The UK has one of the most frugal benefits systems in Europe, according to a study from Glassdoor Economic Research.
In a ranking of 14 European countries it came third from the bottom when taking into account factors such as unemployment benefits, maternity and paternity entitlements, annual leave, and sick pay. Only Switzerland and Ireland ranked lower.
The Which Countries in Europe Offer Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits? report, conducted in co-operation with Llewellyn Consulting, revealed that the countries offering the most generous workplace and welfare benefits overall are Denmark, France and Spain.
When it comes to maternity leave the UK offered the most generous amount of leave; 39 out of the 52 weeks are paid, with the first six weeks at 90% of earnings and then £140 per week thereafter. However, when it comes to pay new mothers get 100% of their pre-pregnancy earnings for the entire period of maternity leave in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, despite getting far fewer weeks off.
The UK was ranked low on annual leave. Italy, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland all offer a minimum of 20 days; Sweden, France and Denmark 25; and Spain has 14 public holidays compared with the UK’s eight.
Financially Denmark is officially the ‘best’ place in Europe to be unemployed, offering 90% of previous earnings for up to two years. The UK provides the lowest unemployment benefit, of between €66 or €84 per week (depending on age) for up to 26 weeks.
Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlain said that this picture contradicts the widespread public perception that the UK has a “generous benefit scheme” for all.
“We now have evidence to suggest that Britain is no longer an easy ride, especially when compared to its European neighbours,” he said. “Denmark, France and Spain offer far better social benefits that support local workforces. For the UK it could be argued that parental leave, sick pay and unemployment benefits are particularly meagre.
"Social policy across Europe is generally far more generous than in the US. There is, however, considerable variation across the region. Providing workplace entitlements is a complex responsibility for governments. Striking the right balance is never easy.”