Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Swedish summer shut-down

Summertime, and the living is easy.

Swedish culture and lifestyle is very much structured around having long vacations during the summer (and preferably also in the winter). Foreign companies who work with Swedish companies are often dismayed by the 'Swedsih shutdown' from the end of June to the middle of August when everybody seems to be on holiday. To the outsider, this seems very inefficient.

Swedes love their long vactions. In fact, it is legislated that an employer has to allow an employee four weeks holiday in a row, unless something else is otherwise contracted between the parties. It's hardy surprising with the deep, cold winters, that Swedes want to make the most of the long, light and hopefully warm days. It provides an opportunity to totally relax, to stay at the country house, to go out in the boat, or to travel.

But is it effective or even good for us to be off work for so long? Well, if we are to believe some recent research, the answer is no. This research out of Holland shows that the benefits of being on holiday radically reduce after the first week. What this leads them to conclude is that there is no apparent benefit on our health to being off work for longer than 1-2 weeks at a time.

So let's see if the Swedish government considers these findings. Will we see a change in holiday legislation? My guess is that any party that wants to be re-elected will stay away from this particular hot potato.


  1. It's not completley true what you are writing. It's not legislated that an employer has to allow an employee four weeks, it's three weeks in a row!
    You also talk about research out of Holland and I'm sure you are right and that this research is true but there are however other researces made by other countries that shows that in order to let you body relax and rewind you need 3 weeks vacation in a row. Over the years I have had one or two weeks in a row but this year I took four weeks and I have never been more relaxed, satisfied to be back at work or more ready for it. So you see, there are more to it then just one country's research to go on.
    And you are right about the Swedish Government, it's soon election time! :-)

    Take care!

  2. Well, vacation isn't all about health benefits. Why do we want long vacations? Because we like them. Work to live, not live to work.