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Average salaries for my industry (software) are much, much lower were I work (Italy) than in the USA. Also, we pay a lot of taxes, in some cases more than half of our gross income. On the other hand, we have some lawful rights that are missing in the States and they are quite valuable. These include, but may not be limited to (I could be forgetting some):

  • If the company employs 15 or more people, we cannot be fired without a strong reason that must be approved by a court
  • Paid sick leave, basically as long as our doctor says that we are ill
  • Paid vacation time, at least 20 working days per year
  • Paid absence hours to run errands (How many hours? This can vary. Let's say about 100 hours per year)
  • Paid wedding leave, 15 working days when we marry (only once)
  • Paid parental leave, at least two months before the birth and three months after the birth, for mothers (some can be transferred to the father instead)
  • If the firm goes bankrupt, we employees are the first ones who get our money (in case there is still any), before banks and other creditors
  • No need to negotiate for medical benefits: we don't need an health insurance because all citizens are covered by the National Health Service
  • Working hours: we are typically salaried, but our salary pays exactly 40 hours per week. We then need to be paid extra for overtime and on call time. (My understanding of many posts on this site is that salaried workers in the USA normally work unpaid overtime). EDIT: Hilmar explained the meaning of the word salaried. So what I really mean is that we have national contracts that state that we work 40 hours per week for a certain pay and when we go beyond that we get paid for overtime.
  • Obligatory 15 minutes (paid) break every two hours if our job requires to look at a monitor

You may argue that this is changing, (just google Italy's jobs act), so please consider the situation of someone who started their current job before March 2015.

How can the worker estimate the value of such a list of lawful rights, when having to decide whether to exchange them for a much higher pay in the USA?

I hope that some objective arguments can be found, but I'm not sure. If we find out that this is not a good subjective question, I will close it.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Justin Cave, Philip Kendall, Lilienthal, gnat, Philipp Sep 15 '16 at 7:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Your basic question is "how much money is [arbitrary list of benefits] worth to me?" which is by definition a personal question. "How do I estimate the value of benefit X?" can have objective answers but any value judgement will always be subjective and highly personal. Voting to close as personal advice. – Lilienthal Sep 15 '16 at 5:49
  • @Lilienthal I changed the wording to match your formulation in case the old one suggested that I expected answers that indicate any amount of money – Mario Trucco Sep 15 '16 at 7:04
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That really depends on your own personal value systems but having worked both in the US and in Europe for many years and I can comment on some of the differences.

If the company employs 15 or more people, we cannot be fired without a strong reason that must be approved by a court

That's also mostly true for US "union" jobs but not for most normal jobs. Whether this is good or bad depends on your view point. It's high job security but you also often end up with a few people just doing the bare bones minimum with can be very demotivating for the rest of the team.

Paid sick leave, basically as long as our doctor says that we are ill

There are provisions for this as well but the details depend on the company. Typically the first few days come out of your "sick day" budget and than you go on short term disability or in serious cases a long term disability. You still get paid but not always the full amount. The insurance premiums are mostly covered bu the employer.

Paid vacation time, at least 20 working days per year

US starts at 10 days but most companies go up to 20 or 25 days the longer you stay. Or it's PTO (See next bullet)

Paid absence hours to run errands (How many hours? This can vary. Let's say about 100 hours per year)

I have worked at one US company that had this too, but these time it's just part of PTO (paid time off). This is vacation, errands and some sick time in one bucket and you get to chose how to use it. It's typically between 15 days and 25 days depending on how long you have been with the company.

Paid wedding leave, 15 working days when we marry (only once)

I have never seen this in the US, and I didn't get it in Germany either. Seems to be Italy specific.

Paid parental leave, at least two months before the birth and three months after the birth, for mothers (some can be transferred to the father instead)

That has recently become a lot better in the US. My current employer has about roughly the same but it does vary a lot.

If the firm goes bankrupt, we employees are the first ones who get our money (in case there is still any), before banks and other creditors

No idea how this works in the US but it's a pretty rare occurence

No need to negotiate for medical benefits: we don't need an health insurance because all citizens are covered by the National Health Service

You do not need to negotiate your medical benefits: that's typically done by your employer. However, it's very expensive and complicated. It's a mixed blessing: US health care services are often quite good but cost and complexity are mind boggling.

Working hours: we are tipically salaried, but our salary pays exactly 40 hours per week. We then need to be paid extra for overtime and on call time. (My understanding of many posts on this site is that salaried workers in the USA normally work unpaid overtime)

That's exactly what "salaried" or "exempt" means: you get a fixed salary regardless of how long you work.

Obligatory 15 minutes (paid) break every two hours if our job requires to look at a monitor

Doesn't exist in the US.

If you have an offer from a US company most of the terms are clearly spelled out, so I suggest you study it carefully. They are not all the same.

It's true that federal taxes in the US are lower than in Europe, however you also have to pay state taxes and local real estate taxes which are much higher than in Europe. So the overall tax rate is closer than you would think.

  • "Paid wedding leave" in Germany would very likely be a reason for Sonderurlaub. But only a few days, not weeks. – kat0r Sep 15 '16 at 11:29
  • Thanks. Our translation of salaried describes the worker who is employed by others and gets paid for his/her time, as opposed to the self-employed who run their own business. Now I understand the American definition; I think that it'd imply that the salaried can leave early when they are ready, but it doesn't seem to be the case... – Mario Trucco Sep 15 '16 at 15:09
  • @MarioTrucco: salaried in the context of US employment means: fixed pay, fixed working hours but expected to do as many hours as you need to complete your job. Higher paid positions are usually "salaried exempt" which means no overtime pay/compensation at all. In contrast to that is the "hourly" worker, which gets paid by the hour but those hours change, and you may not get as many hours as you need (to pay your bills). – kat0r Sep 15 '16 at 15:33

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