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Where Are The Best Social Benefits In Europe? It Certainly Isn’t Britain.

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated 20 Apr 2021
|4 min read

How important is sick pay, unemployment benefits or annual leave entitlements to you? Social benefits for people in the workplace in Europe are generally far more generous than in the U.S. Yet even within Europe, benefits vary dramatically. For the very first time, Glassdoor has pulled together social benefits data from 14 key European neighbouring economies, to establish which countries in Europe offer what provisions for people and which are most generous.

It is bad news for Britain, though. Unfortunately, the UK is in the bottom four overall taking into account factors such as maternity and paternity leave, general parental leave, paid holiday allowance, paid sick leave and unemployment benefits. Only the Swiss, the Irish and the Americans have a more frugal government policy.

The report, conducted in cooperation with Llewellyn Consulting titled “Which Countries in Europe Offer Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits”, reveal that the countries offering the most generous workplace and welfare benefits overall are Denmark, France and Spain, with Denmark and Belgium in particular offering the best unemployment benefits (pay and eligibility period).

‘Best’ Country To Be Out Of Work

It’s never good to be out of work, but Denmark is the ‘best’ place in Europe to be unemployed with residents receiving 90 percent of previous earnings granted for up to 104 weeks. The UK, by contrast, offers a flat rate of €66 or €84 per week, for up to 26 weeks.

Ireland too is one of the least generous, providing a flat-rate of €188 per week for between 22 and 33 weeks, depending on contributions. As a benchmark, the U.S. offers between 40 percent and 50 percent of earnings for up to 2 6 weeks, depending on the individual state.

Sick Pay Won’t Go Far In Britain

UK is again at the bottom of this list in terms of sick pay – the allowance in the UK is 28 weeks, paid at a flat rate of around £88 per week. Paid sick leave is most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to 104 weeks and receive 70 percent of their salary for the whole period!

New Mothers Get Lots Of Time Off In The UK

The most generous amount of leave by some considerable margin is here in the UK with Ireland a close second at 52 and 42 weeks respectively. In terms of pay however, in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain mothers get 100 percent of previous earnings for the entire period. In the UK, 39 of the 52 weeks are paid, the first six weeks at 90 percent of earnings, and the remainder at up to £140-odd per week.

British Fathers Only Get Ten Days Off

This policy is not regulated by the EU, so entitlements vary. However new fathers in Finland receive a massive 45 working days off, leading the pack by some considerable margin. UK dads get just 10 working days off.

Paid Annual Leave

Sweden, France and Denmark all offer 25 working days a year as minimum –the highest entitlement. The UK is bunched towards the bottom again with the likes of Italy, Greece, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland - all offering the minimum 20 days. Spain is a great place for public holidays with 14 offered to those based there, whereas the UK and the Netherlands each provide eight days as standard.

See the full Glassdoor Research ReportWhich Countries in Europe Offer the Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment?” including analysis in full of unemployment benefits, paid leave, sick pay, maternity and paternity schemes. This report is based on OECD data and looks at country-wide benefits. Please note, various states, provinces and municipalities may offer more generous benefits than those indicated.

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