Should Employees Get Time Off Work For Weddings?

Should Employees Get Time Off Work For Weddings?

Many brides and grooms-to-be may joke that planning a wedding can feel like a full-time job – but it seems there’s more truth to the saying than we think, with quite a few countries now offering paid time off for employees about to tie the knot. So should we all be asking for ‘wedding leave’ here in Britain? And is there a chance we’ll ever get it?

While Brits aren’t legally entitled to any extra paid holiday should they get married – having to use their standard 28-day holiday entitlement for weddings and honeymoons too – some private UK companies have begun to offer newlyweds extra days off as part of competitive benefits packages. According to Bridebook app Founder Hamish Shephard, this new trend is “no surprise”, given the ever-increasing pressure on modern couples to have ‘wow-factor’ weddings.

While HR experts believe they could boost employee wellbeing, along with boosting Britain’s falling marriage rates, it’s likely wedding leave will be a perk only reserved for a certain few – akin to unlimited holiday schemes at Netflix and free food at Google. Unless, that is, you move across the globe.

In Spain, employees are entitled to 15 paid days off around the date of their weddings; Japanese couples get a full five days; the French get four; Brazilians get three; and Polish and Maltese get two.

‘Late marriage leave’ was also imposed in China at the time of the one-child policy to encourage people to postpone marriage and childbirth in order to focus on work. Employees who tied the knot ‘late’ – at age 25 for men and 23 for women – were given up to 30 days of extra paid holiday. But, as of 2016, new regulations now mean that all couples get a maximum of three days marriage leave. It was a decision met with a huge amount of anger and disappointment from the younger generation.

When you consider state-owned companies in China only offer five days paid holiday to employees who’ve been working for less than a decade, the reaction is pretty understandable. But like the UK, China does offer paid leave on public holidays (of which there are 11 a year) – the same can’t be said for Japan, which has no such legal provisions and gives employees just ten days paid annual leave (oh, and an extra five if they say ‘I do’). And worst off of all is America – with absolutely no statutory minimum paid vacation or paid public holidays. Overall, Americans have less holiday time than workers in any other advanced economy, with one in four workers receiving no breaks at all.

It’s clear things could be a lot worse, but – as in France and Spain – they could also be better. Some may say the French choose pleasure over productivity by allowing workers up to nine and a half weeks paid leave per year, yet their economy is now bigger than Britain’s – and when it comes to productivity, a typical French person only needs to work four days a week to produce as much as a Brit working Monday to Friday.

A few days off for getting hitched? We should be aiming far higher…

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