United States

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The United States of America (USA) is an English-speaking North American country. It is bordered by Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The USA is comprised of 50 states and has several territories. Companies expanding into the USA must comply with both federal laws and state laws, depending on where they do business and have employees. The USA has the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP. Top sectors include wholesale and retail trade, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and the automotive industry. It also is a top country in technological expertise.

Employment contracts in the USA may be verbal, written or implied. Common employment contract terms include:

  • name of the employer and employee,

  • nature and extent of service to be performed,

  • location of the work,

  • salary and intervals of payment,

  • start date and duration (if for a fixed-term), and

  • leave entitlements and other benefits.

The standard work week in the USA is 40 hours a week. Employers must pay 1.5 times the employee's regular pay rate for hours over 40. Some employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements, including employees who have a salary above a threshold and work in:

  • administrative,

  • professional,

  • executive,

  • outside sales, or

  • computer-related fields.

Employers that are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave. Some states also require employers to provide sick leave.

The USA does not provide paid maternity leave. However, employers covered under the FMLA must give eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave for the birth and care of a newborn child.

Employers covered under the FLMA must give eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave.

The USA has a federal minimum wage, and many states have laws setting the minimum wage in that state. No state can set a minimum wage less than the federal minimum wage.

Employers are not required to pay bonuses, but in some industries, employees expect to earn performance-based bonuses.

Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave to employees. However, most employers provide paid vacation leave to their employees. The number of days varies by industry and type of employment. Employees often start out with at least 10 days of leave which increases based on years of service.

In the USA, the federal holidays are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • Presidents' Day

  • Memorial Day

  • Juneteenth

  • Independence Day

  • Labor Day

  • Columbus Day

  • Veterans Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Christmas Day

Private employers are not required to give employees federal holidays off or pay them for time not worked on holidays.

The USA has two public healthcare programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare covers people over age 65 and Medicaid covers people with limited incomes.

Employers are not required to provide or pay for private health insurance for employees. However, employers with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance to 95% of their full-time employees or pay a penalty.

Most employees in the USA are “at will” employees, which means that their employer can dismiss them at any time, without notice or cause. However, it is illegal for employers to fire an employee because of the employee’s race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or age.

Employers are not required to pay severance. However, many employers will pay severance when dismissing an employee for redundancy or economic reasons. It is common for companies that provide severance to pay 1 or 2 weeks of pay for each year of service. Employers are not required to provide notice prior to terminating the employment in most instances.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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