US Workers Rank Last in Benefits

Cropped shot of a pregnant businesswoman giving a presentation in the boardroom.
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Are you shocked to learn that U.S. workers have the lowest benefits among developed countries? You probably are not, but the data is nevertheless interesting. Privately held employee benefits firm Zenefits analyzed the situation and found the following:

See: 6 Uncommon Job Benefits You Should Demand Right Now
Find: 5 Things to Negotiate at Your Job Other Than Salary

Health care: The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health insurance. For people without insurance, the U.S. ranks 15th in terms of public health care availability. Canada, Denmark and Sweden have the best employee health insurance benefits.

Retirement: In terms of retirement benefits, the U.S. ranks 16th worldwide. Only 24% of white employees and 16% of employees of color are covered by an employer retirement plan.

Paid time off: The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid time off. American workers have no right to paid vacation time or paid public holidays. In Europe, employees receive 20 to 30 paid days off a year — by law.

See: What Is a Pension Plan and How Does It Work?
Find: Should Employers Require Workers to Take Time Off?

Sick leave: The U.S. is the only developed country that does not offer workers paid sick leave. Whether they have a cold or cancer, U.S. workers might not get paid for the time they take for treatment.

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Parental leave: The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries, and not just developed countries, that does not provide paid maternity leave. While Canadians talk about their “mat leave” year, Americans can take only 12 weeks off, and only if they meet certain qualifications under the law. But without pay, many families cannot afford even that much.

Work-life balance: Here, the American ethos of “work hard, play hard” helps us. Our approach to work places us in the middle of the pack. We enjoy a far more balanced perspective than workers in, say, Turkey or Korea.

See: The 50 Best Companies for Working Moms
Find: 20 Companies That Let You Bring Your Dog to Work

Unemployment benefits: In terms of eligibility, amount of income covered and length of coverage, U.S. unemployment benefits are about average in terms of generosity. This may be of small consolation to those slogging through the COVID recession.

Overall, Zenefits ranks the U.S. 29th in terms of worker benefits. Latvia, South Korea and Mexico are at 26th, 27th and 28th, respectively. At the top? Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.

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