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The World's Best Places To Get Laid Off

Best Places To Get Laid Off

No matter where you are, losing your job is never a good thing, but there's no question that some places have better unemployment benefits than others. There are countries that will pay you up to 90 percent of your previous salary. Beyond the actual unemployment check, there are other benefits, such as generous severance-pay requirements, a large windows of time for how long you can collect unemployment benefits and compensation for housing, medical and child-care costs. In Denmark, for example,
Source: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) || Photo: Tetra Images

No matter where you are, losing your job is never a good thing, but there's no question that some places have better unemployment benefits than others.

There are countries that will pay you up to 90 percent of your previous salary. Beyond the actual unemployment check, there are other benefits, such as generous severance-pay requirements, a large windows of time for how long you can collect unemployment benefits and compensation for housing, medical and child-care costs.

In Denmark, for example, you can collect unemployment benefits for up to four years. (In the U.S., there are no legal requirements but most companies pay you one week’s salary for every year worked.)

Austerity measures there and elsewhere have had little impact on unemployment benefits, said David Grubb of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The recession also had little impact, he said, except for the U.S., where the duration of unemployment benefits was extended.

The U.S., in fact, did not make the list. It ranks as “average” in the unemployment department, with the average collection being 53 percent of prior wages. Where the U.S. loses out to other countries is that it doesn’t offer assistance with living expenses except for food stamps.

The housing component cannot be underestimated, Grubb said. Most of Europe has a housing allowance, so “not a lot of people wind up homeless,” he said. “In Japan, you might – and in the U.S., you almost definitely would,” he said.

Other countries that didn’t make the list may seem like they have good benefits, like Canada and Japan, but the requirements to qualify for benefits are nearly impossible.

In Japan, for example, you have to show that you have virtually nothing left in the bank and there are regular home inspections of the unemployed to make sure you don’t have a flat-screen TV or expensive car.

The UK didn’t make the list because the average benefit is only 45 percent of your prior wages, but the big perk is they pay 100 percent of your housing costs.

So what countries did make the list? Click here to check out the Best Places to be Unemployed*.

By Cindy Perman & Paul ToscanoPosted 3 Dec 2010

* Based on the average percent of prior wages paid to the unemployed

10. Iceland

Avg. unemployment benefits: 70.9% of prior wagesThe average unemployment benefit paid in Iceland is nearly 71 percent of prior wages, according to the OECD. That number jumps to 90 percent for lower-income families that have two or more kids. They also offer assistance for funeral costs, dental bills and children under 12. People are eligible to collect unemployment if they have been working legally in Iceland for at least 3 months. They can collect benefits for up to three years, the longest of
Source: OECD | Photo: Ilan Arad | Getty Images

Average benefits: 70.9% of prior wages

The average unemployment benefit paid in Iceland is nearly 71 percent of prior wages, according to the OECD. That number jumps to 90 percent for lower-income families that have two or more kids. They also offer assistance for funeral costs, dental bills and children under 12.

People are eligible to collect unemployment if they have been working legally in Iceland for at least 3 months. They can collect benefits for up to three years, the longest of anywhere else on the list.

9. Germany

Avg. unemployment benefits: 72% of prior wages Germans collect 72 percent of their prior salary, on average, and can collect unemployment benefits for up to a year – though for young people it can be longer. The amount collected jumps to 92 percent for those families where both parents work. In addition, recipients are given housing and heating allowances. To qualify, a person needs to have worked at least 12 months in the past three years. They also have to be willing to take a “suitable job” o
Source: OECD || Photo: Getty Images

Average benefits: 72% of prior wages

Germans collect 72 percent of their prior salary, on average, and can collect unemployment benefits for up to a year – though for young people it can be longer. The amount collected jumps to 92 percent for those families where both parents work. In addition, recipients are given housing and heating allowances.

To qualify, a person needs to have worked at least 12 months in the past three years. They also have to be willing to take a “suitable job” or training course. In the first four months, a “suitable job” is one the person is trained for, after that, they have to be willing to change careers and/or lower their standards.

In addition, the government requires employers to give employees ample notice before they lay them off: A month for those working less than a year and seven months for those working 20 or more years.

8. Denmark

Avg. unemployment benefits: 72.1% of prior wages The Scandinavian region (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland) in general is known for having some of the best unemployment benefits but the region has struggled in the past few decades with being benefit-dependent. In Denmark, the unemployed collect 72 percent of their prior wages, on average, and can collect unemployment for up to four years. That number jumps to 93 percent for low-income families where both parents work. Plus, recipient
Source: OECD || Photo: Panoramic Images | Getty Images

Average benefits: 72.1% of prior wages

The Scandinavian region (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland) in general is known for having some of the best unemployment benefits but the region has struggled in the past few decades with being benefit-dependent.

In Denmark, the unemployed collect 72 percent of their prior wages, on average, and can collect unemployment for up to four years. That number jumps to 93 percent for low-income families where both parents work. Plus, recipients are given a housing allowance, based on their household type, dwelling size and housing costs.

Most countries require that the employed pay into the unemployment-insurance fund but in Denmark, paying into the system is voluntary. In addition, Denmark has strict notice of termination requirements of three to 10 weeks.

7. The Netherlands

Avg. unemployment benefits: 73.2% of prior wages* In the Netherlands, the average collected is 73 percent of prior wages, and people can collect unemployment for up to 18 months. The program is most generous to low-income families where only one parent works – those people get 87 percent of their prior salary. To qualify, you must have worked for 26 out of the past 36 weeks. That requirement is lower for “occupational groups” such as artists, musicians and those in the film industry
Source: OECD || Photo: Michael Porro | Getty Images

Average benefits: 73.2% of prior wages*

In the Netherlands, the average collected is 73 percent of prior wages, and people can collect unemployment for up to 18 months. The program is most generous to low-income families where only one parent works – those people get 87 percent of their prior salary.

To qualify, you must have worked for 26 out of the past 36 weeks. That requirement is lower for “occupational groups” such as artists, musicians and those in the film industry

*Figures are from 2007

6. Slovenia

Avg. unemployment benefits: 74.11% of prior wages In Slovenia, the average amount collected is 74 percent of prior wages and you can collect unemployment for up to two years. To qualify, you have to have worked for at least 12 of the past 18 months.
Source: OECD || Photo: Michael Runkel | Robert Harding World Imagery | Getty Images

Average benefits: 74.11% of prior wages

In Slovenia, the average amount collected is 74 percent of prior wages and you can collect unemployment for up to two years. To qualify, you have to have worked for at least 12 of the past 18 months.

5. France

Avg. unemployment benefits: 74.16% of prior wages In France, the average amount collected is 74 percent of prior wages and you can collect for up to 23 months. As an added bonus, an extra benefit is given to people with children under 12. Overall, the cost of child care and school meals varies based on income, Grubb said. So, if you’re unemployed, you won’t pay very much. People “can survive long-term on benefits, although with relatively low net income,” Grubb said. France also requires that co
Source: OECD || Photo: Getty Images

Average benefits: 74.16% of prior wages

In France, the average amount collected is 74 percent of prior wages and you can collect for up to 23 months. As an added bonus, an extra benefit is given to people with children under 12. Overall, the cost of child care and school meals varies based on income, Grubb said. So, if you’re unemployed, you won’t pay very much.

People “can survive long-term on benefits, although with relatively low net income,” Grubb said.

France also requires that companies provide one to two months notice of termination and pay up to four months severance (before unemployment benefits kick in) depending on how long the person has worked at the company.

4. Switzerland

Avg. unemployment benefits: 81.9 % of prior wages In Switzerland, the average amount collected is 82 percent and you can collect for up to 1 ½ years. The program is most generous to low-income couples where both work, regardless of whether or not they have children – those couples collect 89 percent of their prior wages. Plus, the government provides housing and basic medical-care allowances and an extra benefit to people with children under 12. Switzerland also requires that companies provide e
Source: OECD || Photo: Getty Images

Average benefits: 81.9 % of prior wages

In Switzerland, the average amount collected is 82 percent and you can collect for up to 1 ½ years. The program is most generous to low-income couples where both work, regardless of whether or not they have children – those couples collect 89 percent of their prior wages. Plus, the government provides housing and basic medical-care allowances and an extra benefit to people with children under 12.

Switzerland also requires that companies provide employees with one to three months notice and pay up to 2 ½ months severance, depending on how long an employee worked there.

3. Latvia

Avg. unemployment benefits: 83.4% of prior wages Latvia tied for second place, with the average amount collected at 83 percent of the employee’s prior salary, though they rank No. 3 due to other factors. The Latvian unemployment program favors couples where both people work, regardless of their level of income — they collect 91 to 94 percent of their prior income. Those with no children tend to collect a higher percentage of their previous salary (that’s opposite from most countries on this list
Source: OECD || Photo: Getty Images

Average benefits: 83.4% of prior wages

Latvia tied for second place, with the average amount collected at 83 percent of the employee’s prior salary, though they rank No. 3 due to other factors.

The Latvian unemployment program favors couples where both people work, regardless of their level of income — they collect 91 to 94 percent of their prior income. Those with no children tend to collect a higher percentage of their previous salary (that’s opposite from most countries on this list), though if both work, they jump to the top of the range.

2. Portugal

Avg. unemployment benefits: 83.4% of prior wages Portugal is technically tied with Latvia, with the average collected at 83 percent of the prior salary, but it jumps ahead because it offers a housing allowance, extra benefit for those with children under 12 and has a severance policy that blow everyone else out of the water. If an employee worked for nine months, the company has to pay them three months severance; if they worked for 20 years, they get a whopping 20 months – nearly two years -- o
Source: OECD || Photo: Ilad Arad | Getty Images

Average benefits: 83.4% of prior wages

Portugal is technically tied with Latvia, with the average collected at 83 percent of the prior salary, but it jumps ahead because it offers a housing allowance, extra benefit for those with children under 12 and has a severance policy that blow everyone else out of the water. If an employee worked for nine months, the company has to pay them three months severance; if they worked for 20 years, they get a whopping 20 months – nearly two years -- of severance. Plus, they require two months notice of termination.

The program favors middle- and higher-income people – they make 84 to 92 percent of their prior income, whereas lower-income people tend to make in the high 70s. That’s with one caveat – if they both work and have children. Those families earn more than 90 percent regardless of their prior income level.

1. Luxembourg

Avg. unemployment benefits: 84.2% of prior wages And the winner is… Luxembourg! The unemployed here earn an average of 84.2 percent of their prior salary and can collect benefits for up to a year. That number jumps to 93 percent for low-income families where both parents work. Plus, they have a generous housing allowance and extra benefit for kids under 12. To qualify, a person needs only to have worked 16 hours a week for 26 weeks in the past year.
Source: OECD || Photo: Getty Images

Average benefits: 84.2% of prior wages

And the winner is… Luxembourg! The unemployed here earn an average of 84.2 percent of their prior salary and can collect benefits for up to a year. That number jumps to 93 percent for low-income families where both parents work. Plus, they have a generous housing allowance and extra benefit for kids under 12.

To qualify, a person needs only to have worked 16 hours a week for 26 weeks in the past year.