How UK paid leave compares to other countries in Europe: in charts

The UK ranked in the bottom three countries for unemployment benefit, maternity and paternity entitlements

Hazel Sheffield
Thursday 18 February 2016 15:15
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, has warned that workers’ rights are at stake in the EU referendum
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, has warned that workers’ rights are at stake in the EU referendum

Britain has some of the worst employee benefits in Europe, according to a study.

The UK ranked in the bottom three countries for unemployment benefit, maternity and paternity entitlements, annual leave and sick pay in Europe, Glassdoor said.

Only Switzerland and Ireland came out worse.

“No governments have limitless budgets, but the general perception has always been that the UK provides a generous benefit scheme for all,” said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist.

“We now have evidence to suggest that Britain is no longer an easy ride, especially when compared to its European neighbours.

Denmark, France and Spain came out best for welfare benefits over all.

Union leaders have warned that workers’ rights are at stake in the EU referendum.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that a yes vote risks’ UK workers’ rights to paid holiday, maternity leave and fair treatment at work.

Glassdoor’s research shows that even within the EU, these benefits can vary widely.

Paid holiday entitlement in the EU is set at a minimum of four weeks per year, exclusive of bank holidays

But in Sweden, France and Denmark you can get 25 working days or the equivalent of five weeks, if you work full time as the Statista chart shows. In the US there is no statutory requirement to pay employees holiday leave at all.

The UK offers the longest maternity leave in Europe

At 52 weeks, UK maternity leave is some of the best in Europe. The statutory minimum under EU law is 14 weeks. The US has no mandated maternity leave pay.

Paternity leave is unregulated in the EU and benefits vary widely

But Finnish parents come out on top.

Under EU law, parents are entitled to 16 weeks of leave to care for their children.

Pay is regulated by each country. France and Germany come out on top. In the UK, all parental leave is unpaid and Switzerland offers none at all.

Sick pay is especially generous in the Netherlands

Workers there can be sick for 104 weeks, or two years, and still get 70 per cent of their salary. The UK is the least generous, offering 28 weeks paid leave.

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