The best places in the world to work - and why the UK is only 9th

Why the UK is a worse place to work than Germany, Denmark, The US and Mexico

Copenhangen, Denmark aerial view of the skyline.

If you want to be happy at work, have a nice short week, plenty of holidays, and good pay, then it's time to move to Denmark. It has taken the top spot in a study by ACA of the best places to work around the world.

If Denmark doesn't appeal, then there's plenty of choice - because eight countries have ranked higher than the UK.

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1. Denmark
Denmark takes the top spot, with a happiness rating of 7.5 out of ten. It scored particularly well for its short week, with an average of 7.4 hours a day or 37 hours a week. This isn't reflected in low pay either, because the average wage is $40,000. They don't do badly for paid holiday, with 12 public holidays and 25 days of paid holiday. Sick pay, meanwhile, offers 100% of pay for the first 30 days.

2. Switzerland
In second place is Switzerland - which also scored 7.5 out of 10. It performed particularly well in terms of pay, at $58,000, and holidays - with seven public holidays and 27 days of paid holiday. However, it has a longer working week, of 8.4 hours a day and 37 hours a week. Sick pay also lasts just 20 days.

3. Canada
Canada, meanwhile, took third place with 7.4 out of 10. It offers a nice balance of a reasonable working week (8 hours a day and 40 hours a week) plus high pay of $48,000. However, it suffers when it comes to leave. It offers just six days of public holidays, 16 days paid holiday and no legal obligation to sick leave at all.

4. New Zealand
The happiness score of 7.3 out of 10 reflects a nice high wage of $45,000, and a reasonable working week of eight hours a day or 40 a week. It also has a huge amount of holiday - with 11 public holidays and 31 days of paid leave. Sick pay is set at 100% for 20 days. In many ways, the indicators would seem to indicate that the country should be higher up the list, but clearly happiness isn't something that can be dictated so easily.

5. Australia
This is another country with a reasonable working week of 8 hours a day or 38 hours a week. Pay is also high at $51,000, and days off are generous, with 10 public holidays and 30 days of paid leave. Sick pay, however, offers 100% of pay for just 10 days. The happiness score is therefore 7.3 out of 10.

6. USA
The happiness score of 7.1 out of ten owes a great deal to pay, which at $57,000 is the most attractive part of the system. The hours are reasonable again at an average of eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. However, there's no legal requirement to offer anything beyond the 11 public holidays, and there's no legal obligation to pay sick pay.

7. Germany
The happiness index score of 6.9 out of 10 reflects the generous leave on offer - at nine statutory days and 29 days paid holiday. There's also 100% sick pay for 30 days. Pay, meanwhile, is good at an average of $45,000 and the hours are reasonable at eight per day and 40 per week. Aside from the average working week, it outperforms the UK in every area.

8. Mexico
The happiness score of 6.7 out of ten comes despite dramatically lower wages than everywhere else in the top eight - at an average of $15,000. To earn this people work an average of eight hours a day, six days a week, for 48 hours a week. They only get five days of public holidays and 12 days of paid leave - although there is very generous sick pay of 100% for 260 days -and 60% thereafter. It goes to show that with lower living costs, and lower expectations of leisure time, workers are happier.

9. United Kingdom
Finally The UK makes it in at number nine, with an average happiness score of 6.7. The average working week is fairly typical, at eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, the average pay is $41,000, and we have eight days of public holidays and 28 days of paid leave. Sick pay, meanwhile is paid at £88 a week for 140 days - which is far from generous.

It's hard to know why we don't trump Mexico for happiness given the fact we work less for higher pay. It may be because of the higher cost of living - particularly housing - or it may be that we have much higher expectations of the joy that work ought to be bringing.

10. United Arab Emirates
This has an average score of 6.7 too - with a typical working week of eight hours a day for 40 hours a week (although it differs in that the usual days off are Friday and Saturday). Pay is high at $59,000, and there's plenty of time off, with 10 public holidays and 32 days of paid leave. Sick pay, meanwhile is 100% for 15 days and then 50% for 30 days. Given the generosity of the system, and the low tax environment, we can only assume that the lower happiness score is due to the fact that many workers are sacrificing their ideal location in order to take advantage of the money.

Ninth position isn't something UK workers will be terribly happy with. However, they can take some comfort from the fact that we're happier than French workers (at 6.4) and Italian workers (at 5.9). We also enjoy higher average pay than both countries.

But what do you think? Are you happy with the system in the UK? Or would you move somewhere else in order to be happier at work? Let us know in the comments.

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