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JUNE 24, 2014 by ALEX PESTANA
How Does Paid Parental Leave Differ Around The World? You Might Be Surprised


When it comes to the world's maternity leaves report card, not all countries are passing with flying colours. In a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the majority of the United States (excluding two states) received a failing grade in providing women and new mothers support entering motherhood, with most states providing no paid maternity leave. That's a great contrast from countries such as Czech Republic and Slovakia where the standard is 3 years paid support after a child's birth.
In at least 178 countries around the world, paid leave is guaranteed for working moms, while more than 50 countries provide wage benefits for fathers, according to the ILO. The United States, along with Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and Lesotho are some of the only countries in the world that provide no type of financial support for mothers, according to a study done by McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy.

Maternity leaves aren't simply a matter of time off for childcare -- they can also strongly impact the rest of a child's life. According to a report by non-governmental organization Save The Children, in countries with longer periods of parental leave, children were found to be breastfed for longer and their life expectancy was higher.

Women are working later into pregnancy and returning sooner to the office after giving birth than they did years ago. The changes come over the last four decades as more women gained college degrees and professional management positions. This has affected parental leave worldwide.

National laws vary widely according to the politics of each jurisdiction, but typically there are 3 different types of child care policies:

1. Parental leave policies: assists parents that are employed prior to giving birth in order to remain at home for a period of time so that they are able to care for the child.

2. Child care policies: parents get assistance in non parental care for the child by subsidizing whatever type of care the parents select, or parents public programs. "Child care programs serve both working and non-working parents."

3. Early childhood benefits: is the newest policy, this policy supports parents in their every day care of their child. "The benefits by the government are cash grants that can be used to cover the costs of caring for and infant or toddler"

In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) mandates up to 12 weeks of (potentially unpaid) job-protected leave, including parental leave, for many American workers. Subnational laws also vary; for example the U.S. state of California does mandate paid family leave, including parental leave for same-sex partners.

A large majority of countries provide more than 10 paid weeks of maternity leave. Parental leave is important not only for the mother but for the father as well. Paid leave gives parents the time to provide great prenatal and postnatal care, lowers accident rates and allows a great sense of bonding. This will give the family the opportunity to unite, relax, and be together as a family before work and family spill over is introduced. According to Motherhood Manifesto, paid family leave will help out the company by saving money on training and recruitment. This will lead to higher job satisfaction and in return will lead to better work productivity.

12% of companies offered paid maternity leave according to a survey in 2000 by the national Partnership of Woman and Families”.

“Paid family leave is shown to benefit employers by saving them costs of recruitment and training due to high employee turnover, and leading to greater job satisfaction which then translates to higher worker productivity”.

Here are the maternity leave benefits for 43 developed countries in 2011, from shortest to longest periods of time. Are you surprised by the findings?

United States:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 12 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: No national program but cash benefits may be provided at the state level.

Iceland:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 3 Months
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80

Germany:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 14 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Japan:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 14 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 67

Malta:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 14 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

New Zealand:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 14 Weeks Paid, 38 Weeks Unpaid
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Switzerland:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 14 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80

Belgium:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 15 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 82 per cent for the first 30 days and 75 per cent for the remaining period.

Finland:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 105 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 70

Slovenia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 105 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Austria:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 16 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

France:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 16 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Latvia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 112 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Luxembourg:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 16 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Netherlands:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 16 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Spain:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 16 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Greece:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 119 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 50

Australia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 18 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: Each parent can take up to 12 months of leave, of which 18 weeks are paid.

Lithuania:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 126 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Belarus:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 126 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Moldova:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 126 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Ukraine:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 126 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Romania:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 126 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 85

Portugal:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 120 to 150 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: Parental benefits paid at 100 per cent for the shorter duration of leave and 80 per cent for the longer option.

Estonia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 140 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Poland:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 20 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Russia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 140 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Italy:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 5 Months
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80

Bulgaria:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 135 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid:90

Hungary:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 24 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 70

Ireland:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 26 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80

Czech Republic:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 28 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 60

Slovakia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 28 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 55

Macedonia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 9 Months
Percentage Of Wages Paid: Not found.

Norway:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 36 to 46 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: Parental benefits paid at 100 per cent for the shorter duration of leave and 80 per cent for the longer option.

Albania:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 365 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80 per cent prior to birth and for 150 days after and 50 per cent for the rest of the leave period.

Bosnia And Herzegovina:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 1 Year
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 82 per cent for the first 30 days and 75 per cent for the remaining period.

Canada:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 52 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 55 per cent at 17 weeks for maternity leave, and the additional 35 weeks can be taken by either parent. Wages also depend on province.

Croatia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 1 Year
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Denmark:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 52 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

Serbia:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 52 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 100

United Kingdom:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 52 Weeks
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 90

Sweden:
Length Of Maternity Leave: 420 Days
Percentage Of Wages Paid: 80

April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.

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