Advantages of Working in the USA and Europe: Universal Healthcare System, Vacations, Etc

For many of us, money is the reason we work. We live the mentality: the more we work, the more we are paid. However, many people are oblivious to the fact that more work can lead to stress and a lower quality of life. There are several ways in which the work ideals in the United States and Europe differ. The United States is the most overworked industrialized nation in the world and its citizens are known to experience a higher percentage of stress-related illnesses due to working longer hours.

In Europe, many of its citizens can enjoy paid parental leave and paid vacation time off, whereas in the U.S. neither is guaranteed nor offered to its employees. The United States treats employee needs like advantages rather than basic necessities such as paid time off for sick days or even personal leisure.

A fair percentage of paid time off out of the 365 days a year for paternity leave and vacation should be a right rather than a privilege in the United States. It is important for those who need to take care of sick loved ones or even those who need some time off to recuperate from stress caused by their jobs. Another luxury Europeans have that the United States does not is a universal healthcare system in which is funded through employment and provides quality medical services to all of its citizens. With that being said, Americans are overworked and receive little benefits in comparison to European countries.

It is clear that America is in no competition with other countries when it comes to taking care of its hard-working employees. While Americans are accustomed to 10-14 days of paid vacation annually, Europeans are given about 30 days of paid time off by employers. In a shocking survey, it was estimated that out of the few people who received paid vacation time, only half of it was actually taken advantage of (Glassdoor.com). Those who chose not to take advantage of their paid vacation time did so because of the loyalty they had towards their employers and the fear of losing their jobs. As it is, Americans work an abundant amount of hours in comparison to European workers. Refusing to take up vacation time due to fear of unemployment can result in stress and a lower quality of life because of the lack of leisure one has.

The American work reality includes a tremendous amount of pressure on its workforce. Very few Americans receive the benefits they’re deserving of. The United States is also one of the very few countries that do not offer paid maternity leave. In a chart, it was recorded that out of the 38 countries surveyed, the U.S. ranked the lowest in paid time off for new parents and in the article written by Brigid Schulte, she quotes Barack Obama (at the time of his presidency) who says, “‘Family leave. Child care. Flexibility. These aren’t frills – they’re basic needs. They shouldn’t be bonuses – they should be the bottom line.’”(Schulte).

Parents and caregivers should be entitled to paid time off to care for and nurture their children without any restrictions. Aside from the importance of caregiving, receiving time off to spend time with family should just as well be a basic right. This is what the U.S. fails to provide its hard working citizens who are far less benefited than other countries such as in Europe. Leisure is not the only luxury European countries have to offer its employees. Along with an abundant amount of paid time off, European citizens have the benefit of a universal healthcare system funded through employment in which covers the basic needs of the people.

In the United States, not very many citizens have access to free health care at all. In a study, it was found that healthcare was ranked the top benefit among 4 other employee benefits which included: vacation/paid time off, higher pay, paid sick days, and a retirement plan (Dishman). A universal healthcare system funded through employment is important and a basic need that every American should have access to. Not only does a universal healthcare system protect and improve one’s health, but it also ensures that those who cannot afford to seek health care, are covered by the government no matter what their financial situation is.

In contrast to the free health care coverage in Europe, the United States treats healthcare like a privilege rather than a right. According to a website pertaining to the surprising number of U.S. citizens who remain uninsured by the governments health care system, “33.3 percent of people who work in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and construction in 2011 were uninsured, which was even worse than people employed in the service industry—23.4 percent of them were uninsured. Among those in wholesale and retail trade, 19.5 percent were uninsured, and 15.7 percent of those in manufacturing lacked insurance” (Norman).

Far too many hard-working citizens are left to pay for the necessities referred to as benefits that other countries are so easily granted. Work philosophies vary from country to country. It’s no surprise that the United States is in no competition with other countries when it comes to work-related employee benefits. The European work-life balance is working lifestyle is like a walk in the park compared to the United States.

In Europe, workers are given a fair amount of working hours along with many benefits which include vacation/paid time off, paid maternity/paternity leave and a universal healthcare system funded through employment. All of which should be treated as basic rights rather than so-called privileges. In the United States, neither is granted nor guaranteed. Many Americans often leave their vacation time unused due to fear of losing their jobs. And the vast majority of Americans do not have the luxury of paid time off. Very few U.S. citizens are offered and have access to free healthcare. It’s fair to say that the work-life balance in Europe is a lot more generous compared to the United States.

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