I was interested to read on Reuters (a source of real news unlike what passes for news in the US) the results of an eight year study that compared workers’ benefits around the world. The fifteen most competitive countries in the world over the last decade (as ranked by the World Economic Forum) are Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the United States.
Out of those 15, 14 mandate paid sick leave, 13 guarantee paid maternal leave, and 12 provide paid paternal leave. And these rights are guaranteed by law. A further 11 also provide paid leave to care for sick children and 8 provide paid leave to care for adult family members.
Looking at slightly less competitive countries the report found that out of 190 countries, 163 guaranteed paid sick leave and 164 guarantee paid annual leave. 177 guaranteed paid maternal leave and 74 guaranteed paid paternal leave. 157 countries guarantee workers a day of rest each week.
Can you guess which country doesn’t guarantee its workers any one of these rights? Not a single one?
That’s right! It’s the good old USA!
I have to be honest, this comes as no surprise to me. When I asked my wife about her working conditions when I first moved over here I was absolutely staggered by her answers. Everything in the US is geared towards employers and not employees. Now this article is only about paid rights, it doesn’t touch on other issues such as contracts, job descriptions and protection. Workers here can be fired on any old whim – try that in a European country and see what happens. Industrial tribunals just love companies that do stuff like that.
Everywhere else in the world that I have lived and worked employees have rights. They don’t here. Perhaps one of my American readers can tell me why they put up with this?