The US ranks worst amongst developed nations for worker advantages
People wait in line at the St. Clements Food Pantry in New York City on December 11, 2020.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
Americans are worse off than any other developed nation when it comes to employee benefits, according to a new ranking.
According to Zenefits, a human resources company, the US ranks last relative to its national policies on health care, unemployment, retirement, parental leave, and paid vacation and sick leave.
The Czech Republic, Latvia, South Korea and Mexico joined the US in the five least generous countries. Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland were the top nations for employee performance.
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For example, the United States is the only advanced nation that does not guarantee workers paid vacation time, according to the Center for Economic and Political Research. In comparison, Europeans get at least 20 days of statutory vacation days, and in some countries at least 30 days are required.
It is also the only developed nation that does not provide universal health care to its citizens. The US spends more on health care relative to the size of its economy than other high-income countries. However, according to the Commonwealth Fund, it also has the highest number of hospitalizations due to preventable causes and the highest rate of preventable death compared to other wealthy nations.
Millions of workers used the US unemployment system during the Covid pandemic. But it is one of the least generous schemes in terms of the amount and duration of benefits. For example, while Denmark pays 90% of a worker's lost earnings for up to 104 weeks, the US typically replaces half of the previous wages for up to 26 weeks. (The federal legislature temporarily extended and increased the aid amounts during the pandemic.)
However, many of these US guidelines vary based on the state of the employee. Some state guidelines are more generous than federal minimum standards.
Legislature has passed several laws in Congress – such as paid vacation and minimum wage – that Zenefits said would improve benefits for working Americans if passed.