Why the US Has Been Ranked as One of the Worst Countries for Workers’ Rights

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The United States of America is the world’s largest economy and contributes about 24% to the world’s GDP. With a population of 330 million people, the US is also home to a large number of foreign talent and migrant workers who come to this ‘land of opportunities in search of better jobs and lives for themselves and their families. That being said, it is ranked one of the worst countries for workers’ rights.

As of February 2020, the American labor force consisted of 165 million people over 16 years of age, considered able to participate in the country’s workforce.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 46.8% of the US workforce. Looking at the racial breakdown in the US workforce, it can be seen that white Americans make up 78% of the workforce, Hispanics are at 17.6%, African Americans make up 12.1%, and Asians are at 6.4%.

The United States is home to many of the world’s leading companies, research institutes, universities, all with world-class facilities. It is the most populous and diverse developed country in the world. Every year, more than 1 million new immigrants enter the U.S. in search of a better life. But despite its progressiveness and growth, the country has been ranked one of the worst amongst its peers for workers’ rights.

According to a survey of labor unions, it was found that amongst all the developed nations in the world, the U.S.was the worst when it came to workers’ rights. In a Bloomberg report, it was stated that the U.S. had been placed in the ‘4th category’, which means that there is a systematic violation of rights.

Why has the US ranked as one of the worst countries for workers’ rights?

Paid Vacations

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee paid vacations to its workforce. In comparison, European workers are legally mandated to get 20 paid vacation days, and some even get 30 days off from work to enjoy their paid holidays with family and friends.

Universal Healthcare

As reported by The Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. is the only major economy and advanced country in the world that does not have a universal healthcare system in place for its citizens and workforce. Because of this lack of uniformity and access, the average American spends twice as much on healthcare as compared to their counterparts in other developed countries. Apart from this, the U.S. also has the highest number of hospitalizations and deaths from diseases that are considered to be easily preventable. Compared to the other major economies in the world, the United States’ healthcare system ranks as the worst and gives minimum to no coverage to its working class.

Severance Pay

When the pandemic struck America and millions of its citizens were laid off from their workplaces, people realized the flaw in the system and how there were no checks and balances with regard to an ability to financially support workers who were fired without notice. In Denmark, by contrast, ex-employees are paid 90% of their wages for up to 104 weeks if they have been laid off work without notice or on very short notice. In the U.S., there is no federal (or even state) requirement for severance pay. However, under the current circumstances with COVID-19 and the policies of the current administration, American workers who were earning below a certain level are receiving unemployment insurance payments to tide them over until they are able to go back to work.

Although labor and employment protection history in America has been spotty at best, there are several efforts currently underway to recognize the gaps in the system and account for workers’ welfare during tough economic periods by designing and implementing policies that are much more generous than in the past.


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