Protections for American Workers are Minimal

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Among the leading economies of the world, the United States is one of the most reticent Countries to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. In detail, it is the only Country, among the highly developed Countries, without the duty for employers to grant paid vacation days, or a federal paid maternal leave, and the list goes on...

by Bianca Cataldo

Jan. 20, 2020

International Labour Organization

The International Labour Organization is a United Nations service that promotes social justice and productive work in conditions of equity, freedom, and security.

The U.S. is a party to only 14 of the 189 labor conventions. Most important, it has only ratified two of the eight core ILO conventions (abolition of forced labor and abolition of the worst forms of child labor). However, the majority of ILO member states and all the European nations have ratified at least four core conventions. Lastly, 138 ILO members have ratified all eight core conventions.

Federal Law for Employers and Employees

Federal law does not provide for vacation pay. In fact, employees are not legally entitled to paid vacation time or paid holidays, but it is based upon an agreement between the employer and the employee. Although some work positions have paid vacations, sick days, etc. others do not offer these privileges.

Research found that out of the 21 most developed Countries in the World, the U.S. is the only economy that does not have a federal paid vacation policy. The disparity between the U.S. and the rest of these Countries is significant. In fact, while European Countries have at the very least four weeks or twenty days of paid vacation, and other Countries have at least six paid holidays a year, the U.S. has none.

Moreover, in the U.S. there is no National requirement for paid sick days either. Some employers allow workers unpaid time off for medical leave. Comparing this reality to the reality of other developed Countries, we observe how in these Countries the right to health is recognized as a fundamental right by law. Therefore, to safeguard it, the employee receives a paid sick leave on days when working capacity is reduced due to illness or injury.

Lastly, many Countries all over the world adopted maternity and/or parental leave programs, usually parents receive days of paid parental leave (it can be at 100% of their pay, 80%, etc.). However, in the U.S. even though women can receive up to 12 weeks of parental leave (under the Family and Medical Leave Act) they do not have the right to be paid during this period.

In the U.S. there are no National requirements that protect workers. This is just a part of the issues that afflict American workers. Considering that the U.S. is a developed Country, this reality is mind-blowing, and it has to change.

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