Skip to content

How it is like to work in USA (plus an announcement)

First of all, I’d like to announce my Italian-speaking readers that I have a brand new popular science blog, focused on made-in-Italy scientific researchs. Yes guys, we Italians do more than simple pizzas!

Then, here I’d like to report to my non-US readers what some excerpts from a Reddit thread on the work condition in USA. Read how real capitalism works, and weep.

There is no law which requires employers in the US to provide leave for their employees […]

As for holiday leave, you are not required to give ANY leave to any employee. Companies simply provide employees leave as an “enticement” for them to work at a certain employer.

Now most salaried, office workers will have around two weeks leave per year (plus all/some national holidays), but just try and use those vacation days and see your boss’ or colleagues reactions! What are you some kinda lazy communist! You’re USING your vacation time! That takes quite some nerve!

Want a vacation? Fine, take one but don’t expect a job when you come back because they can hire someone for cheaper to do the work while you are gone instead of missing out on productivity holding an empty spot for you.

Many jobs don’t even give sick days, if you are sick and don’t show up you don’t get paid.

it’s common practice at where my mom works for them to try to fire people near retirement age so they don’t have to pay them a pension.

I need to put in a two weeks advanced notice if I am planning on taking even 1 day off.

I do research with a fortune 500 company. Plant genetics. I’m no Ph.D, I just have my B.S, but I work with people with M.S who are in the same situation as me. The company hires through other companies which provide the employees (me). This way they can provide healthcare and paid time off to their veteran employees but hire new people without giving them those benefits. I get 5 days of vacation a year, provided I’ve already worked the whole year. No sick days. No healthcare. Other people I work with who got hired through other contracting companies get zero vacation days. Even those with an M.S.

at my old company every time someone takes a solid week off they are fired. You can sneak a day or two off but if you try to take your week leave all at once they will use the time to change all the passwords then hire someone to replace you.

Some people come in to work sick because it’s that or they don’t get paid.

When I am sick, I’m expected to work. When there were tornadoes, I was expected to work. Any expense my work can push onto me they will. Any excuse they can make to cut my wages is exploited. They do not schedule overtime, but instead employ a large range of inexperienced and quickly replaceable crew, so that all shifts can be covered without anyone getting paid overtime. Sometimes, they fire people as they approach the six-month mark, just so that they won’t be legally obligated to give a reason for firing anyone at the place.

To those of you thinking, “You need a new job”, this has been all my jobs, for my entire life, and I’ve had quite a few. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make $7.25 an hour for the next eight to ten hours (which I can’t predict because they don’t know themselves) so I can make barely enough money to float myself through life, and await the day I get injured and live in debt for the rest of my life.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the first time they figure out that I’m an atheist, from then on, I get off for zero holidays. Everything from Mardi Gras to the 4th of July I’m expected to work. I can’t even get regular Sundays off, despite that my churchgoing coworkers can request that without a hitch.

Ya, the pricing for health insurance is nuts. I’ve been fortunate to be a completely healthy young adult, so my insurance is around $60/month, for a completely basic plan. But I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who wasn’t so lucky growing up. The cheapest she could find would be upwards of $400 a month. And that would only cover enough to keep her from going bankrupt if she had a major medical problem. Meaning that they wouldn’t pay a dime until the bills passed $10000. So even with the insurance, she couldn’t afford to go into the doctor because of a belly ache.

Even Americans that get as much as three weeks leave are discouraged from using it at all by being passed over for promotions if they have the gall to take a holiday. Why would you want to go away if you’re a team player? Jones is a team player. He has six kids and hasn’t missed a day of work in 15 years… I pick Jones!

Being paid to take a vacation seems like a freaking dream.

I work in the restaurant industry and it’s pretty much a joke if you ask about paid vacations. No one gets paid vacations or sick leave in the food buisness unless you are one of the people running the show.

I used to have a job where calling-out sick was enough to get you fired.

I have a decent-paying white-collar job and I get no vacation, no insurance, no retirement, and only TWO paid days off every year- christmas & independence day. and in this job market, my only option if I want any of those things is to work for a lot less money.

This is a country where one bad accident, one child born with a disability, can financially put you in the poor house for LIFE.

I’ve never had a vacation in my 8 years of working life.

In my studies of anthropology and psychology, I find devastating effects of the work scene on the lives in individuals in America. Most Americans find themselves subject to a sheltered, or closeted life, due to either strict employment, lack of spare time, and/or strict parenting due to knowledge of aforementioned strict employment. Many employers want you to do exactly what you’re told, as opposed to what you can do, despite your actual knowledge of any specific matter at hand.

Iran has better maternity leave than the United States

I am a waiter in the States. zero weeks leave. zero benefits. minimum wage. Europeans, please tip your servers 20%.

there’s no mandatory maternity leave in the United States. My wife and I just had our first child three months ago and it was incredibly stressful. She had to apply for extended disability which came with a 40% salary reduction for the duration.

We hear propaganda all the time that basically says that, if we want time off, then we’re socialists.

if you are “fortunate” to get 2 weeks paid vacation, you may still be contacted EVERY DAY by the office. Some companies give free Blackberries…not to be nice, but to justify that you cannot be out of touch for any longer than the time it takes to pee, poop, shower or have sex.

Obviously, long hours take their toll and people get sick. This is due to rushed meals (fast food) and no exercise. Let’s face it, how many of us really have time to work out five days a week like we used to in College? There’s a reason married men live longer than single men…wifey prepares your meals and does your laundry. So the Average American is overworked and more or less burned to a crisp in terms of stress levels.

You aren’t paid for sick/vacation days, and those days are easily messed with. You are supposed to get a mandatory 2 weeks, but many employers will do anything they can to stop you from getting even that. I can’t tell you how many friends i’ve seen forced to quiet their jobs after taking vacation time and then seeing their hours “mysteriously” cut. Employers will subtly threaten you like this. They will just drop and drop your hours until you are working one day a week and are forced to leave. Take your vacation time and you will be seen as “unreliable”. They won’t come out and say this of course, but once your hours are cut and you inquire about it, that is how they respond. You are unreliable. You aren’t a hard worker. Whatever.

You say “why not sue?”. The people waiting tables or sitting behind retail counters usually don’t have their pocket’s lined with cash. Employee abuse is so common and so accepted because the people in these jobs are usually very poor and desperate to keep their job.

My mom had to have surgery to remove some cancer and she wanted me there that day. When I asked for the day off I was told “Its not that serious, its just stage one right?”

Even many jobs that offer vacation time guilt you for trying to take it. They will hold your job over your head making you feel like if you actually take the vacation time they give you, your job might not be there when you get back.

That’s the country that Europe thinks is a role model. That’s what we’re going to become. Welcome to America, land of the free.


  1. JP JP

    “That’s the country that Europe thinks is a role model.”

    huh? Where? I haven’t seen a single politician saying they want to be like America. In Europe, that’s suicide.

    Nobody sees America as a role model on this side of the Atlantic (I live in Edinburgh and I’m South American). Not even when it comes to the good things, like freedom of speech, where America is way ahead from Europe, racial integration (more mixed race couples in the US than any other country in the world), or federalism (something Europeans seem to abhor in their petty localism).

    “That’s what we’re going to become.”

    The conditions of labour you describe are par of the course in Southern Italy and Spain. All introduced by European parties voted by Europeans. Thatcherism was tested in Europe before it was done in America.

    • “huh? Where? I haven’t seen a single politician saying they want to be like America. In Europe, that’s suicide.”

      Depends which part of Europe you talk about. In Italy it’s pretty common, especially for the moderate left.

      “The conditions of labour you describe are par of the course in Southern Italy and Spain. All introduced by European parties voted by Europeans. Thatcherism was tested in Europe before it was done in America.”

      I don’t know about Spain, but in Italy (where I live) it is like that only for temporary employment. But they are trying hard to change our job legislation to arrive to that for all jobs.

  2. tertu tertu

    I know some “MIT”;”Harvard” sons who return to Europe with the “US-Model” in mind…just to run it as they were taught to.

  3. Dr. Vegan Dr. Vegan

    I used to be a postdoc at UCLA, and it was the most pathetic experience I’ve ever had as a human being. I told my PI, I’m off to renew my visa and he actually said ‘ why don’t you use a MasterCard’. I swear I’m not making this up. USA is the best third world country

  4. […] in pratica che -secondo me, secondo la mia piccola opinione- va fermato. Perchè secondo me questo tipo di mercato del lavoro va fermato. Così come ogni giorno noi vogliamo fermare un sacco di cose che non ci piacciono, in politica: […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *