Life in the USA
Making a Living
On The Job
The American work week is between 35 and 40 hours a week. You'll have a lunch break of between half an hour and an hour, which might or might not be paid for if you work on an hourly basis. There might be set “coffee break” times or other rest periods.
Insecurity. Bear in mind that the United States has a less paternalistic work environment than many other countries. People move from job to job more frequently and have less loyalty to their particular employer. Employers have less loyalty to their employees. In an effort to keep employees, American companies offer a range of benefits, but even the most paternalistic do not match European companies. For example, an annual paid vacation of, at the most, two weeks is standard in America unless a person has worked at a company for quite a few years. A new employee might get only one week for the first year or two.
Days Off. Large companies also allow a certain number of paid “sick days” and “personal days”. It might be possible to save these days up so as to have a longer vacation. In the case of all time taken off, it is polite and wise to make sure the company has as much notice as possible so the work can continue smoothly without you. You should avoid “calling in sick” in the morning unless you are actually ill.
Insurance Benefits. Most companies that have more than a handful of employees offer some kind of health insurance plan, often including dental and eyeglass plans. You may be required to have a substantial amount of money deducted from your paycheck for your share of this plan. The employer might pay for only some of the cost. If the plan is optional, you should investigate getting your own insurance and compare rates before you sign up.
Pension and Profit Sharing Plans. Executive level personnel and long term employees may benefit from pension and profit sharing plans. These plans are designed to reward loyalty to the company so that the longer you remain, the greater the rate at which the plan accumulates money for you. In a changing economy, however, you have to be careful. You could lose your job or the company could go out of business, causing you to lose out on all or most of these benefits even after many years of faithful service.
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