A revealing new study by the website Glassdoor shows that unemployment benefits in Britain are among the least generous in Europe, contrary to inflated and inaccurate claims in some sections of the British media.
The report – Which Countries in Europe Offer the Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits? – exposes how social protections against unemployment in Britain are some of the least generous in Europe, with only Switzerland and Ireland paying less overall.
Some of the highest paid leave and unemployment benefits were in Denmark, France and Spain. Although benefits in the Netherlands and Sweden were also fairly ‘generous’.
However, researchers are keen to stress that the study does not include other benefit entitlements, such as Housing Benefit and disability-related benefits.
Key findings include (source: Glassdoor):
- It’s never good to be out of work, but Denmark is the ‘best’ place in Europe to be unemployed with residents receiving 90 percent of previous earnings granted for up to 104 weeks. As a benchmark, the U.S. offers between 40 percent and 50 percent of earnings for up to 26 weeks, depending on the individual state.
- Paid sick leave is most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to 104 weeks and receive 70 percent of their salary for the whole period.
- The most generous amount of maternity leave by some considerable margin is in the UK with Ireland a close second at 52 and 42 weeks respectively. In terms of pay however, in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain new mothers get 100 percent of previous earnings for the entire period. In the UK, 39 of the 52 weeks are paid, the first six weeks at 90 percent of earnings, and the remainder at up to £140-odd per week.
- Paternity leave is not regulated by the EU, so entitlements vary. However new fathers in Finland receive a massive 45 working days off, leading the pack by some considerable margin. UK dads get just 10 working days off.
- Sweden, France and Denmark all offer 25 days paid leave a year as minimum –the highest entitlement. Spain is a great place for public holidays with 14 offered to those based there, whereas the UK and the Netherlands each provide eight days as standard.
Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist as Glassdoor, said: “The social safety net is an integral part of today’s labour market. Unemployment benefits take the rough edges off the business cycle, and paid maternity leave has been shown to improve children’s wellbeing for decades down the road.
“Although popular, workplace social benefits remain controversial. Programs typically aim at three goals: Providing help to workers in need, preserving work incentives, and keeping costs under control.
“Economists teach these goals are fundamentally in conflict—the so-called “iron triangle” of social welfare programs. More of one goal implies less of the others, requiring hard trade-offs when designing programs.
“This report from Glassdoor Economic Research, conducted by Llewellyn Consulting, provides an eye-opening tour of workplace benefits in Europe.
“We compare the generosity of social benefits in five key areas: Unemployment benefits, paid maternity and paternity leave; general parental leave; paid holiday allowances; and paid sick leave.
“Workplace social programs in Europe are generally far more generous than in the U.S. Yet even within Europe benefits vary dramatically. Ireland, Switzerland, and the U.K. offer only modest benefits while Denmark, France, and Spain offer some of the most generous workplace benefits in the world.
“Europe in many ways is an experimental laboratory for workplace policies. What can we learn from Europe’s vast experience about what works—and what doesn’t—in workplace social benefits?
“Our mission at Glassdoor is to help people find a job and company that they love. By helping job seekers, employers and policy makers better understand the workplace social safety nets available throughout Europe, we hope this report contributes to that goal.”