Europe’s Labor Problems

Aside from the debt and profligate spending problem, Europe’s labor laws are large contributors.  The Wall Street Journal recently described Italian labor law.  And Italy is not atypical for Europe.

  • Business pays 2/3 of each employee’s social security costs (I won’t go into how cheap we Americans are compared to the Europeans when it comes to social security).
  • Businesses with more than 10 employees (quoting the WSJ)

must submit an annual self-assessment to the national authorities outlining every possible health and safety hazard to which your employees might be subject.  These include stress that is work-related or caused by age, gender and racial differences.  You must also note all precautionary and individual measures to prevent risks, procedures to carry them out, the names of employees in charge of safety, as well as the physician whose presence is required for the assessment.

  • Businesses with more than 15 employees encounter very onerous limits on the ability to fire an employee, for any reason.
  • Businesses with more than 15 employees also must explicitly hire disabled—qualified or not—and must have at least 14 disabled employees when they go above 50 employees.  The businesses must maintain that 7% ratio at all larger sizes.
  • Businesses with more than 100 employees must submit to the government a biennial report on the gender dynamics within the company.  This report must include a tabulation of the men and women employed in each production unit, their functions and level within the company, details of compensation and benefits, and dates and reasons for recruitments, promotions and transfers, as well as the estimated revenue impact.

The WSJ cites the OECD as noting that

All of these protections and assurances, along with the bureaucracies that oversee them, subtract 47.6% from the average Italian wage….  Two-thirds of that bite comes before payroll, meaning many Italian workers are unaware of their gross cost to employers.

I mean, really.  YGTBSM.

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