A new study from Glassdoor® Economic Research suggests that Britain has one of the most frugal benefits systems in Europe. In a ranking of 14 European countries, Britain comes in the bottom three taking into account factors such as unemployment benefit, maternity and paternity entitlements, annual leave and sick pay. Only Switzerland and Ireland come out worse.
The report, titled “Which Countries in Europe Offer Fairest Paid Leave and Unemployment Benefits?”, conducted in cooperation with Llewellyn Consulting, suggests that when ranked in order, the countries offering the most generous workplace and welfare benefits overall are Denmark, France and Spain. When just looking at those countries offering the most unemployment benefits (pay and eligibility period), Denmark and Belgium offer the most and the UK and Ireland offer the least. The study presents an analysis of six key social indicators, including: unemployment benefits, maternity entitlements, annual leave, sick pay, paternity and parental entitlements. For benchmarking purposes, the study also presents how these European markets track against the United States, which almost universally offers benefits well below even the lowest of EU benefits.
Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain 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.
“Social policy across Europe is generally far more generous than in the U.S. There is, however, considerable variation across the region. Providing workplace entitlements is a complex responsibility for governments. Striking the right balance is never easy.”
‘Best’ Country to be Unemployed
Financially, Denmark is officially the ‘best’ place in Europe to be unemployed offering 90 percent of previous earnings, for anything up to 104 weeks (two years). Belgium and the Netherlands also offer highly attractive packages, both of which decrease over time. The UK offers the lowest unemployment benefit of between €66 or €84 per week, depending on age, for up to 26 weeks. Ireland provides a flat rate of €188 per week between 22-33 weeks.
Where Not to Get Sick
The UK offers low benefits in terms of sick pay, but this pay varies enormously between other countries. Paid sick leave is most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to 104 weeks and receive 70 percent of their salary for the whole period. This is followed closely by Germany where workers can be absent for 78 weeks but receive 100 percent of earnings in the first six weeks. UK workers get paid a flat rate of around £88 a week. In Switzerland, sick workers must be paid at least three weeks, and in Ireland it varies depending on terms of contract.
Best Country to be a Mother
Every EU country offers at least the statutory minimum of 14 weeks. The most generous amount of leave by some considerable margin is here in the UK with Ireland a close second at 52 and 42 weeks, respectively. In terms of pay however, in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, new mothers get 100 percent of previous earnings for the entire period. The country offering the least pay is Ireland with only 26 out of 42 weeks paid at a flat rate of €230 per week. In the UK, 39 of 52 weeks are paid with only the first six weeks at 90 percent of earnings followed by £140 per week for the remaining period.
Best Country to be a Father
This policy is not regulated by the EU, so entitlements vary. However new fathers in Finland receive a sizeable 45 working days off, leading the pack by some considerable margin followed by Spain (15) and France (11). The Germans, Irish and Swiss offer nothing to new Dads, and UK fathers get only ten days off. Norway offers ten days, but they are unpaid.
Best for Annual Leave
If you value your holiday time and work-life balance then Sweden, France and Denmark all offer 25 working days a year as minimum. The UK is bunched toward the bottom again with the likes of Italy, Greece, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland – all offering the minimum 20 days. Spain is a great place for public holidays with 14 offered to those based there, whereas the UK and the Netherlands each provide eight days as standard.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
- Energy4 weeks ago
3 of the Biggest Areas of Growth for Renewable Energies
- Features3 weeks ago
Pelicans, Eagles & Cormorants: The Wonderful Water Birds of Lake Winnipeg
- Environment4 weeks ago
How Can Property Developers Help to Create Sustainable Communities?
- Spend2 weeks ago
7 Ways to Save on Your Energy Bill This Fall