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.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!