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UK firms less generous with employee benefits

HR expert

Businesses in the UK are spending less on employee benefits than other firms across Europe, new research has found.

A pan-European study undertaken by Glassdoor revealed that UK firms are more frugal when it comes to sick pay, maternity leave, unemployment benefits and annual leave. The report, entitled ‘Which countries in Europe offer fairest paid leave and unemployment benefits?’, showed that the UK offered a flat rate of around £88 a week in sick pay for workers, in contrast to the Netherlands where employees can be absent for up to 104 weeks and receive 70 per cent of their wages for the whole period. German employers were also found to have offered generous entitlements where workers can be absent for 78 weeks and receive 100 per cent of their wages for the first six weeks.

It was also revealed that although Britain was fairly generous with maternity leave in terms of the amount of time new mums can take off, it lagged behind when it came to pay. For example, across the EU the statutory minimum for maternity leave was 14 weeks. In England, Scotland and Wales, new mums are allowed up to 52 weeks of leave, although in Ireland it is 42 weeks. However, just 39 of 52 weeks are paid with only the first six weeks at 90 per cent of earnings followed by £140 per week for the remaining period. On the other hand, the most generous pay during maternity leave was found in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, where new mums receive 100 per cent of their earnings for the entire period. Ireland was the least generous country and offered just 26 out of 42 weeks paid at a flat rate of €230 (£178.13) per week.

Speaking about the study, Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist, said: “No governments have limitless budgets, but the general perception has always been that the UK provides 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. 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.” New dads are offered ten weeks paternity leave in the UK. In Finland however, dads are offered 45 weeks off, whereas Spanish employers allow workers to take 15 days off and in France it is 11. German, Irish and Swiss employers were even less generous however and offered no time off at all.

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