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Unlike the US, Here Are 6 Countries That Are Experimenting How to Make Workers' Lives Better

France curbs after-work emails, while a Swedish city experiments with six-hour work days.

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4. Venezuela: Paying mothers. This Latin American country doesn’t often come up in mainstream discussions of worker rights. Instead, news media have focused on the opposition-government conflict and the hard left turn away from the U.S. Venezuela took under former President Hugo Chavez (who died last year).

But Venezuela has strong worker rights’ provisions on the books. In May 2012, Chavez signed a new law that reduced weekly working hours to 40 hours and increased maternity leave to 6.5 months. In addition, Venezuela pays full-time mothers a pension.

The 2012 labor law also outlawed outsourcing, and made it difficult to fire people.

5. Brazil: 41 vacation days. Brazil is another Latin American country that has perks for workers. Along with Lithuania, Brazil has the distinction of being the country that offers the most paid vacation days in the world: 41. Thirty of those are at the worker’s choosing, and the other 11 are public holidays.

As in other countries, there are labor sectors in Brazil that are badly mistreated. But one of those sectors recently won a big victory. Last March, the Brazilian legislature passed a law giving domestic workers the same rights as other workers, including overtime after eight hours on the job or 44 hours per week.

6. Finland: Subsidized childcare and 40 days off. Here’s yet another European country where workers are treated quite well. Finnish laborers get 30 days off per year, in addition to 10 holidays. A measly .04 percent of workers in Finland labor for more than 50 hours a week on average. And those who have worked at the same company for more than a decade get at least 40 days off.

The country also treats working parents well. All parents with small children are legally guaranteed access to subsidized childcare.

Alex Kane is AlterNet's New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

 
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