UK benefits system 'among the toughest in Europe'

The UK has one of the most frugal benefits systems in Europe, suggesting this country is no longer an "easy ride", according to a new study.

Research of 14 countries by jobs site Glassdoor showed that the UK was third from bottom in terms of unemployment benefit, annual leave, sick pay and maternity entitlements.

The most generous welfare and workplace benefits were in Denmark, France and Spain, said the report.

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 US. There is, however, considerable variation across the region. Providing workplace entitlements is a complex responsibility for governments. Striking the right balance is never easy."

The study found that Denmark was the best country to be unemployed, while Belgium and the Netherlands also offer attractive welfare packages.

Paid sick leave is most generous in the Netherlands, where workers can be absent for up to two years and receive 70% of their salary.

The UK is the most generous for maternity leave, while Finland offers fathers 45 days off, well ahead of other countries.

The UK is near the bottom for annual leave, added Glassdoor.

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