Thursday, November 19, 2009

Survey shows U.S. behind in sick pay, benefits

The United States lags far behind other nations in offering paid sick days, paid parental leave and other workplace benefits that proponents consider vital to public health and workers rights, according to research released on Tuesday.

The eight-year study found the most economically competitive nations offer forms of paid leave to workers that the United States does not, according to researchers at Harvard University and Canada's McGill University.

Of the world's 15 most competitive nations, 14 mandate paid sick leave, 13 guarantee paid maternal leave and 12 provide paid paternal leave by law, they said. Eleven provide paid leave to care for children's health and eight provide paid leave for adult family care.

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The United States legally guarantees none of these policies to workers, the authors note. The findings are published in a new book, "Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth that We Can't Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone."

"What we found is that none of these policies in any way impede being highly competitive or having low unemployment," she said.

The 15 nations are Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the United States, all of which have been ranked most competitive over the last decade by the World Economic Forum, she said.

Also, 177 nations guarantee paid leave for new mothers, 74 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers and 157 nations guarantee workers a day of rest each week, they said.

The United States has none of these, they said.

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