Employment rights around the world – how does the UK compare?
The BBC has produced an interactive map entitled ‘Mapping Children’s Chances’ which compares countries around the world on key measurables that contribute to a child’s health, wellbeing and opportunities. The map uses data compiled by http://childrenschances.org/.
The map includes statistics on such fundamental issues as access to safe drinking water and whether the country in question has a law requiring the use of seat belts, but it’s the analysis of family-friendly employment rights and protection from discrimination that has produced some of the most surprising results. It’s particularly interesting to see that the UK is a pioneer in certain areas but lagging behind in others.
Some of the highlights revealed by the map are:
- The majority of countries in Europe, including the UK, provide at least 26 weeks’ paid maternity leave. In contrast, the US is one of only a handful of countries where there is no statutory right to maternity pay whatsoever.
- The UK is one of the minority of countries that do not provide mothers with guaranteed breastfeeding breaks at work. On this measure the US is actually in the most generous category of countries, guaranteeing breaks until the child is at least a year old.
- The UK is one of very few countries with specific laws protecting against race discrimination at work.
Above all, the map demonstrates the wide variability across the world in levels of employee protection, particularly in the arena of family-friendly rights. Many countries with generous protections in some areas have far more limited rights in others, making it far harder to definitively label a country as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for workers with children. It’s not quite as clear cut as we might think, so do have a look at the map and prepare for a few surprises!
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