Paid Vacation (Holiday Leave)
In the UK everyone gets six weeks paid leave (vacation) by law from the first day of work. In contrast there is no legal minimum in the USA but my understanding is that typically Americans usually get about two weeks’ paid vacation once they’ve worked for their new employer for at least a year.
Average working Week
The average working week in the UK is 42.5 hours per week; and the average working week in the USA is 44 hours.
I don’t know about the USA, but in the UK there is a great emphases on the importance of ‘flexible working’ as a means to achieve a greater work/life balance.
Flexible working takes many forms and can include any of the following:-
• Home Working
• Flexible Working Hours
• Part Time Working and
• Job Sharing
Since 2014 every employee now has the legal right to request ‘Flexible Working’ from their employer; and if your employer refuses your request they must show clear grounds for doing so, based on clear business reasons, otherwise you can take them to an Industrial Tribunal; which in the UK is a free Government service.
Creating a flexible working culture at John Lewis Partnership (Retail) and Ford UK (Manufacturing): https://youtu.be/2Qs0EL6JWD0
Paid Vacation: In the US it is customary to give those 2 weeks of paid time off, termed "vacation time". We also give about another 2 weeks of "holiday pay": specific days that are paid time off. There is also "sick pay", intended to continue pay for a person too sick to come into work, but almost universally abused as just another day off with pay, used to go fishing, visit family, whatever. This is, more and more, built into vacation pay instead. Does the UK have these other paid time off periods, or are the holidays built into the six weeks?
Average work week: I think a more useful metric is hours worked per year. Using your figures, UK workers are at their job 1932 hours per year, while those in the US are producing for 2200 hours per year. That's quite a difference - over a month and a half less for a 40 hour job.
Flexible time - outside of part time and job sharing, it's difficult to see how any but some office workers can work flexible hours. Certainly an assembly line worker can't, nor anyone part of a crew of people where everyone has an assigned task. A waitress can't wait tables when the business is closed - a problem common to every customer service job. Scheduling can turn into a true nightmare for management, similar to what our fast food joints do with kids in school. There doesn't seem to be a major drive in the US to make such work available (too costly or simply impossible), to the point that it can be difficult to even job share. COVID may very well change that for office workers operating from home though - the shutdowns have made it very clear that a good deal of paper shuffling can be done from home just fine.
These "stone age" labour conditions in the USA are probably responsible for very few Europeans coming over to the US for work. My former company has business units in the US. Nobody from Germany went voluntarily over the ocean and accepted local contracts. All worked as expats with German conditions. As business grew, eventually our main facility in the state of New York had to adapt and was no longer able to sustain American conditions.
And i am not talking UK conditions. Our conditions are: 35 hours/week. 6 weeks of payed holidays plus some 10 days of official holidays like Easter, Christmas, National and religious holidays. Up to 6 weeks of payed sick leave (after certification by your practitioner). Unpayed 1 year parental leave for either mother and/or father of newborn.
You think this generous? Certainly is, but Volkswagen work contracts are even more generous, working hours down to 28 hours/week with full pay. And i know from my Dutch collegues they often work only 4 days per week.
Including guaranteed Christmas bonus this ends up in 13,5 months pay per year for 10 months of work. Certainly gives enough money to party and enough time.
Of course there is no free lunch. All benefits must be compensated for by high work efficiency. The ultimate meter is that the company, the economy, the country gets by without living beyond its means, not piling up debt, not burning finances, simply being competitive.
While I might agree that it is a good balance between work and play, many will not. They want the money, and the toys that money buys, even without the extra time to use them. And frankly, for most of my life supporting a family I would agree with them - at one time I had the 6 weeks vacation...but without the funding to make use of that time except to sit at home. I never did take all the time off I could, instead working for "free" (I was salaried, not hourly).
Yeah I’ve heard of Americans not always taking all the paid leave they are entitled to? In the UK your employer will not let you not take your leave entitlement; if you’re coming to the end of your leave year and you’ve got too much leave leftover your employer will put a lot of pressure on you to take your outstanding leave.
As well as the six week paid leave (vacation leave), in the UK we also get:-
• 8 Bank Holidays a year as listed below,
• Up to 12 days paid sick pay per year for uncertified sick leave e.g. taking a day off because of a tummy bug.
• Time off (paid) for doctor appointments, hospital appointments and dentist.
• 39 weeks paid maternity leave, and 2 weeks paid paternity leave.
Below list of Bank Holidays (universal paid leave) in the UK:-
• New Year’s Day = 1st Jan (or the first Monday in Jan if the 1st is on a weekend)
• Good Friday
• Easter Monday
• May Day (first Monday in May)
• Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May)
• August Bank Holiday (last Monday in May)
• Christmas Day (or the following Monday if on a weekend)
• Boxing Day on 26th December (or a Monday/Tuesday if on a weekend)
Yep, certainly part time working and job sharing is the easiest form of flexible working that can be applied to almost any job; whereas homeworking and or flexible hours is more challenging for some types of work; but where there is the ‘will’ on both sides it is surprising what can be archived e.g. UK employers seem to be generally more accommodating to the wishes of their employees than Companies in the USA: A cultural thing?
Thank you for confirming the point I was trying to make about part time, gig work, job sharing, etc.
"UK employers seem to be generally more accommodating to the wishes of their employees than Companies in the USA: A cultural thing?"
UK employers do seem to be more accommodating on average. Yes, a cultural thing and the way our government makes laws to prevent worker rights. --i.e. anti- union laws. I have noticed that the recent stimulus checks forced many employers to up their pay and, in some cases, offer more flexibility. I think that is great and is just what American workers need. More freedom is always a win in my book.
Never had it without having to earn it at a rate of about 1 hour for every 8 hours worked.
>Average work week
I love the overtime laws in most of our states, so I wish the average was higher. Most employers cut hours so harshly that that average seems disingenuous without context.
Everything is so competitive here that if you don't want that horrible job immediately, then there are ten others willing to take even less than what is being offered for it. You either have an awesome employer, or you do not.
I'd love to hear the difference between the US and UK as it concerns corporate emphasis on social issues and politics. I had to sit in a board meeting this year where they dragged out employees of color in exchange for vacation time to berate non-colored workers. The meeting was literally titled, "Exposing White Privilege in the Workplace," and there were more than a few dismissals from the company for those who refused to take part due to "concerns over racist intents." For about 73 minutes I watched people beg (not exaggerating) to have their privilege checked by those they trotted out like chattel, and their discomfort was apparent despite being given vacation time for it.
That same board boarded (board boarded made me laugh) up our office out of fear of violent protests, and in the same memo about the office closure encouraged going out to protest.
Is the UK as much of a hateful clown-world as the US in the workplace?
Nope, I’m glad to say, the UK isn’t a hateful clown-world in the workplace, like the USA is; if for no other reason, the various tough anti-discriminatory laws, including ‘hate crime’ & 'hate speech' wouldn’t allow for such shenanigans, without serious consequences, including potentially criminal prosecution.
In the UK the main anti-discrimination law is the ‘Equality Act of 2010’. The Act protects against discrimination relating to:-
• Gender reassignment
• Marriage and civil partnership
• Pregnancy and maternity
• Religion or belief
• Sexual orientation
The four types of discrimination under British law are:-
1. Direct Discrimination e.g. treating one person worse than another. For example an employer not giving an older person a chance for promotion because he thinks people’s memories get worse as they get older (Ageism).
2. Indirect Discrimination e.g. a rule or policy that has a worse impact on someone on the protected list than it would on others. For example a Local Government organising a consultation for proposed redevelopment with local residents in the evening maybe considered discriminatory against mothers because of their childcare responsibilities.
3. Harassment; under the law this means people cannot treat you in a way that violates your dignity, or creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment e.g. the waiters and waitresses in a restaurant making derogatory and offensive comments about a customer who is disabled (physically or mentally).
In addition to the above, in the UK Hate Crime & Hate Speech laws comes under other various Legislation; for example hate speech can include a gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against people on the grounds of race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.
So in practice, making defamatory comments about someone on Facebook on the grounds of race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation is a criminal offence in the UK, and can lead to prosecution by the police.
I always love all your facts, man, you really lay things out in an interesting way that I'm always eager to read.
It sounds to me like that is a pretty good system, but how often are the courts overflowing with these sort of cases? If this system were fully implemented in America, because we have similar less stringent laws, our overloaded court systems would never get anything done. My last appearance in civil court was with about 20 other cases that day alone, and that was just the morning session; I couldn't imagine what would happen if we upped the ante on social justice.
The maximum penalty for ‘Hate Speech’ in a criminal court in the UK:-
• If a person intends to stir up racial hatred, or causes racial hatred, then the maximum penalty is 7 years in prison or a fine, or both.
• If a person uses or displays abusive, threatening, or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour then the person is guilty with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress, and the maximum penalty is six months in prison or a fine.
The maximum penalty in a Tribunal under the Equality Act of 2010 is:-
• A lower band of £900 ($1,272) to £8600 ($12,155): For less serious cases.
• A middle band of £8600 ($12,155) to £25,700 ($36,327): For cases that do not merit an award in the upper band.
• An upper band of £25,700 ($36,327) to £42,900 ($60,639): The most serious cases — e.g. where there has been a lengthy campaign of harassment.
In answer to your question:
For Hate Crime in the UK in 2019 the police prosecuted 12,828 people, of which 10,817 were either found guilty or pleaded guilty. The cases prosecuted were for:-
• Racial (9,931)
• Homophobic (1,624)
• Religious (605)
• Disability (579) and
• Transphobic (89)
As regards to cases under the Equality Act of 2010, I don’t have any specific data to hand; but for Employment tribunals in general, which as well as dealing with ‘unfair dismissal’ cases also includes discriminatory cases under the Equality Act 2010, in 2019 there a total of 103,984 employment tribunal applications made.
It’s not just the UK, but the EU has similar laws.
Surprisingly low statistics considering my kneejerk reaction to these laws at first glance is to think they're very strict. Would you happen to have the racial data as it concerns which races were affected? Also, what would be the per capita on these statistics?
Here in America, from what I hear in gossip about Europe and its surrounding geography, is that it tends to be an overwhelmingly Caucasian sect of society being charged, all the while racially motivated crimes are swept under the rug or blatantly ignored if the culprit(s) is(are) other-than-white. Specifically, immigrants are given a free pass in many cases if American media is to be believed.
Very good questions: I’m not sure I can put my finger on all the data without considerable research, but I can provide Ethnicity data and an overview of the current status in the UK.
Until the Brexit Referendum in 2016 the UK was a very tolerant nation e.g. survey of 2019 (although post Brexit) found that the UK is the least raciest country in Europe.
Certainly, in my whole live I’ve seen very little racism in Europe, specifically in the UK, and I have had lots of workmates, neighbours, relative and friends of ethnic minorities, for example:-
• My brother’s wife is black, and hence their children are mixed ethnic.
• Our neighbours (two doors up), a close social friend of ours) is a married couple from China; they immigrated to the UK because they wanted two children.
• I am now retired, by my old boss (who is also retired, and with whom we socialise e.g. BBQs), his wife is black.
• Before I retired, I’ve worked quite happily with people from all ethnic groups, including Muslims.
• A local shop owner (and his family) with whom we socialise, are Indian.
I think the American news media does over dramatize things a bit; so although there may sometime be some truth in what is being said (dependant on which news media is saying it e.g. Fox News tend to tell ‘porky pies’, while CNN may twist the facts a little sometimes), things are not a bleak, or as black and white as portrayed in the American press.
Speaking specific in relation to the UK; most racism does tend to be against non-whites, even from the police. However, the Brexit Referendum has bitterly split the country (with half the population being anti-European and half the population being pro-European), with the unfortunate consequence that racism in the UK has increased significantly since the Brexit Referendum e.g. rather than just racism against non-whites, non-Europeans, and Muslims; also a rise in racism against non-Brits e.g. racism against other white Europeans, such as the Polish, because they are not British.
For example, data I stumbled across for Wales.
Wales ‘hate crime’ figures pre & post Brexit Referendum:
• Hate crime in Wales in 2014 (pre Brexit vote) = 1,892
• Hate crime in Wales in 2018 (post Brexit vote) = 2,371
Ethnicity of London:-
• White British = 44.9%
• Other Whites = 14.9%
Total Whites in London = 59.8%
• Asians (including India and China) = 18.4%
• Blacks = 13.3%
• Other ethnic groups = 3.4%
• Mixed ethnic groups = 5.1%
Total non-whites in London = 40.2%
Ethnicity of Bristol (where I live):-
• White British = 77.9%
• Other Whites = 6.1%
Total Whites in Bristol = 84%
• Asians = 5.5%
• Blacks = 6%
• Other ethnic groups = 0.9%
• Mixed ethnic groups = 3.6%
Total non-whites in Bristol = 16%
Although London is very multicultural, and Bristol has a high level of ethnic diversity (like most any city in England), there is a lot of ethnic tolerance and very little visible racism; even to the extent that Londoners have developed their own English dialect e.g. Multicultural London English:-
The Sound of the Multicultural London English dialect (Numbers, Greetings, Words & Sample Text): https://youtu.be/6FHhHJCPqFU
Multicultural London English (MLE): https://youtu.be/0KdVoSS_2PM
And in Bristol (where I live) the accent and dialect (which I speak) is Bristolian:-
Accent Training: How To Do A Bristol Accent: https://youtu.be/G3vCiqUuhWc
Adge cutler & The wurzels Thee's Got'n Where Thee Cassn't Back'n, Hassn't: https://youtu.be/AnKjwOLiBTg
In the above classic Bristol song from the 1970s the phrase “Thee's Got'n Where Thee Cassn't Back'n, Hassn't” is Bristolian for “You’ve got it stuck in a place where you can’t back it out”
One area of society that I forgot to mention because they live largely outside of Society and hence the law, where there is little tolerance for and a lot of prejudice against in Britain are the Gypsies.
In Britain there are three types of gypsies:-
• Romany Gypsies, who have been in Britain since at least 1515, with an estimated population of about 200,000.
• Irish Travellers, who have been living in Britain since at least the 1650’s, with an estimated population of about 19,000, and
• Modern Day Travellers (people who have decided, for whatever reason, to drop out of society and live on the roads like a gypsy); they have an estimated population of about 100,000.
No one likes a gypsy camp settling on public land near them, so when they do the local residents complain to the local authority (Local Government), who then get a court order for the police to evict the gypsies from the land (move them on).
Occasionally a Local Government (Local Authority) will provide open land for gypsies to settle, and try to integrate the gypsies back into society; but not very often.
Gypsies in Britain Fight Against Being Evicted By Police: https://youtu.be/JlmpwcSQKAI
An Authorised Gypsy Camp in Britain: https://youtu.be/JKOmCClzqik
Racing with the Gypsies on the British Roads: https://youtu.be/nh29y0Bs8SY
In response to both posts:
Would you say that the colloquial definition for the term racism, the connotations of it, are more extreme or less so in the UK as compared to the US?
Here in the US, as I'm sure you can tell, we can slap the term racism onto just about anything, and we regularly do regardless of context. We cause riots using racial tensions as the driving factor, and we do so with the sole intent of bringing about as much damage as possible. I know you guys had protests over George Floyd, a case that is still contentious and most believe has seen more injustice occur on all sides than any other case we have seen in the past; can it be called as extreme as the US's racial-sociopolitical situation?
My impression is that racial tension is a lot less in the UK than the USA; generally people in Britain don’t band around racist remarks, and there isn’t the racial tension that you see in the USA.
Sure, statistically, in the UK black people tend to get picked on more than white people by the police, but beyond that I see little evidence of racial tensions in Britain.
Although it’s not unique, and it does happen in the USA as well, I am proud that Bristol (where I live) has just re-elected for a second term of office a ‘Black Mayor’; just as London has just re-elected for a second term a ‘Muslim Mayor’.
Yeah, the George Floyd/BLM protests in the USA. That sparked protest action in Bristol (where I live) of pulling down a statue associated with the slave trade; specifically pulling down the Statue of Edward Colston who is commemorated in Bristol for donating his wealth to the building of schools and hospitals and other important public buildings in Bristol; wealth which he earnt from the blood money of the slave trade, trading through the Bristol ports.
With 24 hours of Bristolians pulling down Edward Colston’s statue, and dumping it in the docks, there was a spate of BLM protest across all the major cities in Britain; pulling down statues of anyone associated with the Slave Trade. And within 48 hours the practice of toppling statues had spread across the pond back to the USA; where the original BLM protests that sparked the BLM protest in Bristol had started.
Within 3 days of BLM protesters toppling the slave trader’s statue in Bristol a detailed analysis of the public opinion of Bristolians showed that:
• 53% of Bristolians think that everything named after Colston and other slave traders in Bristol should be renamed.
• 18% of Bristolians think that some of the places bearing his name, but not all, should be renamed.
• 29% of Bristolians think that nothing should be renamed.
• 61% of Bristolians said the protesters were right to pull down the statue.
• 56% of Bristolians feel that throwing the statue in the water was the right thing to do.
• 60% of Bristolians feel that it was not right that Bristol had the statue in the first place, because of Colston's links to the slave trade.
• 27% of Bristolians feel the statue had its place, as it was possible to acknowledge his contribution to the city while condemning his links to the slave trade.
• 12% of Bristolians feel that Colston was an important part of the city's history and that he deserved a statue.
• 3% of Bristolians feel that Colston was not important enough to have a statue.
• 57% of Bristolians feel that they did not think those responsible for toppling the statue should face criminal charges.
Who was slave trader Edward Colston and why was his statue pulled down? https://youtu.be/l70SI9I1UPk
I've never been a big fan of people made into statues unless they are mystical beings. It always felt comparable to men with large trucks and loud sports cars, you just don't need statues like those these days. Thinking along the same lines of logic that social movements do, though, there isn't a single human worthy of being immortalized in such a way; everyone sucks in their own special way, but it would also be a false equivalent to say everyone is at the level of a scummy slave owner.
I often wonder how people would've acted had we not ran everything through the court of public opinion before a verdict had been rendered, and I think about this a lot for many different situations. Would people still have protested and rioted, statues been toppled, and politicians calling for more? Should the media continue to be allowed to have the full range of the first amendment, or would it be better to limit American media under an equality and equity law?
I wonder how it would affect racial tensions if the media were lawfully gagged, and they saw financial repercussions for purposefully sparking tensions? My expectations that America moves away from skewering people and topics unfairly through the media are the opposite of what I proposed here, but it would be interesting to see it in practice for a time.
An interesting point; and interestingly, although the British Press still have the ‘Freedom of the Press’ for now; the British News Media on TV do not. I do say for now in that the UK Government is at an advanced stage of Regulating the Internet, including Facebook; while the British newspapers, fearful that they’ll be included in the new Regulations are lobbying the UK Government seeking ‘self-regulation’ for themselves as a reasonable compromise.
British TV is heavily ‘Regulated’ to prevent New Channels from being anything other than ‘balanced’ and ‘unbiased’; and I do find that refreshing: For example, you can pick up some newspapers and see ‘sensational’ headlines and news stories that you know are misleading, and which causes tension e.g. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were hounded by the British Press from the time of their wedding until they fled the UK. Whereas in the UK if you sit down and watch the News on TV (any British News Channel) you’ll just see strait news reporting, generally a bit dry but basically factual with no danger of being racist against minority groups or inciting violence.
A good comparison is the difference of how Ebola was Reported on TV in the USA vs UK:-
The Difference between US vs UK Ebola News Coverage: https://youtu.be/lAz-F1QnyCk
OFCOM (UK’s Official Media Watchdog)
• What is Ofcom? https://youtu.be/cdVUr-NrXng
• Five Things You Can't Do On British Television: https://youtu.be/m__OZ3ZsO4Y
• UK Media Watchdog (Ofcom) Fines Khalsa TV (a Sikh TV Channel broadcasted in UK) for broadcasting a music video with violent content against India: https://youtu.be/2PEdrdctEQE
I might need to move to the UK just so I can understand and empathize with these restrictions there. As an American, just the thought of limiting free speech is scary to the point of wanting to refuse change, but as a logical human being there's no reason we need to be able to express every turd-of-a-thought we have (especially when we have the power to broadcast it to every corner of the world simultaneously).
Shifting gears: What is the rent/wage situation there in the UK? Is it like America, where anyone younger than boomers are the struggling majority unable to afford apartments and homes without roommates, and everyone looks down on them per the media? Are low-wage jobs as coveted by the old as the young, and the job market so competitive most people would sooner live off of government benefits?
I want to stay in America, but the truth of the matter is that my job requires I live one of three places: California, Texas, or Detroit. All three of these places are beyond unfair with wages vs. living costs/quality, as if I move from California to Texas they'll severely reduce my pay, and if I move to Detroit, well, I'm not moving to effing Detroit. I've always wondered if it would behoove me to just up and move to a foreign country.
As a westerner (free democratic country) I believe in ‘free speech’; but as a European, our perception of ‘free speech’ is different to an American’s perception.
As A European, our perception is that with ‘free speech’ comes ‘responsibility’: If we have the freedom to say what we like, we should do so with respect, so that we don’t hurt or cause harm to vulnerable groups/minority groups who can’t so easily stand up for themselves e.g. verbal attacks on the elderly, disabled or people of ethnic minority, which may insult them or incite violence against them.
From a European perspective, only bullies poke fun at, insult, or hurt, those less fortunate than themselves. Using ‘Free Speech’ with the ‘Responsibility’ of ‘Restraint’ isn’t that difficult once you get used to it; it’s not generally that difficult to express your feelings without insulting vulnerable groups’, you just express things diplomatically, by avoiding un-parliamentary language and being politically correct if need be. Extreme examples from the 1980s being; calling someone charring a meeting a ‘chairperson’ rather than a ‘chairman’, and someone who delivers letters a post-person rather than the postman.
Living Conditions in the UK
Yeah, like America, people younger than the baby boomers (my generation) are the struggling majority who generally are unable to afford flats and homes without roommates; although I wouldn’t say everyone, nor the media, looks down on them.
It’s not as bleak as it sounds in that in the UK if you are homeless your Local Government has a legal obligation to provide you with housing (Council House); a Council House being ‘Social Housing’ built and owned by Local Governments. Also, if you’re on a low income, or unemployed, then you can claim ‘housing benefit’ from the Government e.g. where the Government pays your rent for you.
Notwithstanding the pandemic, which has desecrated the ‘hospitality industry’; generally speaking there are job opportunities for all who are prepared to work for it e.g. plenty of opportunities for retraining and re-education to acquire skills and qualifications for whatever job market interests you.
The Government has numerous retraining schemes for the unemployed to learn new skills and get a job; and even if you’re working, getting qualifications at college (evening classes) or doing an ‘Open University’ Degree isn’t expensive e.g. some years back an unemployed and unmarried mother living opposite us went back to university, got herself a degree in ‘Business Administration’ and became a fully qualified ‘Professional Accountant’.
What’s an Open University Degree Like? https://youtu.be/Pj0rbafFBak
But generally speaking, yes, if you are young, not well educated, and not very experienced then you will find it harder to find work, and yes, older people approaching retirement may well compete with you for the low paid jobs.
Yeah, there are people who live off of government benefits (a number of our friends do), some because of circumstances and some because they don’t want to work; but generally most people do want to work, and generally most people who want to work do find work.
And of course, in the UK there is the ‘Legal Minimum Wage’; which at the moment is £8.91 ($12.57) per hour.
If by chance you ever did decide to immigrate to the UK, with the exception of the NHS, foreigners are not entitled to UK welfare benefits until they’ve been living and working (and paying taxes) in the UK for two years. As regards the NHS, everyone (including foreigners) are entitled to free emergency care, but you do have to pay £624 ($880) per year, for the length of your visa, for full universal healthcare on the NHS, which is then free at the point of use e.g. free ambulance service if you need it; GP appointments are free, free hospitals and operations etc., including free delivery and postnatal care.
Years ago, at our old address, we had an American couple move in the house behind us, temporarily working in the UK on Visa, and while they were over here the wife was due to give birth. Her parents sent them $10,000 to cover the cost of the birth, not knowing that in the UK it’s a free service.
My experience using the NHS | Foreigner in the UK: https://youtu.be/yqVORxJ8noU
Pregnant American Woman's thoughts about the NHS in England: https://youtu.be/AGdQkkc_Pts
>$880 per year
I'm paying $350.00 per month for, "free everything," and every time I hear foreigners talk about their healthcare system it makes my bank account throb with angst. Our system may be great for the economy, but my bank account effing hates it, there is nothing frugal or fair about it.
I've also come to learn recently that insurance fraud is regularly committed by almost every practice as it concerns their pricing, what they charge the insurance companies. As I had multiple doctors I interviewed recently admit to, they, "upcharge the insurance companies so that the patient does not have to pay anything, and the debt left on the patient disappears unless someone files the receipt with a collections agency."
When I interviewed some representatives of BCBS (insurance company) they said they were already well aware that fraud is the way the world works, and they don't care; they still pay whatever they have to pay. An endearing notion that they care so much about the patient they will commit fraud both ways, but less so when I see what I, and many others, are paying for this fraud to be committed. So now I don't understand why lobbyists push for laws that require this fraud to be committed, because it isn't sustainable in the long-term.
Ugh, life is so complicated, but your information at least helps me put some pieces of the puzzle where they belong.
Wow, I knew that Americans pay steeply for their healthcare; but when I’m used to having free healthcare (no medical insurance to pay because it’s all paid for by the taxpayer) the thought of anyone having to pay $350 per month on healthcare makes me shudder.
I took early retirement when I was 55, so currently (until I reach State Retirement Age) my only income is my works pension and the carer’s allowance I get from the Government for caring for my wife, so I pay very little tax, yet all my medical healthcare is free (as it has been for my whole life); and considering I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance earlier this year, and spent three weeks in hospital for treatment, and countless tests using just about every modern equipment imaginable, and since my discharge from hospital being called back every few weeks for day visits (as an outpatient) to monitor my progress as I recover, plus all the related visits to my GP (Doctor) e.g. for blood tests, and all the visits in the home from the District Nurses; I am very grateful it’s all been free (including the medication/prescription), I dreed to think how much it would all have costed if I had to pay for it, even on insurance.
How the UK’s NHS Healthcare System Works: https://youtu.be/sn2QTa903zc
Arthur, i think the $350 from Kyler are not so far off from my insurance payments in G. I pay some 390 Euro per months, though it is a "private all in insurance" with a lot of privileges. The good thing is, it is fully tax deductable. The other good thing is it gives me totally free choice of doctors and treatment.
A typical employed person in Germany pays some 11% of his wage for health insurance. Half of that is payed for by the employer. Wage limited to some 58 kiloeuro per year. Even if you earn more, no higher insurance cost.
Then we pay another 3% (1,5% by employer) for long term care insurance. That covers elderly care and support if you are unable to do things yourself. My parents are both closing in on 100 and they receive combined some 2.500 Euro out of this insurance and pay for remote care, household assistance. The monthly pay for nursing homes is also covered up to certain sum by this long term care insurance.
There is no free lunch and i would assume that similar amounts of money will have to payed in the UK for similar services, only in the UK it coming from your taxes.
In G. also the unemployed, jobless are insured. For them our taxpayers money steps in.
Yep, Chris, in the UK it’s all done through the taxes on your wage.
That part of the tax on wages that covers the cost of the NHS, unemployment benefits and State Pension is called ‘National Insurance’ (NI); that, along with the other tax on your wage, is deducted by your employer from your wage packet before you get paid e.g. what you get in your pocket (bank) is net pay.
In the UK the NI element of the taxes that’s deducted from your wage is as follows:-
1. Nothing paid for the first £9,564 ($13,572) that you earn per year.
2. 12% of your wages from £9,564 ($13,572) to £50,268 ($71,315) per year.
3. 2% on everything your wages that’s over £50,268 ($71,315) year.
According to data from the ONS (Office of National Statistics), in 2020 the average UK salary was £31,461 ($44,621); therefore on that basis the average UK full time worker would pay through their taxes towards the cost of the NHS, benefits and their State Pension the following amount:-
12% on their earnings from £9,564 ($13,572) to £31,461 ($44,621) per year = 12% on £21,897 ($31,054) = £2,627 ($3,725) per year = £219 ($310) per month.
So yes, in the UK, for those in full time employment, and earning the average wage, the amount they pay in taxes towards national health is a similar amount e.g. $310 per month in taxes; but not only does that $310 of taxes paid per month cover National Health, it also provides insurance against you falling on hard times e.g. losing your job and needing unemployment benefit, and it’s contributing towards your State Pension. In the UK, to qualify for the full State Pension you need to have worked for at least 35 years, paying your NI.
The other advantage of paying for Social Care, including the NHS through the taxes is that the system provides for everyone equally, regardless to their wealth or otherwise.
For example, I took early retirement, and therefore am paying little taxes, and I’ve paid no NI tax since my retirement at the age of 55 (having paid my NI tax for 37 years) and yet I still get the full benefit of free universal healthcare at the point of use, and when I reach 66 will also get my full State Pension.
I think the significant distinction between paying health insurance, regardless to your income, as it seems to be in the USA, and paying for health insurance through your taxes so that you contribute according to your income, is that with the latter everyone gets the same level of healthcare regardless to their financial means, which to me seems to be more equitable.
Also, as with Germany, in the UK you choose your doctors, and to some extent your treatment e.g. where I live we’re covered by three doctors practices; and if we’re not satisfied with one we can change to another practice at any time we wish. And when it comes to treatment, the doctors/specialist don’t tell you what they are going to do, they consult with you, and will accommodate your wishes as far as possible, and (unless it’s an emergency) your doctor/consultant will seek your consent before carrying out any treatment.
"I think the significant distinction between paying health insurance, regardless to your income, as it seems to be in the USA, and paying for health insurance through your taxes so that you contribute according to your income, is that with the latter everyone gets the same level of healthcare regardless to their financial means, which to me seems to be more equitable."
This paragraph may serve to show the vast difference between the two cultures (although the US is fast changing to the socialism of Europe). That you consider forcing one person to pay for another's wants is "equitable" is very foreign to the self sufficiency of Americans. It's as if "equity" is achieved by counting what one has without counting what was contributed (worked for) in order to receive it. That the effort to contribute need not be equitable, only what is received.
When the US was formed it was declared that all people were equitable in that they were to received "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness". Then it became "life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, food, shelter and clothing". Then "life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, food, shelter, clothing and a cell phone". Now we are working on "life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, food, shelter, clothing, a cell phone, unlimited health care, free secondary education and high speed broadband internet access".
The net result is that we now are in the position that we have declared that, as we look around at our friends, family and neighbors, we find that every other one of the people around us are unable and incompetent to provide for their basic needs. That over half the population is either mentally or physically unable to support themselves.
What an ugly statement to make!
wilderness, indeed an ugly and sad statement.
Didn´t Abraham Lincoln say something like ".. of the people, by the people, for the people .."?
Where is the "for the people"? Where is solidarity? Do you find it in the constitution? Or is solidarity a private matter, something that government and administration has no part of?
Paying taxes, making a universal healthcare system run is an act of solidarity. The stronger pay more taxes, pay more for insurance and thus contribute to fellow citizens who may not financially be able to fully support themselves. What is wrong with that, especially when it avoids your last sentence?
Yes, with cell phone and broadband internet...
The problem is there is an infinite source of things to declare that all people must have...at the expense of someone else. It shows no sign of ever stopping - instead it seems that the end will only happen when everyone has the same things whether they produced them or not.
This is not "solidarity" and it is not "equity"; it is forced charity by those that, all too often, choose not to participate in society except to hold their hand out for whatever they can force others to give them.
Wilderness: Yeah, the European culture does have a philosophy of the strong caring for the weak, which is alien to Americans; in America it’s generally the reverse e.g. “Every man for himself” and “Survival of the fittest”.
To me (as a European) I find the American concept of “Every person for themselves” a very self-centred and selfish view; which I find tasteless. Whereas, to me as a European, the concept of the strong caring for the weak helps to create a community spirit e.g. “one for all, and all for one”, “safety in numbers”, “united we stand, divided we fall” etc.
So yes, in this respect, the European and American cultures do have opposing views. As regards to how far that support should be given e.g. not just for the basics such as food, water, and shelter and clothing, but also the luxuries such as mobile phones, TV’s and cars: Yeah, in modern society in Europe, luxury items such as mobile phones, TV’s and cars are considered an essential part of modern life, and as such (certainly in the UK) the poverty threshold is set in accordance with that criteria.
I think the ‘Mobility Allowance’ is a good example in that it does benefit a lot of poor people, and less well-off people; albeit, it’s not a perfect example because it’s NOT means tested. In the UK Disabled people can qualify of a disability allowance, called PIP (Personal Independence Payment), three levels, so the more disabled you are the more benefit you get. For those who are disabled enough so that they would struggle without a car can also qualify for the ‘Mobility Allowance’. The advantage of the Mobility Allowance being that you can trade it in for a free ‘new car’ once every three years, complete with free insurance, tax and maintenance. So all you need to run the car is just the cost of petrol.
A couple of our friends, who are on long term benefit, also get the Mobility Allowance; and although my wife has to save up to buy her second hand car and keep it on the road, we don’t envy our friends for having a free new car, we’re pleased for them.
Motability: The leading car scheme for disabled people in the UK: https://youtu.be/9AxfguXeeWU
Again, considering most of the population to be "weak" is abhorrent, at least to me.
Disability, though - if the concept were not so abused it would be good. IMO, the US does not do enough for the truly disabled and far too much for those claiming disability but are capable of supporting themselves at least to some degree. This is a major problem here and is, I think, a reason that it is so difficult for the disabled to get help; because the system is subject to such massive abuse.
Wish I could afford a new car every three years, though - I typically drive mine 100,000 to 150,000 miles before trading it in. I drove my "work" truck for 22 years before replacing it. That's much like the cell phones - I couldn't afford one for years after they became popular, but my taxes paid for one for the "poor".
Yep, wilderness, I and my family are in the same boat as you: We can’t afford a ‘new car’, let alone a new car once every three years; we have to settle for 2nd hand cars. But we don’t begrudge our friends (two of them) who do get new cars once every three years on the Motability Scheme because of their disabilities; we are pleased for them, because if it wasn’t for the scheme they would struggle to run a car on benefits.
The cars we have are two second hand Daihatsu Terios, one for my wife and one for my son; and they love them:-
Off-Road Test Daihatsu Terios: https://youtu.be/XxapRH1b0BU
We may not qualify for Mobility Allowance, or any Welfare Benefits; but we, like all UK citizens (regardless to their wealth) do get plenty of other ‘Social Benefits’, for example in the UK:-
• Healthcare (NHS) is free to all at the point of use.
• Education is free to all up to the age of 19.
• Child benefit is not means tested; so every mother, regardless to how wealthy she is gets child benefit for each child until they reach the age of 18.
• Everyone who works for at least 35 years gets their State Pension.
• Everyone in the UK when they reach State Pension Age get free travel on public transport.
Although, because of my wife’s back condition, which restricts her mobility, she does get PIP (Personal Independence Allowance) e.g. disability allowance; and that’s not means tested.
And because she gets PIP, I then qualify for the carers allowance e.g. the government paying me to look after her. A bonus of receiving the carers allowance, is that as a carer I have free entry to a lot of public events e.g. when we visited the Eden Project in Cornwall my wife only had to pay for herself and our son, and I got in free as my wife’s official carer.
So the European cultural concept of social care does seem to be more liberal and broader in the UK than the USA e.g. not all benefits from European Governments are means tested, so it’s less of a ‘us and them’.
Eden Project: an overview: https://youtu.be/f8unx8-pZxg
It is those like your friends getting a new car that irritate me. You can't afford to do it, but you can pay increased taxes so that they can. I see that to far to great an extent here; what I can't afford I can somehow afford to buy for others. When the non-contributers to society get what I can't, paid for by me, then something is wrong.
I also get quite irritated by those on disability that could be supporting themselves, but choose not to. I know several that are on total disability but either working "under the table" or choosing not to work because it would cost them their disability payments. One woman in particular was working at re-certifying so she could go back to work...until she found out that working would end her disability payments. At the same time I know at least one person, brain damaged from an accident and unable to hold a job (though willing), that worked for years to get even enough to eat on, let alone the rest of life's requirements. Instead his 85 year old parents had to work to support him. This is just wrong on so many fronts.
wilderness, i don´t know, but this has the smell of a jealousy discussion.
It is like someone being entitled to park his car in a handicapped reserved spot and all others have to walk a quarter mile, especially those with their leg broken and casted and not having a handicap permit.
And concerning taxes, certainly a valid question, but me think a lot of other budgets should be addressed first, foremost military before we can talk about this kind of spending.
As you say, a lot wrong on so many fronts. But i prefer a society that does not make 85 year olds pay for their offsprings. To avoid this is what institutionalized social responsibility is about.
Yeah, wilderness, I can sympathise with your viewpoint, but (as a European) it doesn’t bother me, especially as we’re well enough off financially to have a good standard of living ourselves anyway; and to see our friends, who are less well off than us, to live comfortably pleases us.
I note from your comment that Disability Benefits are Means Tested in the USA; whereas in the UK they are NOT. If they were then my wife wouldn’t be able to get her disability benefit (PIP)(Personal Independents Payment), and I would then not qualify for the carers allowance for looking after her. That would put a big dent in our finances because they are quite substantial pay-outs; albeit, without them we would be able to still live quite comfortably on our pensions and savings.
My wife’s PIP (Disability) Allowance that she gets for her back condition is £4,669 ($6,606) per year, and my Carers Allowance that I get from the Government for looking after my wife is £3,525 ($4,987) year. So although we are lower middle class, with assets too high to quality for means tested benefits, our total income from the Government (disability and carers Allowances) is nevertheless £8,194 ($11,593) per year, which is quite respectable. And we only get it because disability benefits in the UK are NOT means tested.
The fact that they have a new car every three years (because they are on Mobility Allowance) and we have to settle for 2nd hand cars doesn’t bother me either in that our cars are reliable and serve their function, so what does it matter.
We’ve worked all our working lives, paying our taxes. We bought our own home (mortgage now paid off), and everything we own we’ve worked for and paid for with our own money; and it’s not as if we’ve had to go short to pay for the benefits of others who are on Welfare Benefit and or Disability benefits etc. e.g. we own our own house, we’ve got the best TV & sound system money can buy, we’ve got top range computers, we can afford three holidays (vacations) a year, and still have ‘savings’ in the bank for a ‘rainy day’; so we’re not wanting for anything. So as far as I’m concerned, if I’ve paid more taxes during my working life so that our friends who are more dependent on the State than us, then ‘well and good’; it’s good to see our friends not having to suffer too hard.
According the ONS (Office of National Statistics) we’re classified as ‘Lower Middle Class’; whereas most of our friends are classified as ‘lower working class’.
When we bought our current home, we had a choice of either buying a house in West Bristol where the middle class live or East Bristol, where the working class live. We opted for East Bristol simply because I would have felt uncomfortable living amongst snobs; whereas I can socialise comfortably with lower working class (unemployed and causal labour workers).
In contrast to us, our friends living on benefit, although two of them get their free new cars every three years because they’re on Mobility Allowance (for their disability), they’re not better off than us, they do have to make hard choice e.g. a choice between either buying a top range TV and not being able to afford a good holiday or having a good holiday and making do with just a cheap TV.
If you didn't have to purchase a new car every three years for your friends perhaps you could buy one for yourself instead. Personally I simply cannot justify this kind of thing.
Much like the sadness that the same friends, living off of the work of other people, must make a choice of a top of the line TV or a great holiday, while most of the people buying those things for them can't afford either one. Again, just can't wrap my brain around the thinking there.
Wilderness, yep I understand your views about the luxury items like the car, TV & holidays etc., I can see that they are concepts alien to the American culture.
As I said, with regards to the car, I just don’t care that we can’t afford a new car; I’m more than happy with 2nd hand cars, especially as I like to use them to buy things like compost from the garden centre, and bags of cement and sand from the builders merchant etc., and doing that to a new car would make me a little nervous that I was going to soil the car! In other words I’m more than happy in a round around anyway. I’m sure if we really wanted a new car we could use our savings, but then that would take a large chunk out of the savings, and leave us less for a rainy day.
With regards to the TV & holidays etc., I may have worded the odd comment poorly?
For clarity, as a wage earner (now retired) we can afford whatever we wants including the best quality TV and three holidays a year; whereas, our friends on benefit (whom I supported through my taxes before my retirement) they do have to make choices e.g. either a top range 52 inch GLED & OLED TV, or settle for just a 42 inch LED TV and treat themselves to just one good holiday.
So although they (those on benefit) do get luxuries to enjoy life, they don’t have as much to spend on luxuries as I do.
Besides, once you’ve got everything you need (roof, food, clothes etc.), and everything you want (car, TV, holidays and mobile phones etc.) then from a European perspective, you’re comfortable, and may as well spend the rest of your life on leisure time rather than working all hours trying to earn money you don’t need!
Actually, on reflection, there is one part of the UK where racial (religious) tension is far greater than in the USA; and that is the ongoing tensions between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland:-
Northern Ireland: The two communities Divided by Peace Walls: https://youtu.be/rdKOKrEAmSI
I followed this discussion for some time now. Please allow me to add an aspect.
All this "we have so many holidays" and we "get these benefits" and so on keeps one question spared: Do yo work for the time period you are employed or do you work to get along for your entire life?
Europe has a long tradition of social welfare, health insurance, pension systems. At least in Germany this goes back to Otto von Bismarck more than 150 years ago. So to answer the question. "Do you work and save for your entire life"?
People in Europe with strong social systems care fairly little about how they get along if they are retired. They may complain that the retirement money is much lower than they earned in their active time, but in general they don´t pay too much attention to retirement.
It is interesting to see that in Europe there is a strong correlation between wealth distribution (or the lack of) and strength of the social system.
Those countries with strong social systems (f.e. Norway, Germany, Scandinavian countries..) have very uneven distribution of wealth. The Gini index for wealth is easily above 70% for those countries. Explanation: If you don´t have to take care for your future, then why pile up wealth? If you don´t have to save your money then you might as well live a hedonist life. And that requires free leasure time, many holidays.
Don´t get the Gini wealth index (78% for G.) confused with the income index (some 30% for G.)
I suppose people in the US face a different situation. Their taking care of the future is a private enterprise. And this reflects on all of our discussion and why sometimes we don´t seem to understand each other from both sides of the pond.
Near total confusion. Your "explanation" for accumulating wealth seems at total odds with what is happening; people are accumulating more wealth even as social programs grow and the need to produce falls. But you seem to be saying the opposite; that wealth is NOT accumulated because there is no need to plan for the future.
May i did not make it clear: Wealth is not distributed evenly. So those with little wealth don´t have to strive for preparing their future. (in G. 50% of the population only own 1,3% of total tangible assets)
The wealthy don´t participate in any of this holidays and sick leave and hire/ fire stuff anyways.
Now that I can understand and do agree with. I would also observe that that very thing is one reason the wealthy wish to grow their wealth; because it will be taken from them to satisfy the wishes of those that spend everything as they go.
It probably isn't the biggest reason (playing the "game" is), but it is certainly high on the list.
An interesting read Chris.
The UK has a wealth GINI coefficient of 73.2%
For the UK, some basic data:-
After the redistributive effect of taxes and benefits
• Bottom 20% of the UK society share of income is 8%.
• Top 20% of society share of the income is 40%
Disposable income is that which you have leftover once you’ve paid all your essential bills (living expenses) e.g. pin money to spend on leisure and luxury items.
• In the UK the bottom 20% of household’s disposable income is £12,798 ($18,125) per year.
• The Average (majority) household’s disposable income is £34,200 ($48,437) per year, and
• The top wealthiest people have a disposable income of £69,126 ($97,903) per year.
• Top 10% of households in the UK hold 44% of the total wealth, of which just the top 0.1% of the population own 9% of the wealth.
• The poorest 50% of household only holds just 9% of the total wealth.
I think there is a difference between income and wealth. While income and paycheck related topics like holidays and sick leave are interesting to compare, the wealth and taking care of your future is handled totally differently in Europe and the US.
An anecdote: Tesla is building a large production site in Germany (east of Berlin). I recently read an article on Tesla´s difficulty to hire expert personel. In the beginning Tesla thought it would be easy to recruit from German automakers as there are plenty. But then Tesla found out that the way of paying and rewarding their staff is different from German standards.
Tesla pays less than German companies in monthly wages but rewards generously with company share bonuses. German companies in return pay higher monthly wages but bonuses and benefits are limited. In total overall pay may be the same. But Germans are not used to being payed with shares. Why should they care about the stock market if solidarity state backed pension funds take care of ther future retirement.
In the US( and maybe in the UK?), I think it can often come down to how we build our careers. There is a lot of gig work all over the world now. I've put a lot of time into forcing flexible hours by relying on gig work, self-employment and part-time hourly jobs that are at least mostly flexible.
I found years ago that I'm adverse to the full time employment model when so many employers seem to want to own you in exchange for a crappy 401k, health insurance, and a couple weeks vacation that you may not even be able to schedule for when you want it.
You forgot to include food on your table, a roof over your head and clothes on your back in with that crappy 401k. Not to speak of the boat in the driveway, the 4 wheeler in the shed and the car in the garage.
Just as you say, though - you don't like the terms of the contract don't sign it. If you insist that you will only work at your convenience rather than filling the businesses needs, get those things some other way.
Who would hire someone that doesn't fill a business need? I just find companies that have compatible needs. And, I'm very good at it. I think that may have been your point? My point is that there are alternative ways of living and thank our relatively free system that these alternatives exist.
"Crappy" 401K may not have been the best choice of words, but, you see, I don't need a boat in the driveway or a four wheeler in the shed.
All businesses in the US do pay money that can be used for food. I have plenty of money for the entertainment our family enjoys and plenty of food (despite giving up on 401ks LOL)...much of which we grow, and raise for ourselves. I feel like this is the American way that has been lost by many in their quest to satisfy their corporate masters for things like those dreamy 401Ks. It ain't me. I'd rather live in a van down by the river for retirement. if it came down to it. Stars and stripes forever. Let freedom ring.
What kind of business insists you work only for their needs anyway? That sounds dangerously close to indentured servitude or some such. Sounds like a lot of fun? The workforce and workplace have changed a lot over the last couple of decades. MANY jobs can now be done from the comfort of our own homes at all hours of the day.
"What kind of business insists you work only for their needs anyway?"
Why do you think they hire help? It isn't for the good of the employee; it is to fulfill the needs of the business. They don't simply give out money on the street corner - they exchange money for work that meets their needs.
I did say that pushing papers around a desk could be done from home. But virtually no production job, no service job, no transportation job, nothing in the entertainment industry, no construction job...the list is nearly endless of jobs that cannot be done from home. It IS true, though, that there are a lot of office jobs out there.
Thankfully, in the US, businesses must consider the needs of their employees or they have no employees.
The list of contract jobs, and small businesses, in all sorts of industries, is nearly endless as well. These jobs generally offer more freedom in scheduling. In fact, I've never heard of a construction job that is not contract. The schedule is up to the contractor as long as the end date is met. Someone can make good money these days being a "handyman" on a part time basis, working when they want to. I'm sure you are aware of this so I'm not honestly sure what point you are attempting to make.
When I left school (many moons ago) I joined the civil service (my first, one and only job). The pay was crap but the working conditions were good, with a high level of job security and a good pension; which all helped to compensate for crap pay e.g. money isn’t everything.
Being in the civil service, as well as the 8 days Bank Holiday (Public Holiday) that everyone gets in the UK, we also had an extra 2.5 days paid ‘Public Holidays’ called ‘Privilege Holidays’; these being an extra day for Christmas (3 days instead of 2), Maundy Thursday Afternoon, and a day off for the Queen’s Birthday. Unofficially, we were also given a half day off just before Christmas for ‘Christmas Shopping’.
Also in the civil service the working week was 37 hours, which is lower than the national average of 42.5 hours.
Flexible Working Hours was introduced into the civil service within a year of me joining, so I was on ‘flexible working hours’ virtually the whole of my working life; and it was great:
• On flexible working hours as long as I worked at least 37 hours a week on average, and I was in the office during core hours I could work what hours I wanted e.g. come in early and go home early, or go to work late and leave late.
• The core hours, where everyone had to be in was between 10:00 & 12:00 in the morning, and between 2pm & 3:30pm in the afternoon. Outside of those core hours you could start as early as 7am and finish as late as 7pm.
• The other benefit of the flexible working hours is that if you put the hours in you could build up time-credit, and take it off as paid leave at a later date. Under the scheme, if we put the hours in to build up the credit time we could take up to 3 days paid flexi leave a month (36 days a year maximum); which is what I tended to do.
On flexi I tended to work long hours to build up the flexi time and then take 3 days paid flexi leave per month; which made my six weeks ‘paid annual leave’ (vacation leave) go a lot further e.g. if I took a week’s paid holiday three days would be flexi leave and two days would be from my annual leave.
So in reality, excluding any sick leave I may take (up to 12 days a year), the amount of paid leave I had each year was:-
• 30 days Annual Leave (Vacation Leave)
• 36 days paid flexi leave, and
• 10.5 days Bank Holidays.
TOTAL = 76.5 days
As the working week is five days the above 76.5 paid days that I had off work each year represents just over 15 weeks paid holiday per year; equivalent to 3.4 months per year when I was either at home or on holiday rather than at work e.g. only in the office for 75% of the year.
I did see in another comment wilderness that due to the lack of money he would struggle to keep occupied with too much time off, and would prefer to be at work!
I didn’t have that problem. My social and domestic time was divided three ways:-
• My hobbies e.g. DIY, Gardening etc.
• Family Home Life, friends and Socialising, and
• Family Holidays.
We always had three holidays a year, two weeks in Southern France, and two separate holidays in the UK; plus lots of day trips.
For Family Life, if nothing else, I always took at least two weeks off for Christmas so that we could all have a good Christmas holiday; and usually another week off for Easter.
And for my hobbies; I’d usually take at least a month off in late August so that I could focus on some major DIY project for the month.
So I never got bored; and even now in my retirement, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done: Apart from the travel restrictions over the past year due to the pandemic, in retirement we’re still having two or three holidays a year, and day trips; and I’m still finding plenty of DIY projects to keep me busy, along with gardening e.g. growing all our own vegetables organically.
As regards Home Working; that began to creep into the civil service during the last 10 years of my service; and for the last years before I retired I took advantage of home working; working from home 3 days a week and going in the office just 2 days a week.
The benefits were obvious, firstly, as long as I got the work done on time and to quality, I could revolve my work around my home life, rather than having to fit my home life around my work; and I was saving on ‘public transport’ costs plus travelling time.
However, all good things come to an end; so having done almost 40 years’ service I decided to take earlier retirement at 55 (on a good pension) and enjoy a relatively stress free retirement while I’m still young enough to enjoy life.
Thanks for sharing. This is exactly what I refer to when I say so many middle class Americans forgot how to live.
"So I never got bored; and even now in my retirement, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done:"
I believe this. There is so much more to life. And one can be VERY hard working while taking time for leisure and not working 40 to 60 hours a week for someone else. For example, we have two separate small businesses. I have gig work and a regular part time job on top of this.
Gardening is part of one of our small businesses. So, we grow food/flowers, and get a bit of cash for them both. I have the flexibility to work on the plumbing should it go out (saving money), and go camping in the state parks on a weekday when they aren't so crowded. I get to see all the kids soccer games and school functions. I read books and write voraciously throughout they year, and continually expand my business and hobby knowledge. I am busy, in some form, from the time I get up. I don't watch the television or play video games at all until darkness falls or maybe in the heart of winter.
My professional life is a constant evaluation of how I spend my time vs how much money I need. I will work more at something I enjoy more, even if I don't need the money so much. That sort of thing. Sometimes I have to work more hours doing something I'd rather not in order to keep that work around for when I need it. However, no one employer is going to determine exactly how I spend my time. Making a living is not just making money.
Yep, my sentiments exactly: As long as you can earn enough to pay the bills and cover a few luxuries, then fife is more important than work. And being able to spend more time with your family and friends (leisure time) all helps towards making for a good Work/Life Balance.
It's refreshing to read your thoughts on this matter. I don't quite understand how this attitude is not more prevalent in the US..."the land of the free." Maybe the anti-workers right propaganda is over-powering here. They call anti-union bills things like "Right to Work." My disposition may not even be compatible with a union (likely depends on the leadership), but I certainly understand their value.
It's good to see you back hard sun. In following your comments about unions and worker's Rights, a counter-point comes to mind.
You infer that Right to Work decisions are simply anti-Union decisions, (I suspect many are just that), but what about the concept of Right to work as simply leaving the issue to the employer and employee? You previously mentioned that employers needed to be attractive to employees—or they wouldn't have any. Isn't that a Right to Work concept? Shouldn't the employer have the same freedom of choice concerning the product, (the job), they are offering?
Why shouldn't an employer have the Right to dismiss an employee for any non-discriminatory reason they want?
I would add that I am not naive about the possible crappy situations that could attend that employer Right and have seen the life-changing effects such an event can have on an employee's life.
Hi GA. and thanks. This is one of the better places to read and participate in political discussions that I've come across.
You raise some good points. It is often difficult to determine what exactly is non-discriminatory, and I don't agree with the way the US law protects certain "classes " more than others. My thinking is if you protect some people for being canned for non-job performance related reasons, why can't we protect all people as we can all be discriminated against in different ways that seem inherently unfair.
This is from Indiana's Right to Work Law: " The Indiana Right-to-Work law provides that no employer, labor organization or any person may require an individual to become or remain a member of a labor organization, or pay dues, fees or assessments (or charitable donation substitutes) as a condition of employment, new or continued."
When looking at this law, I do see your point as far as "right to work." While the effect may be to limit union power, if the union is good enough, then wouldn't everyone want to sign up? What's more, it is illegal in Indiana to be fired for union activity. However, being a mostly otherwise "at will" state, other than discrimination, and whistleblowers, it seems fairly easy for employers to can someone for union activity and state other reasons for the firing.
Should businesses be allowed to fire someone because they don't like a political opinion an employee put on a FB page. If this opinion isn't overtly promoting violence, shouldn't this right to choice be respected as much as say, the right to marry who you wish? Employment law gets really messy for me when I start really parsing it out. Ultimately, if a worker will truly get unemployment for being canned for reasons other than job performance, then I think maybe the employer should be granted that right. However, getting unemployment after being fired is not easy at all in many states. I see unemployment insurance as being as necessary as something like car insurance, but it is abused in all kinds of directions.
"When looking at this law, I do see your point as far as "right to work." While the effect may be to limit union power, if the union is good enough, then wouldn't everyone want to sign up?"
But what is "good enough" for a union? Getting higher wages than non-union workers, at the expense of business owners? Denying the right to fire for bad performance?
I've been in a company when the union tried to organize and after much information exchange decided it was NOT in my best interest; the only thing the union could offer me was an opportunity to support union leaders out of my paycheck. They couldn't offer a pay raise, they couldn't offer me job protection as I was already highly regarded by the business, they couldn't offer me anything I didn't already have...except to pay the union dues that fed the union hierarchy.
A decent company doesn't need a union telling it how to run the business without regard to the P/L bottom line. And a bad company will only disappear faster under union control.
"But what is "good enough" for a union? Getting higher wages than non-union workers, at the expense of business owners? Denying the right to fire for bad performance? "
Exactly. I've no idea..wouldn't that be decided by the individual employee who may, or may not, join that union?
There are many pros and cons to unions. I grew up with a step dad union member and much of the small town were union members. These unions could certainly offer job security, pensions, great healthcare, etc. Of course, these same unions don't offer so much these days as they likely over did it.
I've no doubt that you could legitimately decide that a union is not in your best interest. As I said before, if I were to join a union, I would have to consider many factors. My views on unions are not going to be as simple as all good or all bad.
I've seen companies that desperately needed a union to speak for employees. I've seen companies that went out of business because of impossible demands from unions.
In the past we had a real need for unions to help control poor practices by companies, and in times of high unemployment it still happens some. But the bottom line is that unions cannot exist without people being paid less than union employees are; they require that "sub-class" or there is no reason to exist. We seldom see the wholesale abuses by companies today, and that need has been satisfied by decades of effort by both unions and legislators.
As a result, unions have reconsidered their often draconian demands to virtually run a business themselves and become far more of a partner than an adversary. Everyone benefits when that happens.
Seems like a reasonable assessment.
..."unions cannot exist without people being paid less than union employees are; they require that "sub-class" or there is no reason to exist."
I would just add to the above that maybe unions exist for the betterment of treatment in all ways not just pay. So, if the entire worker package is a better product than the union has a reason to exist.
Yes, it's not just wages. Safety, for instance, although OSHA has taken the place of union demands. Discrimination, although the legal system has done what unions might have done in the past here.
But unions have been instrumental in the past in getting worker "bennies" that we take for granted now. Holidays and vacations, for instance. The problem happens when unions don't stop working for more "pay without work" time.
I find it a little difficult to follow this thread on ‘Unions’, because of the cultural differences between the USA & Europe e.g. don’t have this idea of ‘sub-class’ in Europe; pay and conditions won by Trade Unions apply across the board, regardless to whether individual members are union members or not.
I think the difference is predominantly because:-
• The British Labour Party is the ‘political wing’ of the Trade Unions, and
• A lot of the British Employment Laws are based on EU Legislation; which is heavily influenced by ‘socialist’ policies because of the strong ‘Socialist’ influence on European Politics.
In the 1980’s when Margaret Thatcher (then British Conservative Minister) tried to destroy the Trade Unions in the UK, even to the extent that she closed down the coalmining industry e.g. the Coal Miners’ Union being the strongest union in the UK at the time.
Apart from that one episode in British Politics, these days in the UK the Trade Unions have the respect of both Government and Employers, and play a major role in the ‘balance of power’.
In the UK, It’s partly through union involvement over the decades that Governments have improved working conditions: Most of the working ‘conditions’ in the UK, e.g. minimum of 6 weeks paid vacation, 8 months paid maternity leave, shorter working week, flexible working, employment protection laws, FREE Industrial Tribunals etc. are all laws passed by Governments, so they apply to everyone, regardless to whether they are union members or not.
Notwithstanding that the Labour Party is the political wing of the Trade Unions; one major role Trade Unions play in the UK, regardless to which political party is in power is the TUC (Trades Union Congress). The TUC represents all the Trade Unions in Britain, just as the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) represents all major Private Businesses in Britain.
Both the TUC & CBI lobby governments, and in major national disputes can play a major role in negations with the Government to resolve those disputes.
When I was much younger I took on the role as Branch Secretary in my local union and at one point stood for election as a Union Representative at Section Level (Regional Level) and won; so I got quite involved with union affairs for a while, including organising ‘Industrial Action’ (strikes) and running ‘picket lines’; which was quite pleasing in that union membership in the ‘Post Office’ is strong, so postal vans would not cross any pickle line on principle.
When I got older I let the youngsters take over the roll, because union work was a lot of responsibility and quite taxing at times; but I still supported the union whenever they called for strike action.
Ironically, after a couple of promotions in the civil service I ended up on the management side, negotiating with the unions at the regular monthly Whitley Meetings.
Whitley Councils: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_industrial_council
"Should businesses be allowed to fire someone because they don't like a political opinion an employee put on a FB page. "
I think this aspect of "discrimination" needs a lot of thought. A gut reaction might be that what an employee does in their own time is their business. But, when one considers the reality that an employee is `the face' of the company to the public—from the janitor to the CEO, then in some cases what an employee puts on FB could very well impact the company they work for. Such as a drug rehab company employee that posts about off-the-clock drug parties.
We see this in the news almost daily with the current cancel culture. I think that in most instances an employer shouldn't have any say in what an employee does on their own time, but I also recognize that there are many times when those same non-work actions can impact an employer.
Just for chuckles imagine a Bible salesman that posts about his weekend Satanic worship orgies. Do you think their employer has a case for dismissal?
"...then in some cases what an employee puts on FB could very well impact the company they work for. Such as a drug rehab company employee that posts about off-the-clock drug parties."
Maybe there should be a legal framework for these considerations. If the rehab employee is actively having drug parties, I think the company should have every right to can them, but what if it turns up they had a few parties ten years ago, before they were even employed by the company?
It seems a little like how some companies consider someone who as a felony in the past but they take certain things into consideration. I think most people understand someone who robbed a bank could fairly be "discriminated against" if they attempt to get a job at a bank. However, should this conviction bar someone from a work-from-home chat service representative position?
How much responsibility do/should governments hold when it comes to protecting freedoms of those who have made mistakes, or said things in the past that are not accepted by a good number of people in today's society. Personally, I feel that governments should take on a decent bit of that responsibility in order to protect the minority from the majority. It just gets messy when it comes to things like a crime committed 20 years ago, or something said on social media, and part of the US government has a vested interest in keeping people unemployed and/or in their corrections system.
Yep, it also puzzles me on why American attitudes seem so anti-worker (anti-union) and so pro Employer. Unions (which GA also touches on in his comments above) does seem to be more of a touchy (sensitive) subject in the USA than it is in Europe e.g. a lot of anti-union sentiment.
Although the Tory Party would like you to think otherwise, in the UK Trade Unions have a far greater respectability in Society; and a much greater role in politics than in the USA e.g. the UK Labour Party is the political wing of the Trade Unions.
The Labour Party was formed by the Trade Unions in 1900, and to this day the Trade Unions have a major voting right in formulating the Labour Party Policies, and electing its Leader.
And it’s thanks to the Labour Party landslide victory in the 1945 General Election that we have the NHS (National Health Service); which is the pride and joy of the British People.
Because the founder members of the early Trade Union movement in the UK had to fight hard for workers’ rights (sometime with blood) the Labour Party’s Anthem (The Red Flag) is so meaningful and emotive to its members.
"The Red Flag" - Anthem of The British Labour Party: https://youtu.be/sHoyoKgRq5U
Thanks for the sharing. I am left pondering about small businesses and their employees getting those holidays/vacations. What do those small businesses do when the employee is gone and the work needs to be done by someone? It would seem when gone for those holidays/vacations there must be some kind of job guarantee. So, what happens to the interim employee when the one on leave returns? It would seem someone has to be let go.
Can´t respond from a UK perspective, but i can certainly give examples from Europe. Although i think it will not be so much different UK and EU.
In my active time i worked for or ran businesses from 10 employees up to 800 employees. Some privately owned, some owned by myself, some controlled by a 60.000 employees global player.
All i can say is that with small nuances the work/life balance and work conditions were the same, no matter small business or large. And as i am writing from a German perspective, we have the myriads of "Mittelstand" companies, hidden champions who all can only attract workforce if they offer substantial work-life balance options.
There are enough management options to counteract the problems you addressed. Just one hint: Never have specialists, make people replaceable or create job descriptions in a manner to find replacements easily. Holidays don´t fall from the sky at random. There is always enough head time to do planning.
In Europe it is very difficult to get fired (a lot of legal protection for job keepers). On the other hand there is no problem to refuse hiring someone, because you don´t like the face, because the boss has prejudice of personal kind. There are no discimination issues with hiring or not hiring specific people.
Seems to be the other way around in the US. As far as i understand you can raise hell in the US if you feel dicriminated in your job application. But your boss can get rid of you easily.
This creates totally different work cultures on each side of the Atlantic. Work/Life balance is only one aspect.
"Seems to be the other way around in the US. As far as i understand you can raise hell in the US if you feel dicriminated in your job application. But your boss can get rid of you easily."
You can raise hell if you feel your are discriminated against on an application in the US but nine times out of 10 you get nowhere..especially if you are not in a "protected class".
Your comment is interesting. I like to learn about how things really are in Europe compared to the US. Thank you for that.
Yep, as Chris says, it is very difficult to get fired in the EU and UK (a lot of legal protection for the job keepers). In the UK, the employee gets full legal protection once they’ve worked for the Company for two years.
In practice, it means that if your employee wants to sack you, it has to be for very specific reason specified by law, and the employer has to give you every opportunity to amend your ways e.g. two verbal warnings and a written warning. A lot of British Companies, rather than going down the dismissal route in the first instance, will try to get you any help that you need e.g. counselling for domestic issues, drug issues, drink issues, gambling issues etc., that might be the root-cause of your problem. Often, establishing with someone that they have a problem, and arranging counselling for them to cover that problem can be a simpler route than the hassle of an Industrial Tribunal.
In the UK Industrial Tribunals is a FREE Service offered by (ACAS) Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. ACAS is an independent Government Department e.g. it’s not answerable to the Government, its answerable to Parliament; and ACAS is impartial e.g. an arbitrator between Employer and Employee as a civilised way to resolve disputes.
Mock Employment Tribunal UK - What happens in an employment tribunal?: https://youtu.be/71wxEjFys6g
ACAS: Britain's workplace experts: https://youtu.be/pD7f-gurpg4
Is there a communication difference in "firing" vs "lay off"?
In the US, firing (termination for cause, such as not showing up for work) is not easy and if the employee fights it can be difficult indeed.
On the other hand, an employer may "lay off" a worker for no reason at all (outside of union contracts)...but the worker can then draw unemployment (can't do it if fired for cause), which affects how much the employer pays in the tax for that program.
Yep there is a difference between ‘firing’ & ‘lay-off’ in the UK; although there are some differences between the USA & UK:-
Yep, as you said wilderness, someone who persistently turns up late for work, after verbal warnings and a written warning can be ‘fired’; and as you said, it can be troublesome for the employer if the employee takes their employer to Industrial Tribunal.
As regards ‘lay-off’ (redundancies) in the UK, workers’ rights are heavily protected by law, so there are certain things an employer can and cannot do in laying people off. For example, an employer cannot lay someone off one week and then fill that post with someone else the following week. So quite often, when a Company want to lay staff off (redundancies) there is usually a consultation period with the Unions, and if the Company appears to be flouting the labour laws its decision could end up being challenged in an Industrial Tribunal. But if the Companies reasons for laying staff off is genuine e.g. downsizing, then there’ll probably be very little the Unions can do.
Laying off staff as part of a merger or take-over ‘in itself’ is not valid enough reason e.g. in such situations the employees have some protection under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006). Under TUPE the new employer has a legal obligation to try to accommodate the staff from the old Company, and regardless to the pay and conditions for established employees already working in the new Company; staff transferring from the old Company have a legal right to continue to ‘enjoy’ their old rates of pay and working conditions if such pay and conditions is better.
• In the UK, if you resign, you cannot claim full unemployment benefit for the first three months, unless you can show that you had ‘good reason’ to resign.
• In the UK it doesn’t matter whether you are ‘fired’ or made ‘redundant’, in either event you will still be entitled to unemployment benefit. The only difference is that if you are ‘fired’ you get nothing from your employer other than wages owed; whereas if you are laid off your employer has to pay you the appropriate amount of redundancy money.
There is a difference. I would interprete and translate like this:
Firing: Work contract termination because of personal misbehaviour or performance of the individual.
Lay-off: Company reason, redundancy because of restructuring, reason not associated to personal behaviour or performance.
In both cases the worker is entitled for unemployment benefits. However while "firing" is often subject to legal fights between the employer and employee (the European version of raising hell.) and immediately leads to unemployment benefits, lay-offs are mostly subject to financially attractive settlements between employer and work council (at least in G., we have Rhine capitalism). And if you get financially compensated you don´t get unemployment pay on top. It is not an ultimate paradise.
That used to be the case in the UK, but since 2013 the Conservative Government has changed the law as follows.
Since 2013 the Conservative Government has replaced the old ‘unemployment’ and related benefits with three new benefits:-
• Universal Credit
• Jobseeker’s Allowance, and
• (ESA) Employment and Support Allowance.
So therefore, these days, In the UK, if you are made redundant you may be entitled to any or all of the above three benefits.
The first benefit (Universal Credit) is means tested, which means that if you’re total savings, including any redundancy money exceeds £16,000 ($23,000) then you’ll not get any ‘universal credit.
The Jobseeker’s Allowance and ESA are not means tested, so if you are made redundant, regardless to how much redundancy money you got from your employer, you will be entitled to claiming ‘Jobseeker’s Allowance’ for as long as you are actively seeking work.
The ESA is only payable to those who had to give up work because of disability (ill health).
Isn't the Universal Credit more than a little counter-productive? If a person is financially responsible, setting aside money for that inevitable "rainy day" they receive nothing. If they are NOT responsible, spending everything they take in, someone else must pay for their support when that rainy day comes.
Sounds like a great way to train people not to be responsible for themselves. In a way it reminds me of what the US is doing with it's COVID relief; people out of work now receive unemployment insurance far beyond the time it would have ended, PLUS another $600 each week from federal funds. The result is that some (quite a few on the lower end of the earning spectrum, which was the primary group laid off) get more from unemployment than they ever did from working, meaning they don't WANT to go back to work and businesses are having extreme difficulty finding help as the country opens back up. When we pay people more to sit at home than they can earn the result should have been obvious.
Yep, that’s one of the 'few' gripes I have about the Welfare system in the UK; in that if you’ve worked all your life, putting savings aside for the future and bought your own home, and you then fall onto hard times, then you get little or no Welfare help from the State until you’ve sold your house and lived off your savings.
However, if you’ve been in and out of work all your life, have no savings, and rent a Council House from your local government, and have the rent paid for you by the main government (Housing Benefit), then if you fall on hard times the help is there for you, to ensure you have a roof over your head and that you don’t starve.
My wife and I worked all our lives until our retirement, buying our own home and putting savings aside for the future; so we’ve never been dependant on the State, other than the Disability (PIP) and Carers Allowance that we now get.
While in contrast to us, close friends of ours who also bought their own home when they were first married, were less fortunate: The husband fell ill and had to give up work permanently.
In owning their own home, they couldn’t get any long term State aid until they’d sold their house and lived off of the savings; after which they then qualified for a Council House and Welfare Benefits. Their current situation is that as they are now of retirement age their current Council House and garden is a little too large for them (they want to down-size), so they’ve put in a joint request with the two Local Governments involved (South Gloucestershire, and Bristol) to swap Council properties with their son who has a council flat in Bristol (not far from where we live) e.g. their son is co-habiting with his partner in a Council (Government Owned) Property, and they have a son, so they would be better off in a 3-bedroom house rather than a 2-bedroom flat; hence the request to swap Council (Local Government Social Housing) properties with the grandparents.
We certainly agree there; when hard times come (and they will!) people are required to sell what they have built rather than receive help. Particularly in the case of a temporary problem this is a huge slap in the face to those that have worked hard for years and then have to lower themselves to the plight of those that haven't in order to survive.
Yep, and I don’t think there are any easy solutions; albeit benefits that are not means tested can help to ease the situation a little for some, depending on circumstances.
Most benefits are means tested, so in the UK there’s only half a dozen benefits that are not means tested, and they include the following:-
• The new ‘Jobseeker's Allowance’: Eligible if you are unemployed but actively seeking employment.
• The new ‘Employment and Support Allowance’ (ESA): ESA is only payable to those who had to give up work because of disability (ill health).
• Personal Independence Payment (PIP): Disability Payment
• Mobility Allowance: for people who are more severely and who would struggle if they didn’t have a car. Invariably if you qualify for the Mobility Allowance, you also get PIP. The Mobility Allowance covers the cost for a new car once every three years, including free tax, free insurance and free maintenance. SEE VIDEO BELOW:-
Motability Explained | Mercedes-Benz: https://youtu.be/7poODVh_1yQ
• Attendance Allowance: People of State Pension Age who require assistance or supervision for their care are entitled to get an allowance to enable them to pay for someone to give that assistance.
• Disability Reduction Scheme for Council Tax: Disabled people who own their own property may be eligible to paying less Local Government taxes.
• Child Benefit: Payable to every mother regardless to their wealth, where the mother gets paid x amount by the Government for each child she has; payable from birth until the child reaches the age of 18.
That's probably as good an explanation of the difference as any.
This does not sound reasonable to me. Get a job, fail to perform or intentionally create havoc in the workplace and get paid for it. Quite a racket for a "worker" that does not wish a job.
Or, from the other side, a company in trouble that can no longer support a large workforce, must pay more to reduce the size of that workforce. A huge catch-22 for the business - keep the workers on without having a task for them and go broke doing it, or lay them off and preserve the remaining jobs...and go broke from paying "attractive settlements" to employees the business no longer has a job for.
Most people who are freshly hired face an evalation period of some 6 months plus/minus. Within this period of time a job can be terminated immediately. After that period however you are stuck with the person. So you better make sure you look how this person is performing and behaving.
Typically a lay-off settlement consists of a half month pay for every year working for the company. But that is negotiable.
For example my son in law got layed off recently. He received a compensation of 105% monthly pay for every full year in the company. And he was in the company more than 20 years. In addition he got full pay for 1 year after leaving the company, having to do intermediate work and training in a legal structure called "Transfergesellschaft". This structure is funded 50% by the company and 50% by tax payer money. Did i forget something? Yes - he and my daughter have 3 kids (my grandchildren), the kids get him another 3 months of compensation pay. All quite unbelievable but not uncommon.
wilderness, you are certainly right. This is not reasonable, but it is happening. The company my son in law worked for was undercapitalized for a longer period of time already. They got fresh money for restructuring from the owner, a global player.
Here there is another way around that 6 months thing - my wife worked for a large company at one time (Micron, making computer chips). She had to start through a temp agency, technically working for the agency rather than Micron. It took about a year as I recall to be hired by Micron as a permanent employee - prior to that they would simply call the temp agency and tell them not to send so-and-so back if they didn't like the work being done.
When the company had a massive layoff (thousands of employees) she got a decent severance package, and I understand that is a requirement for large layoffs here. She also got free job training for another field, again required (I think). But for single employees, or even a large hand full, there is nothing like that. I believe the theory is that a large layoff will cause considerable harm to the entire community and the company is thus forced to help out.
I've always been of the opinion that what is good for one is only fair to give the other. The employee can leave at will, and the company can lay off (not fire for cause) at will. I have never heard of a business (in the free world) where any employee is forced to work, unless they have contracted to do so. Given that, the employer is free to end their participation as well. IMO.
What Christ describes for Germany is not dissimilar to the UK; the only real difference is that the 6 months ‘evaluation period’ in Germany is ‘Two Years’ in the UK (was one year until 2012), and in the UK is called the ‘Qualifying Period’. During the two year ‘qualifying period’ your employer can get rid of you relatively easily, but once the two years are up, your employer is more or less stuck with you for the duration.
In years past people would strive for a "career" in the US - a lifetime, or at least decades, at one employer.
This is gone; there is no more expectation of a lifetime employment from either the employer or the employee, and I think it has hurt, not helped. Either one ditches the other whenever a better opportunity comes along- there is no long term continuity.
It sounds like you are on the same path with the two year qualifying period; hire someone for 23 months and get rid of them for someone else you can lay off at will.
That was the fears originally expressed at the time by some when the Conservatives extended the qualifying period; but surprisingly employers in the UK don’t use it in that way. Generally speaking British employers tend to keep the staff they recruit e.g. staff become more experienced and more competent with time, and become expertise in the Company’s ethics (ethos)/practices etc., and therefore more valuable members of the team.
How long a qualification or evaluation period may be, there is a method to skip this without legal hassle (at least in G.):
Over here a company can simply lease personal. The worker is employed by another company whose sole purpose is to let personal to other companies.
This lease thing has advantages for both sides of the aisle.
The employer can hire someone on lease without binding commitments and can find out about the quality.
The employee (especially the younger) has the chance to work in different companies and gather experience.
I used to recommend to my students that they go to one of those lease companies first and get slightly less pay but gain multiple experience in different companies.
Imho this "working in one place for a lifetime" puts blinkers on and imposes a tunnel view.
And after leasing someone for a certain period of time, companies know the people and can hire them to secure their knowledge and capabilities.
Yes, same kind of thing. And yes, there are pros and cons for both sides...if the employee is happy taking a lower wage, not having a dependable source of income, and changing their workplace and workmates as the leasing company dictates.
It seems to be slightly different in the UK!
Most of what you and wilderness say about Germany and the USA is the same for the UK, albeit any differences with the UK are covered below.
In the UK the leasing Companies are called ‘Temp Agencies’;
For clarity, in the UK:-
• When the leasing Company (Temp Agency) hires out your services you are employed and paid by the Temp Agency, not the Company you’re working for.
• When working for a Temp Agency you are called ‘Agency Staff’.
• Generally speaking, in the UK, Agency Staff often get paid more than permanent staff; but
• Under British Law, even if Agency Staff do initially get paid less than the permanent staff, after 12 weeks working for the same employer the Agency Staff then qualifies for the same rights (including pay, pension and paid annual leave) as someone employed directly; this is known under the law as ‘equal treatment’. Under British Law, even if you have maternity or paternity leave during the 12 weeks qualifying period, that paid leave counts towards the 12 weeks qualify period for 'equal treatment'.
The NHS has a similar scheme, known as ‘Bank’ (a ‘bank’ of highly-skilled flexible workers who want to work for the NHS). The Bank’s popularity with the NHS is that it saves on the extortionate fees that ‘Temp Agencies' charge; albeit Banks staff still gets paid more than permanent staff.
Currently the NHS Bank has 120,000 registered members, who last year proved the NHS with 25 million in bank hours. Often, NHS staff who don’t want to work full time (for whatever reason e.g. family commitments) will register with the ‘Bank’ system so that they can earn a little extra cash (pin money) from time to time e.g. if the ‘Bank’ offers you work you don’t have to take it, you can pick and choose when to work for the Bank, so you’re not committing yourself to anything if you register with the Bank for the odd occasional temporary work in the NHS.
When my wife decided to change her job from full time to part time working in the NHS (Admin), she was tempted to join the BANK.
The Bank Network - NHS Professionals: https://youtu.be/FHj2ICGA9SM
I think something like a tribunal would have been helpful for me at one point. A company convinced me to leave a job of over five years for a "better opportunity." I worked my tail off for 30 days only to have my immediate boss and me have incompatible working styles...not from lack of trying on my side. I was canned without warning and was deemed ineligible for unemployment. It was 100% unfair --the employer made NO effort to solve the issue and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, but pick up and move on.
Yes, I'm sure a Tribunal would have been helpful. If you were in the UK under those circumstances, and you 'resigned' because the situation had become intolerable; then you would have had a strong case for claiming 'Constructive Dismissal' in an Industrial Tribunal.
Thanks for the link again. Yes, constructive dismissal should have applied perhaps even by US standards. However, so "should have" the state's own standard unemployment law where employers are supposed to be required to show that a worker showed willful disregard/disrespect for the job or other "good cause." The issue here in Indiana, is that the decision makers don't often side with the worker no matter what when that worker is fired. They don't follow their own laws at all. I did get unemployment one time in this state for a couple months over 20 years ago. That was when the office I was working in shut down. Employment law, and how it is applies, varies widely from state to state. In some ways I like the less restrictive employment laws here. Less restrictions on employers can work out better for "gig" workers.
Yep, the ‘gig’ economy in the UK has fallen fowl of British Employment laws, specifically because earlier this year (following an Industrial Tribunal ruling against Uber, followed by 5 years of legal battle through the appeal courts) the English Supreme Court ruled that ‘Uber’ drivers are employees entitled to paid vacation and minimum legal pay etc., just like any other British employer; whereas Uber had been arguing (unsuccessfully in the courts) that their drivers are self-employed and not employees.
Uber loses Supreme Court battle on drivers' rights: https://youtu.be/DwNdT5QwJvA
Ah..yeah, California is currently having a similar battle with Uber/Lyft. The initial ruling is they will have to be employees there as well, though the industry is appealing the decision. https://www.npr.org/2020/10/22/92691692 … ourt-rules
A little starter on differences - not necessarily work/life balance related.
I noticed in the US that most offices have cubicles in the center of a building. Meeting rooms and management are located around.
In Germany it is always the other way around. Meeting rooms are in the center of the office building, workplaces, offices must have windows to look outside (to see if it is raining or sunny or whatever ..) That is not necessary for temperary workplaces, so typically meeting rooms, restrooms are located in the center, they don´t require connection to daylight.
Obviously, there is not much difference in cost of designing and building an office or workshop in Germany or in the US. The difference is that companies have to take care of the health of their employees. Apparantly it makes a difference if you never see the daylight at work or if you can switch off artificial light because of windows.
The mentality of a G. company management: Once you have hired someone and he/she is satisfying your demands, then contribute to his/her wellbeing. That only lowers sick leave, make people more concentrated on the job. And that in return raises productivity. You get more done in less time - Oh - we are back with work/life balance...
This thing about difficulty in firing someone: If you know your are stuck together, you might as well make the best of the situation. Teach, educate, make life easier for both sides of the aisle. Actually this is what Arthur expressed in a previous comment.
You raise an interesting point; one I hadn’t thought about before. But thinking about it, in the UK, anywhere where people spend time, including offices and meeting rooms, has to have a certain level of natural light. So in the UK rooms that don’t have windows will only be used as store rooms and servers (computer) rooms etc.
And in respect to work/life balance, to be able to sit near a window, and optionally open it for fresh air, does certainly help to improve the sense of ‘well-being’, which in return improves ‘productivity’.
Your assessment of American offices is correct as far as I know but all my office jobs have been work from home for the past 15 years. I worked in offices for maybe 10 years previous to that and never had a desk at a window, except as a university grad assistant.
There has been a recent movement here in the US toward a "deskless" office environment where workers don't have an assigned desk, but kind of come in and choose a spot at a table, or even a couch. It is more of an open floor design. My understanding is it's being used mainly in bigger cities and is huge in the tech industry. Of course, this coincides with providing workers with laptop computers, which means they can be working 24/7 if they have to.
American companies do have to consider worker demands, more so when the economy is good, as we do have the option to leave and take another job. However, I get the feeling worker demands are not given into as much as they are in many parts of Europe as there is this sentiment that "if you don't like it find another job." Of course, a more highly skilled worker, or a worker in a field that cannot keep employees for whatever reason, can demand more.
You can get fired for absolutely no reason in many US states, including the one in which I live. Unemployment laws vary by state. In some states it is very difficult to get unemployment when you are fired. I'm not sure where all the pandemic extra $600 federal unemployment is going in these states.
Yep, it’s very much the same for the UK, as Chris describes for the EU. As Chris indicated, people plan their holidays in advance, giving their employer sufficient time to make provision. Sometimes the work can just wait until the person gets back from leave, sometimes other work colleagues will pitch in and share the work out; and ‘Temp’ work is very popular e.g. housewife with kids willing to work for the odd week or two to earn a bit of pin money (holiday money), provided the hours can be fitted around the school time.
In the UK a number of Employment Agencies specialise in Temp Work, where people with skills, who don’t want to work full time, but want to work just occasionally for a bit of pin money can register. Then Companies looking for someone to do Admin work temporarily for a couple of weeks to cover holidays, or for months if it’s to cover maternity leave, can hire the temporary staff for the duration; at a premium price e.g. Temp Workers generally get paid a lot more than permanent staff.
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Here in the United States one is lucky to ever get 4 weeks vacation and that is after many years of service for the same company.
Most get a week if they are lucky.
The norm is 2 weeks after so many years and then it continues to grow after that but it takes quite awhile.
Thanks for your input Brenda, I can’t imagine what it would be like with such little vacation; all my working life I had sufficient paid vacation time to be able to look forward to regular ‘long breaks’ from work e.g. a couple of weeks off at Christmas, another week off for Easter, up to three long holidays throughout the summer months, and then a few weeks off in the autumn for doing MY DIY.
If I had to make do with just even 4 weeks’ vacation per year I couldn’t have done half the things I’ve done; and I find it hard to imagine what it would have been like.
I guess that if I hadn’t experienced the freedom of lots of holiday time (Vacation time) that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in Britain, then I wouldn’t have known any difference; and then not having so much vacation time wouldn’t seem so bad?
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