Global work/life balance: top destinations

Global work/ life balance contractors

19th October 2018

For contractors seeking international assignments, part of the appeal is undoubtedly the opportunity to experience new cultures and visit new destinations. However, in order to do this, you need to feel comfortable that you will have the chance to do more than just work during the project.

But how do you know if the country you’re considering making a move to has a culture that encourages people to enjoy a greater work/life balance? Perhaps one starting place is this analysis of working hours, leave and pay across Europe.

So where are the best locations for work/life balance?


Earning top place on this list, Denmark scored highly for happiness, with most professionals also indicating that they are pleased with their remuneration package. Interestingly, the country prides itself on its approach to work/ life balance, with the official website of Denmark stating “Danes enjoy a high degree of flexibility at work, often being able to choose when they start their working day and having the flexibility of working from home”.

It adds: “The Danish welfare model, with its flexible working conditions and social support networks, including maternity leave and childcare facilities, not only puts Denmark at the top of the international equality league table, but also contributes to a generally high standard of living.”

However, compliance in this northern European country isn’t without its challenges. For example, you will need to notify local municipalities within five days of securing a fixed address and register for a Civil Personal Registration (CPR) number. For more information, check out our compliance guide for this destination.


Second on the list, Sweden narrowly missed out on first place due to the longer average working week in comparison to Denmark. However, there are more bank holidays in this destination. This is also one of a few countries to have introduced a policy to improve work/life balance, with many workers enjoying greater flexibility in their roles.

When it comes to compliance, however, there are a few points to be aware of. Sweden has strict deemed employment legislation, making many firms reluctant to employ contractors under a self-employed model. Many expats can also potentially benefit from tax relief, provided they meet specific criteria. Read our guide for more information.


With an average working week of just 30.3 hours in the Netherlands, it perhaps comes as no surprise that this destination not only made this list, but was also ranked top in the OECD Better Life Index, with the Dutch reportedly more than satisfied with their lives.

For contractors seeking a move here, though, there are a number of compliance considerations. If you plan to stay for more than four months, you’ll need to register with the personal records database (BRP) at the civic register of the city hall where you’ll live. If your stay will be under four months, you’ll need to go to one of 19 locations in the country that have registration facilities for non-residents (RNI) instead. Contractors can also obtain a ruling to reduce their taxable salary by up to 30% – find out more in this blog.


This popular European destination scored highly for work/life balance, a fact which will have no doubt been influenced by the country’s recently introduced ‘right to disconnect’ law, which grants staff the right to ignore work-related calls and messages outside of hours. And with the highest total number of hours dedicated to leisure each week (16.4 hours), it is perhaps no surprise that France is on this list.

In terms of contractor compliance in this destination, professionals need to be aware that authorities are very particular about the differences between self-employed, employed and those operating under a PSC. In order to avoid any potential fallout of incorrect assessments, contractors need to seek expert advice on their individual circumstances and contracts in order to ensure they are making the correct declarations in the country. More information can be found in our guide to contracting in France.

While each of the above destinations have been ranked highly in work/life balance, for contractors looking to make a move to these desirable locations, remaining compliant with local legislation should be a priority. Of course, the best way to stay on the right side of the law is to speak to an expert – contact us today.


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