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Being pregnant

Maternity leave around the world

Find out how new moms (and dads) fare on a global scale when it comes to taking time off work to have a baby.

By Dawn Calleja
Maternity leave around the world

Maternity leave around the world

Maternity leave

The other day, after seeing our bank account hovering dangerously close to zero, I began whining about how little money I’m bringing in during my one-year maternity leave. Then I talked to a new mom in the US. Her little guy was just four months old—yet she’d already been back at work for a month. 

That got me wondering how much time and money parents around the world are entitled to when they have a baby. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average is 18 weeks of paid leave. I did a bit more digging to find out just how well Canada compares.

Originally posted in August 2012. 

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: LindaYolanda/iStockphoto

Albania

Albanian moms are entitled to up to 365 days off, with 80 percent pay for the first 150 days and 50 percent for the rest.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: ollirg/iStockphoto

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Australia

Down Under, either parent can apply for 18 weeks of paid leave at the national minimum wage and can take up to 52 weeks unpaid.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: T-Immagini/iStockphoto

Brazil

The maternity benefits might not be excelente — four months of paid leave — but employees get free childcare until their kids turn six.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: brainsil/iStockphoto

Canada

For most provinces, new moms are entitled to 15 weeks of paid maternity leave at 55 percent of your salary, capped at $485 a week. Another 35 weeks of paid parental leave can be shared with dad.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: stacey_newman/iStockphoto

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China

The 18 million or so women who give birth in China each year can take up to 14 weeks of paid leave. It was recently bumped up from 90 days to comply with the International Labour Organization’s minimum.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: real444/iStockphoto

Croatia

This Balkan country gives moms up to one year off at full pay. So does another former Yugoslav republic, Serbia.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: OGphoto/iStockphoto

Cuba

New madres can take 18 weeks of leave at 100 percent salary, and either parent can take an additional 40 weeks at 60 percent pay. After all, this is a nation where men and women are legally bound to share equally in household chores and the raising of children.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: MariaPavlova/iStockphoto

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France

Mais, bien sûr, French women receive full pay for 16 weeks for their first and second babies and up to 26 weeks for any children. Plus, moms are entitled to up to three years of job-protected leave with stipends for in-home nannies, subsidized childcare and generous monthly allowances. All these goodies are widely credited with bolstering France’s birthrate as other European nations watch theirs plunge.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: cafaphotos/iStockphoto

Italy

Ah, la sorta dolce vita. In Italy, employers are forbidden from expecting women to work during the two months before and three months after their due date, with 80 percent pay. Another six months is up for grabs — at 30 percent pay — until the child turns eight, and can be taken by either mamma or papà.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: SimmiSimons/iStockphoto

Japan

With Japan’s birthrate well below the replacement rate and academics recently announcing that the nation’s people could be extinct within a millennium, the government might think about increasing maternity leave benefits. Moms are now entitled to 14 weeks at 60 percent of pay and up to a year unpaid, to be split between parents.


Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: yihirao/iStockphoto

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Malaysia

Malaysia is one of fewer than 30 countries that don’t comply with the International Labour Organization’s Maternity Protection Convention, which recommends a minimum of 14 weeks of maternity leave. Malay women are entitled to just 60 days, though with 100 percent of pay.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: andy_lim/iStockphoto

Monaco

The principality of Monaco has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world and one of the lowest birth rates. But any moms-to-be can expect eight weeks of leave before and eight weeks after the birth of a first or second child, at 90 percent of earnings. For kid number three or more, that bumps up to 18 weeks after. Dads get 12 days — including Sundays and holidays.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: DaveLongMedia/iStockphoto

Norway

The Scandinavian nation regularly ranks as one of the UN’s top places to live, and no wonder: Parents are entitled to 100 percent of pay for 46 weeks or 80 percent of pay for 56 weeks — but dads must take at least 12 weeks (referred to as the pappapermisjon, or daddy quota) or it’s lost. Ninety percent of Norwegian dads take it.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: tmeks/iStockphoto

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Papua New Guinea

This largely unexplored island north of Australia, home to 830 living languages and 6.2 million people — the majority of them subsistence farmers — guarantees women 12 weeks of job protection, but zero pay.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: Byelikova_Oksana/iStockphoto

Russia

Women can take a total of 140 days off — 70 before the birth and 70 after, at 100 percent salary. And it’s mandatory, comrades. The child’s caregiver — including a grandparent — is entitled to a childcare allowance until the age of three.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: DoroO/iStockphoto

South Africa

Women can take up to four months at up to 60% of pay — one of the more generous African maternity allowances — and are forbidden from working for at least six weeks after birth.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: subman/iStockphoto

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Sweden

Sweden is the paradise of parental leave. Parents are entitled to up to 480 days of leave, at 80 percent pay (up to a certain limit), and moms and dads are encouraged to split the time evenly. Låter utmärkt!

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: ferrantraite/iStockphoto

Tanzania

Women in this east African nation are entitled to up to 84 days of paid leave every three years (100 day for multiples), and they can take up to four maternity leaves while working for the same employer. Fathers get a stingy three days.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: tropicalpixsingapore/iStockphoto

United Arab Emirates

The federation of seven emirates has one of the worst parental leave policies in the world, offering women just 45 days off at full pay. Over the past 30 years, the UAE’s birth rate has been cut in half. It’s now the lowest in the Gulf region.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: dblight/iStockphoto

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United States

If you’ve been employed for 12 months or more, you’re entitled to 12 weeks off, unpaid. Here’s the catch: Only companies with more than 50 employees are covered by the law, which means that more than half of American businesses are exempt. And fewer than one-fifth of U.S. companies voluntarily offer paid maternity leave.

Only Swaziland and Papua New Guinea — where the GDP per capita is $5,400 and $2,600 respectively — have such abysmal policies for new parents. Thanks, Uncle Sam.

Maternity leave around the worldPhoto: yihirao/iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Aug 02, 2014

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