Talking about work holidays in English

This post contains reading and listening links to help you talk about time off work in English. The amount of time that workers can get off work varies from country to country. It includes differing numbers of national holidays (or “public holidays”) and also different laws about the minimum number of days off that employees are legally entitled to. For self-employed people like me (working primarily as an online English teacher in Ireland), there is more flexibility with taking days off. However, the downside is that you don’t get paid for taking time off, and it wouldn’t be beneficial to take as many days off as what school teachers in most countries take because you would lose a lot of pay. We could therefore describe the situation of taking days off as a self-employed worker as a trade-off between pay and flexibility.


Firstly, there is a table that shows the number of days off that workers get in each country around the world. Surprisingly (for me at least!), Kuwait, Cambodia and Azerbaijan are the countries in which workers have the most days off. Ireland is one of the countries with slightly more generous holidays (29 days in total), although this is still a relatively low number compared to its European counterparts. Personally, as an online English teacher in Ireland, I take less days off than the national average (I haven’t actually counted my number of days off!). However, the benefit of working online is that I can bring my laptop with me and work in different places.

The second article contains a suggestion for how workers could get 10 days off at Christmas in 2016 by only taking 3 holidays, thanks to how the public holidays were structured that year. In the final reading link, there is advice for workers about taking time off during a severe storm that happened. Companies are not legally obliged to give their workers a day off due to bad weather. As such, the author details what options workers have in this type of situation.


In the video, the speaker talks about the power of time off. He took a year-long sabbatical from work, and in this time he was able to be more creative and plan ahead. In the long-term, he says this was more financially beneficial for him.

Conversation Questions

  • Do you get many days off work?
  • Is your employer flexible about days off?
  • What do you normally do with your days off?
  • Does your country have a lot of public holidays?
  • Do you think it would be good to take a year-long sabbatical like the speaker in the video?


Annual holidays by country

How to get 10 days off at Christmas

Taking time off during Storm Emma



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online English teacher in Ireland (Padraic)

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