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Which countries in the EU have the best work-life balance?

kokou adzo



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Maintaining a work-life balance is becoming increasingly challenging in today’s connected world. Still, some European countries prioritise employee well-being and offer policies encouraging a healthier work-life balance.

Europe is celebrated for many things. From cultural diversity to great food to historic monuments to beautifully dressed people, it’s a continent with a lot of allure for students and professionals worldwide. But the European Union is also a fierce protector of the famed work-life balance.



Spain is known for its laid-back lifestyle, where long lunch breaks and midday “siestas” are common. The country is also known for its emphasis on leisure activities, with many Spaniards spending their free time enjoying the outdoors or socializing with family and friends.

Spain also has a culture that values work-life balance, and this is reflected in policies such as a shorter workweek and longer vacation time. According to a 2018 report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Spain has one of the highest levels of work-life balance satisfaction in the European Union.


Italy comes in second with a staggering 9.4 on the Better Life Index. The employment rate across the country is relatively high, with 67% of men and 49% of women in full-time, paid employment.

Family time is an essential aspect of Italian culture, so the country has capped the number of hours you can be asked to work at 40. However, at most companies, employees will likely work under 36 hours. Just 4% of employees work long hours.

They’ve also got 12 national holidays and offer employees 4 weeks of paid vacation time, on average.


Norway ranks high for many reasons, one being that the country’s average household net-adjusted income is considerably higher than the OECD average. The norm for working hours is about 40 per week, although on average, Norwegians tend to work about 37.5 hours a week.

With 5 weeks of paid vacation, working in Norway (full-time or part-time) can give you all the flexibility to work there and travel back home to visit your family.

Norway is also generous regarding family leave, offering over 11 months of parental leave for mothers and up to 10 weeks for fathers. Moreover, Norway has a very high level of sick pay, covering 100% of a worker’s pay for up to a year.

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Portugal is another country that values work-life balance and has been recognized as the second-best country in the EU for work-life balance. The country has a lower living cost, allowing for a more relaxed lifestyle. The country has also issued specific visas to attract freelance workers to settle in their country and enjoy the lower cost of living.

Moreover, the country has some perks for entertainment-oriented workers as well. Online sports betting is legal in Portugal, and fans from other countries can access their home platforms, especially the top instant withdrawal casinos for 2023.

In addition, Portugal strongly focuses on family life, and many companies offer benefits such as flexible working hours and parental leave to support this. Portugal is also known for its natural beauty, with stunning beaches and countryside that provide plenty of opportunities for leisure activities.


The Netherlands strongly focuses on work-life balance, reflected in the country’s progressive policies and culture. The country has a flexible work culture that encourages a healthy work-life balance, with many employees working part-time or flexible hours.

The Netherlands also places a high value on vacation time, with workers typically enjoying around 25 days of paid vacation each year. In addition, the country has strong parental leave policies and a culture that values family time and leisure activities. The Netherlands rocked a high score of 9.5/10 for work-life balance.

Their average working week is just 29.3 hours, making it one of the shortest workweeks in the world. According to the OECD, only 0.5% of those employed in the Netherlands leave their place of work later than they’re supposed to.


Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, and this is due in part to the country’s commitment to work-life balance. Denmark has a generous welfare system that provides paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and flexible working hours.

This allows for a healthy work-life balance that benefits both employees and employers. Denmark is also known for its focus on outdoor recreation and physical activity, with many companies offering gym memberships and other wellness benefits to their employees.74% of people aged 15-64 in Denmark are currently in gainful employment.

Denmark has a set 37-hour workweek to take working parents into account. Many employees leave the office around 4 pm to pick up their children from school and spend the afternoon with them.


Germany is known for its strong work ethic, but the country also highly values work-life balance. The country has laws limiting working hours and ensuring fair pay for overtime work.

In addition, Germany encourages flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work and working from home, to support a better work-life balance.

Germany also has a strong culture of leisure activities, with many people enjoying hiking, cycling, and other outdoor pursuits outside of work.


Lithuania ranked 6th on the OECD’s Better Life Index. Over 70% of people aged 15-64 have jobs, with the balance between men and women being relatively equal at 70%.

The workweek lasts five days, with 28 vacation days a year, and a legal framework established to protect employees from working overtime. Working longer than your average hours must be justified following a stringent Lithuanian Labour Code.

Most employees work around 8 hours a day, making it the perfect place to relocate for those seeking more of a family life and have child-care responsibilities on their minds.


The above-mentioned European countries have all implemented policies and cultures prioritising work-life balance, providing their citizens a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle.

Whether it’s Spain’s leisurely siestas, Portugal’s focus on family life, the Netherlands’ flexible work culture, Denmark’s generous welfare system, or Germany’s work-life solid balance policies, there are plenty of examples to follow for achieving a better work-life balance.


Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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