Some people in America believe the employee and employer relationship could be better. According to RT.com the US’s top CEO’s makes 330 times that of an average employee. There’s no laws in America requiring that an employer provide an employee with paid sick days. A large number of people work more than 40 hours a week; 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females. According to 20somethingfinance.com “Using data by the U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950.” This is despite the fact that pay hasn’t gone up relative to inflation during that time and the ILO (International Labor Organization) states that, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
According to Reuters.com, in Denmark “an agreement between our union and the company guarantees that workers older than 18 are paid at least $21 an hour. Employees younger than 18 make at least $15 — meaning teenagers working at McDonald’s in Denmark make more than two times what many adults in America earn working at the Golden Arches.” This is a vast difference in pay compared to an average Chicago McDonald’s employee. When discussing a female worker, Reuters.com notes “after working four years at McDonald’s, she makes $8.98 an hour and has no stable work schedule.” The cost of living in Denmark is slightly higher, however McDonald’s employees still get paid significantly higher there than they would in the US. That $21 an hour would equate to around $16.50 here in the US.
Countries like France have made changes as well to make the worker more comfortable and hopefully more productive. According to TheGuardian.com, “A new labour agreement in France means that employees must ignore their bosses’ work emails once they are out of the office and relaxing at home – even on their smartphones.” It is actually law that French citizens don’t work more that 35 hours a week and don’t have to answer their phones or emails after or before they’re at work.
Gothenburg Sweden is experimenting with 6 hour work days this summer with the same pay as if workers were putting in 8 hours. Netherlands also has shorter work weeks than the US; theirs is 29 hours with the average annual pay being $47,000. According to Cnn.com, “About 86% of employed mothers worked 34 hours or less each week last year, according to Dutch government statistics. Among fathers, about 12% also worked a shortened work week.”
In Germany the average work week is 35 hours a week and the average pay is $40,000 a year. According to TheNation.com, “In Germany, union representatives also sit on the powerful supervisory board that makes Volkswagen’s major decisions (a practice unheard of in US boardrooms).” The Canadian providence of Quebec also has fair working conditions relative to other Canadian Provinces. According to www4.Hrsdc.gc.ca “workers of Quebec spent the least time in the workplace in 2012 with an average work week of 35.4 hours.”
The big question is whether or not reduced work weeks and more comfortable working conditions improve or at least keep current production levels. Feel free to share your thoughts on this.