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There are many differences in the benefits provided by companies in the US and the Commonwealth, and even within the Commonwealth there are differences between countries and companies, so this is simply a guideline of averages to give you some idea of the main differences.

Annual vacation (holidays) in the US normally starts at one week in the first year and increases to two weeks after a year’s service capping out at three weeks after about five years’ service. In most Commonwealth countries annual vacation starts at three weeks and goes up with service to six weeks or more.

Public Holidays

Which public holidays in the US are given to an employee is largely determined by the employer with some companies giving as little as 5 days, being the main public holidays, as paid holidays. In the Commonwealth all public holidays are given as paid (with some variances in each country) but a reasonable average is between 8-13 public holidays.

Pension Plans

American companies have moved away from providing pension contributions instead implementing what is called a 401K – a retirement plan that is virtually fully funded by the employee with the employer making little or no contribution. Those companies that do make a contribution will contribute between 5% and 15% of the amount that the employee contributes. In the Commonwealth, companies invariably contribute 100% and more of what the employee pays. 


In the USA almost all workers are paid every two weeks including management. In Commonwealth countries most workers are paid monthly, normally shortly before the end of the month (such as on the 25th), so they can pay their month end bills.

Salary increases in the USA are called getting a "raise", while in the UK it is called getting a "rise".

The pink slip...

Getting fired in the USA is a lot easier than Commonwealth countries. For a country that expresses a support of human rights the USA is a long way behind the stringent labor laws protecting the rights of employees in Commonwealth countries. In the Commonwealth employees can only be summarily dismissed for provable dishonesty. Being discharged for inefficiency or bad work mostly needs to be supported by a rigmarole of verbal and several written warnings all of which have to relate to similar offences all within a specific period, normally six months. Even then this can be overturned by a smart labor attorney resulting in back pay and reinstatement - kinda opposite to the sue society of America where one would expect such civil protection. For instance one of my bosses in the USA got layed off after 27 years service and only received 2 weeks notice!

If you know of any words or differences I have missed please submit them to me here

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