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Author Topic:   Working Conditions and Benefits
Straggler
Member (Idle past 179 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 1 of 57 (776129)
01-09-2016 4:58 AM


Before XMas we had some American colleagues over from our US office. As is customary we took them to the pub after work and given the time of year talk inevitably turned to holiday plans. The US guys stated that they received 10 days annual leave per year as compared to the standard 25 received by employees of the same company in the UK. The UK entitlement is on top of the public national holidays (of which there are 8 per year I believe)
The US guys get some sort of healthcare package which I imagine is worth a fair amount.
Employees for the same company in other European branches get even more leave entitlement than the UK staff.
All of this got me wondering about the working practices culture in different countries, the perception of work-life balance in different countries and whether there is any evidenced conclusions about worker productivity in these different worker environments.
Given we US and European members here I thought I'd ask what people's thoughts and experiences are.
Do you US guys look at us Europeans with envy? Do you think we are a bunch of lazy slackers? Do the Europeans think the American way is the way of the workaholic? And aren't we all in the developed Western nations heading down the American path of longer hours, less leave and less employment rights anyway (flexible labour market being the term used here in the UK)

Replies to this message:
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 9539
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 2 of 57 (776131)
01-09-2016 5:12 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
01-09-2016 4:58 AM


My experience working in the US was that US 'executives' suffer from presenteism. Not only do they have fewer holidays, they seem to be at work for longer hours. But they were no more productive for it - in my industry anyway.
In my experience it was a fear thing. I was surprised to find that my colleagues had no employment contracts, they can and were sacked without notice or warning and without compensation.
There are plenty of international productivity stats produced. The US is generally high up them, but there are plenty of buts.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.
Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android
"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 01-09-2016 4:58 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2016 9:36 AM Tangle has replied
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 57 (776134)
01-09-2016 5:57 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
01-09-2016 4:58 AM


Do you US guys look at us Europeans with envy?
I don't know if envy is the word, but it is obvious that Europeans enjoy a lot more holiday time. Additionally, because European countries are in close proximity to one another, it is not only easy to access multiple countries, but it is also much cheaper. Because Americans are locked in by two huge oceans, leaving the US to go anywhere outside of North America is difficult and expensive.
Added to this, Americans on average are compensated with a lot less time off, which means taking extended vacations pretty difficult.
Do you think we are a bunch of lazy slackers?
I know the Spanish concept of a "siesta" is considered bizarre and lazy by a lot of Americans, but I'm not sure that most Americans would think this way. I think the European system is better. I think it is healthier and will actually increase productivity to have more time off. Americans work too much and as a result, we are burned out.
Do the Europeans think the American way is the way of the workaholic?
We think the Japanese are workaholics, which is probably true, but we aren't much better.
And aren't we all in the developed Western nations heading down the American path of longer hours, less leave and less employment rights anyway (flexible labour market being the term used here in the UK)
I don't know. But as long as there are American conglomerates that do not value the health of its workforce and try to maximize profits, it is certainly possible.

"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1518 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 4 of 57 (776136)
01-09-2016 9:36 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by Tangle
01-09-2016 5:12 AM


In my experience it was a fear thing. I was surprised to find that my colleagues had no employment contracts, they can and were sacked without notice or warning and without compensation.
This is fairly recent and a result of ALEC "Right to Work" laws (which is orwellian speak for right to fire at any time with no reason).
Business and GOP have collaborated since Reagan to gut unions and associations for workers and have been rolling back the rights of workers ever since.
There are plenty of international productivity stats produced. The US is generally high up them, but there are plenty of buts.
Curiously I don't think those measure productivity but profits. By cutting union rights, installing fire at will legislation, and sending jobs to foreign soil the corporations effectively leave workers doing the same job for less pay. That boosts profits but not productivity.
When I lived in Canada I had four weeks vacation. When I moved back to the US I was offered 2 weeks standard, but bargained for 3.
Enjoy

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by our ability to understand
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This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 9539
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 5 of 57 (776144)
01-09-2016 11:08 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by RAZD
01-09-2016 9:36 AM


RAZD writes:
Curiously I don't think those measure productivity but profits.
I think it's measuring variants of GDP - which is "the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation's geographic borders over a specified period of time."
So it's the value of goods sold not just the profit made on them.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.
Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android
"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2016 9:36 AM RAZD has seen this message but not replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 179 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 6 of 57 (776158)
01-09-2016 1:40 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Tangle
01-09-2016 5:12 AM


GDP per Capita
The data you provide is productivity per hour worked. For example - The US, for every hour worked, produced 31 percent more output relative to the UK.
If those in the US are more productive per hour and they work more hours too then in terms of productivity per capita they must be absolutely kicking butt.
Looking at wiki gdp per capita Link shows the US ranked 10th and the U.K. ranked 27th.
So maybe the US has got it right on things like employee leave entitlement, non-contracts and generally (from a European perspective) rather harsh employee rights.......

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Replies to this message:
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LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 2496
Joined: 12-22-2015
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 7 of 57 (776164)
01-09-2016 5:07 PM


Your link didn't work
But I do know that Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland all have a higher per capita GDP than the USA. (non-socialist Australia does too)
Most if not all have higher productivity.
And all are socialist.

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1518 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 8 of 57 (776177)
01-09-2016 6:22 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
01-09-2016 1:40 PM


Re: GDP per Capita
If those in the US are more productive per hour and they work more hours too then in terms of productivity per capita they must be absolutely kicking butt.
Curiously I have seen graphs of productivity against time showing a clear trend to increased productivity over time.
They also show corporate profits following that trend while worker wages are flat-lined or decreasing.
This shows that the benefits of increased production are going to the top 1% and are not being shared by the people actually responsible for the work.
In my experience the work morale has dropped as the benefits of that extra work are siphoned off to the top, that people care less about the quality, that they don't enjoy work anymore.
So the question to you is: does increased production really result in a good measure of the social benefit?
Do we need increased production if the common worker doesn't benefit from it?
Enjoy

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
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to share.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 01-09-2016 1:40 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 179 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 57 (776183)
01-09-2016 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by RAZD
01-09-2016 6:22 PM


Re: GDP per Capita
Good question. Because as well as the trend for the UK to be slowly heading down the reduced employee rights path that the US has already implemented, we are also progressing down the path of the proceeds of growth being focussed at the top. Stagnating incomes for the majority and runaway accumulation at the top as the proceeds of improved productivity remain concentrated for the few.
So - In pure productivity terms the US model seems successful. But who is it successful for?
In terms iof international comparisons how can we measure whether the US or European model leads to better outcomes for all/most in terms of standard of living and quality of life?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2016 6:22 PM RAZD has replied

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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 57 (776184)
01-09-2016 7:21 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by RAZD
01-09-2016 9:36 AM


This is fairly recent and a result of ALEC "Right to Work" laws (which is orwellian speak for right to fire at any time with no reason).
At-Will states need written documentation to fire someone. They legally can't just fire you for no reason.
By cutting union rights, installing fire at will legislation, and sending jobs to foreign soil the corporations effectively leave workers doing the same job for less pay. That boosts profits but not productivity.
It could be argued that parasitic Union jobs are one of the reason why jobs are outsourced. Corporate greed being the other.
But if you compare how the Japanese automaker market is doing within the US versus domestic manufacturers, the unionized US workers are paid slightly more but the Japanese are outcompeting US car makers and offer more job stability and less layoff's.

"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

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Asgara
Member (Idle past 2416 days)
Posts: 1783
From: Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 05-10-2003


(5)
Message 11 of 57 (776185)
01-09-2016 7:45 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Hyroglyphx
01-09-2016 7:21 PM


Firing for no reason?
Do you know something that I'm not finding?
What Does Employment At-Will Mean? | Nolo
... An at-will employee can be fired at any time, for any reason (except for a few illegal reasons, spelled out below). If the employer decides to let you go, that's the end of your job--and you have very limited legal rights to fight your termination...
...Even if you are an at-will employee, you still cannot be fired for reasons that are illegal under state and federal law. In these situations, the government has decided to make an exception to the general rule of at-will employment.
For example, if your employer is subject to federal and state laws prohibiting job discrimination (as all but the smallest employers are), you cannot be fired because of certain characteristics, such as your race, religion, or gender. (For more information on discrimination, see Your Rights Against Discrimination and Harassment.) Similarly, you cannot be fired because you have complained about illegal activity, about discrimination or harassment, or about health and safety violations in the workplace (see Nolo's article Assert Your Safety Rights Without Fear of Retaliation). And you cannot be fired for exercising a variety of legal rights, including the right to take family and medical leave, to take leave to serve in the military, or to take time off work to vote or serve on a jury...
At-Will Employee FAQ's - FindLaw
...Many people are surprised to learn, whether from an employment contract or employee handbook, that they are an "at-will employee". But what does being an at-will employee mean? Being an at-will employee means that your employer can terminate your employment at any time, for any cause - with or without notice. An employer has every right to walk up to an at-will employee and say, "I don't like that your favorite color is purple. You're fired." There are very few, if any, remedies for you, unless your employer did something to violate your employee rights or broke labor laws....
Termination | U.S. Department of Labor
...In general, if the reason for termination is not because of discrimination on these bases, or because of the employee's protected status as a whistleblower, or because they were involved in a complaint filed under one of the laws enforced by the Department of Labor (see Whistleblower and Non-Retaliation Protections), then the termination is subject only to any private contract between the employer and employee or a labor contract between the employer and those covered by the labor contract....

Asgara
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NoNukes
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 12 of 57 (776188)
01-09-2016 8:20 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Hyroglyphx
01-09-2016 7:21 PM


At-Will states need written documentation to fire someone. They legally can't just fire you for no reason.
Employers in at will states can fire you for no reason. There are some reasons for firing you that are illegal (such as age discrimination). So employers maintain documentation to avoid being sued. Legally, all that is needed to avoid losing a suit for a discriminatory firing is a non-discriminatory reason even if that reason is a pretext. That is the purpose of the documentation.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King
If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions? Scott Adams

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1518 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(2)
Message 13 of 57 (776222)
01-10-2016 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
01-09-2016 7:07 PM


Re: GDP per Capita ≠ Happiness
In terms iof international comparisons how can we measure whether the US or European model leads to better outcomes for all/most in terms of standard of living and quality of life?
Good question.
One way would by by how the benefits of production are distributed among the employees; another would be by how the least well-off people are treated; a third would be by how much free time a person has to do what they want to do rather than what someone else wants them to do (hours per day, days per week, weeks per year).
Money doesn't measure happiness, so money is de facto a bad metric.
If we divided minimum wage by maximum wage America would rank near the bottom.
This thread is about Working Conditions and Benefits, so we should review the status of these.
Back when "America was Great" (the 1950's) unions were strong and the middle class had a fair(er) distribution of the profits from production.
Since then unions have been decimated and along with it the power of workers the negotiate for fair(er) wages. Unions were demonized (see Hyroglyphx's post above) so that people are no longer proud to be union members. I believe same is occurring in UK.
So now we have broad base demonstrations for minimum wage increases to catch up to the relative position they had under unions (and which benefited non-union workers as well as union workers, especially in middle management jobs for the middle class).
The unions gave us the 40 hr work week, vacation time, health benefits, safe working conditions, and the like; things that have become law for all workers, and this is the model for moving forward with progressive domestic policies, to use the laws rather than exclusive unions which have outgrown their need.
Emphasis on the workers in general getting a fair shake of the production pie is what has made Bernie Sanders so popular.
It is also why he got the endorsement from the Working Families Party as his policies match up to theirs:
quote:
Working Families is fighting for a brighter future for America.
One where the economy works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected. One where politicians are accountable to working people, instead of Wall Street lobbyists and corporate CEOs. One where all of us, no matter where we come from, can find a good job, get healthcare when we need it, afford a home, send our kids to good schools, and have a secure retirement.
We’re electing the next generation of progressive leaders and building grassroots power to renew the American Dream. ...
Working Families Issues
  • Affordable Housing
  • Climate Change
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Debt-free Higher Education
  • Fair Taxes, Fair Budgets
  • Great Public Schools
  • Green Economy
  • Healthcare
  • Minimum Wage
  • Money out of Politics
  • Paid Sick Days
  • Racial Justice
  • Retirement Security
  • Voting Rights
  • Women's Economic Justice
  • Worker's Rights

I've said before that Unions served a valuable service to workers, but that they should have expanded their goals to include all workers, and evolved to get their issues addressed in public laws that apply to everyone. This would involve a "labor party" in America (like you see in other nations, like UK), but the US is hog-tied by the two party system due to the way voting is done (third parties are just not that viable an option here)/
This is what Working Families is doing, by working within the Democratic Party to shift it to progressive goals (as the Tea Party shifted the GOP to the extreme right).
We KNOW that GOP (corporate) "trickle-down economics" is just a tool to concentrate wealth at the top at the expense of all lower levels. We KNOW from the economic meltdown (from big bank\corporate greed and gambling with mortgages etc) started at the bottom and took down the whole house of cards, that the true economy is trickle-UP.
Enjoy
Edited by RAZD, : .

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1518 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 14 of 57 (776246)
01-10-2016 9:32 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
01-09-2016 7:07 PM


Another Perspective
This compares countries on 8 indices:
quote:
Which country best represents the "free world"?
That was one question at the heart of a report by a London-based think tank.
Each year, the Legatum Institute ranks countries on theirProsperity Indexby measuring performance oneight subindices.
Where's the freest place in the world? A London think tank has the answer.
Amongtheir most notable findings for 2015is a new global leader for personal freedom.
That would be Canada.
The Canucks ascended five places since the previous year to take the #1 seat for personal freedom.
They took the top spot because over 92% of survey respondents said they believe Canada is both welcoming to immigrants and "tolerant" of ethnic minorities, and 94% feel they have the freedom to shape their own futures.
Looks like the US rates 11th overall
Enjoy

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 2496
Joined: 12-22-2015
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 15 of 57 (776391)
01-12-2016 4:58 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by RAZD
01-10-2016 9:32 PM


These discussions will take on a real life if Sanders wins
The United States will be an interesting place with an economic progressive getting lots of airtime.
We might have some real issue discussions.
I'm economically conservative (I think unemployment insurance and many mandates tax job hiring thus hurt poor people prospects plus are benefits that are designed to help upper income people pay their bloated mortgages) on business regulatory issues, but the Republicans are a bunch of plastic cookie cutter drones (Paul Ryan only rehashes tired old crap and is portrayed as an "intellectual" in the media).
I look forward to a Sanders win. It will force some real discussion of many issues.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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