Employment: British workers riding high in EU prosperity league

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The Independent Online
Workers have a better standard of living in the UK than in most other European Union countries even though their pay is often lower, according to a report today.

The average employee in Britain receives the equivalent of pounds 6.80 an hour compared with pounds 6.50 in Germany, pounds 6.30 in France and pounds 5.70 in Sweden, after adjustments for national differences in pricing and purchasing power, it was reported. Only workers in Luxembourg (pounds 7.40 an hour), Austria (pounds 7.10) and Ireland (pounds 7) receive more in net pay, said consultants Sedgwick Noble Lowndes.

"For many years the general impression has been that UK employees enjoy a lower standard of living than in other parts of central and northern Europe. This is certainly not borne out by the figures today," said David Formosa, Sedgwick's international research manager. "Other countries may offer higher gross salaries but this does not mean that their citizens are always better off."

Workers pay a comparatively smaller amount in tax and welfare contributions in the UK, which compensates for the generally lower level of earnings, said the report. For the average worker, deductions from gross earnings are 25 per cent in the UK, compared with 33 per cent in Germany and 38 per cent in Denmark. Bottom of the league is Portugal, where workers receive the equivalent of pounds 3.20 an hour despite having the lowest amount deducted from their salaries, the report showed.