Europeans Shocked and Outraged at America’s Work Culture

Americans are in love with work. We brag about our long hours and lack of sleep while buying productivity-boosting self-help books so we can make the most of each waking moment. 

However, we don’t get much out of it. We make pitiful wages, have very few sick days, and are expected to sacrifice our days off at the boss’s whims. 

Our friends across the pond lurk in American work-focused subs on Reddit for the shock factor. Is this really how things are in the States, they wonder?

One European user posted in the popular antiwork subreddit, expressing disgust at America’s working conditions. 

European User Calls Out Toxic Work Culture

So I’m a long time lurker of this sub and just wanted to say some words,” the original poster (OP) began. 

“Im a foreman at a warehouse in an EU country, and I’m in [chock] sic. at what kind of piss poor working conditions you have in the US. If I could, I would offer you all a job at my work place because sh– that I read here would never fly here.”

Examples of Poor Working Conditions

The user offered examples of messed up working conditions they often see discussed in the sub, saying that none of these would fly in their own European country. 

Your Day Off Isn’t Yours

In the US, many employers expect employees to be “on call” even if they aren’t paid for it. Workers should drop everything, come in if called, cover shifts for coworkers, and be a “team player.”

According to the OP, “You should enjoy your life on a free day and not think about work.”

Who Covers Shifts?

Some retail and service workers must cover their own shifts if they need a sick day. A manager won’t approve the time off unless the worker finds someone to cover. 

The OP pointed out that covering shifts is a manager’s responsibility. It shouldn’t fall on the sick employee’s shoulders. 

HR is on the Wrong Side

When users seek help from the Antiwork sub regarding working conditions, respondents are generally quick to point out that HR exists to protect the company, not the employer. 

OP thinks this system is backward. “HR should be on the employee’s side, not the bosses,” they said. 

Little to No Vacation

Workers in the US are lucky if they get two weeks off per year for vacation time. Many European countries require companies to offer far more. 

OP expressed disdain at the limited time off enjoyed by Americans. “You should at least have 4 weeks of paid vacation. We are humans and not robots,” they said. 

Limited Sick Days?

Speaking of sick time, the OP was flabbergasted that the US limits the number of sick days an employee gets. 

People can’t control their illnesses. It’s impossible to control how long a sickness will last, when you’ll catch a new bug, or when the kids get sick. 

In the US, people without sick time have to choose between losing money and going to work sick. 

Other European Users Agree

European Redditors jumped into the thread to agree with OP. 

“I started with 6 weeks here in Germany. Since I didn’t take 5 days last year, I have 35 days this year, said one, discussing their paid time off. “Suff I read here is unimaginable,” they added. 

“Spain here,” announced another.  “22 days off plus 14 bank holidays. Maximum of 1880 hours worked per year, including overtime, with mandated 1.5 days of rest a week and 12 hours between shifts. And yeah, if you’re too sick to work, that’s it. Two days or six months, doesn’t matter. That’s just the legal bare minimum; normally, collective bargaining will improve it one way or another. We have problems, but compared to America, they’re not a big deal.”

American Users Respond

American users had nothing kind to say about their toxic work environment

Users pointed out that companies would prefer it if employees came to work sick because they could hire fewer people. 

“They expect us to work sick,” said one. 

“A literal Drs note will not excuse ya from getting points in the worst places to work for,” replied another. 

Others said even companies that offer time off restrict how employees use it. 

“After working 90/100hr weeks all year, my work wouldn’t even let me stack my 5days of vacation with my two days off to have 7 consecutive days off in a row. Their reasoning….just because, no,” commented one. 

Why is American Work Culture Awful?

Some Redditors took the opportunity to discuss why our work culture is so harmful to workers. 

Key points included a lack of social cohesion, the “crabs in a bucket” mentality, and successful propaganda against collective bargaining. 

Others pointed out the idea of American individualism and exceptionalism. 

“There is a ridiculous, inexplicably accepted attitude here that you just power through whatever,” said one user. “No one wants hear your “excuses” as to why you can’t work. They really do make you feel like you’re a whiny, weak little liar who is just trying to get out of their “responsibilities.” Anyone who stands up against it is swiftly singled out as a liar/not a team player/whiner,” they added. 

Source: Reddit