By Jessie Van Amburg
February 18, 2016

Here’s some news that might make Americans want to move abroad: The United States is the least generous of the Western nations when it comes to providing benefits like maternity or paternity leave, paid vacation time and paid sick days, according to a new study.

Glassdoor, a company that catalogs salary details, published the report with the help of the London firm Llewelyn Consulting. The study used six key factors to rank the United States and 14 European countries: unemployment benefits, maternity-related entitlements, paternity-related entitlements, parental-related entitlements, annual leave, and sick pay. Countries were given a score in each category based on the length of the benefit (20 days of vacation time, for example) and how much pay (if any) workers receive while utilizing that benefit. (The exception was under the annual leave category, where length of benefit and inclusion of public holidays were examined). The countries were then given an aggregate score to determine their overall ranking. The most generous countries by score were Denmark (7.8), France (7.2) and Spain (6.4). The lowest-scoring countries were the United States (with an underwhelming 0.3), followed by Ireland and Switzerland, which were tied at 2.3.

The report concludes that this disparity comes down to public policy in America versus Europe.

“In the U.S., workplace benefits like unemployment, maternity/paternity leave and paid time off are part of the total compensation pie negotiated between employer and employee,” Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist, said in a statement.

In the European Union, where many benefits fall under governmental mandate, workers are entitled to 20 days of paid vacation and a minimum of 14.5 weeks of maternity leave (although pay on maternity leave varies from country to country).

Read more: How to Spend Less Time Working and More Time Enjoying Your Life

American workers, on the other hand, average 10 paid vacation days per year, according to the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research—and they don’t have any federally mandated parental or sick leave.

While laws or company policies may not change anytime soon, you can still negotiate your benefits in your current workplace, says Glassdoor community expert MaryJo Fitzgerald.

“While it is not likely to be able to negotiate better healthcare insurance benefits or a more robust retirement package, especially at a large company where these benefits are generally standard, you can still get creative with asking for benefits that are important to you and your work style,” she says. “For example, you could negotiate a more flexible working schedule and telecommuting options or find out if your employer can offer tuition assistance for furthering your education.”


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