How does the U.S. policy on discharge and layoffs compare to the rest of the world?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are over 190 countries in the world today. To even write a few paragraphs comparing the labor policies and regulations in the United States with those in every single country in the world would require writing an entire book. 

Within the comparable group of members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 countries committed to democratic governance and market economies, the United States has a relatively open labor market, with few restrictions on discharges and layoffs. 

US legal protections on layoffs include prohibition discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, and religion in choosing which people to lay off. Also, layoffs must be documented and must not violate employment contracts. In general, though, these rules are common in OECD countries, and other protections, such as the strong voice of labor in negotiating layoffs found in Germany or the protections surrounding permanent workers found in Spain and Portugal are quite different from the US labor regulations, making it more difficult for companies to fire permanent employees. 

The United States also has less of a social safety net. Most OECD countries have universal health insurance, irrespective of employment status, while in the US, workers lose health insurance when they are laid off, although many companies do offer COBRA coverage for limited periods. Like most OECD countries, the US does offer unemployment insurance, but the benefits are less generous than in many other OECD countries and the social safety net more porous.