As an employer, it is important to be informed about these practices wherever your remote employees are based so you can provide the appropriate benefits. This signals commitment to their well-being and encourages a sense of belonging to the company and employee engagement.
Marriage is a common reason for requiring leave across the world. In China, employees getting married are entitled to 3 days of full pay for their marriage. In Austria, employees are entitled to 3 days of full pay for their own weddings, or 1 day for the marriage of a child or close relative (sibling). In Denmark, employees are entitled to 1 paid day off for their own marriage.
While perhaps not as urgent as sick or maternity leave, marriage can be seen as an important moment in people’s life cycles. Honouring and respecting such traditions demonstrates care for your remote employees and the places where they are working from.
Traditional Aboriginal Practices or Indigenous Leave
To provide for communities that have been historically marginalised, many countries are providing leave for individuals to dedicate to their cultural and community life.
In Canada, ‘Traditional Aboriginal Practices’ leave grants Aboriginal employees 5 days of paid leave per year in order to engage in Aboriginal practices. This is similar to Australia, where ‘Indigenous Australian’ leave is also granted to employees of indigenous origin.
Though these forms of leave are rather specific, awareness of benefits that are based on cultural and historical issues are vital for a sound employer-employee relationship. It also signals adaptability to local norms and business practices.