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Maternity Leave Around the World

When talking about gender equality in the workplace, there is one area that often comes up: maternity and parental leave.

Women account for at least 40% of the global workforce and 47% of the workforce in the United States, so the issue of maternity leave is big, especially as it pertains to earnings. For example, one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research noted that high-skilled, childbearing women in the U.S. lose as much as $230,000 in wages over their lifetime, as compared to high-skilled women without children. By comparison, there appears to be no loss of wages for men.

And while many countries have moved to adopt maternity and/or parental leave programs, all are not created equal. European countries, for instance, tend to have more progressive programs implemented than some of their Western peers.

Here’s a quick look at some maternity leave programs around the world:

Sweden

  • Each parent receives 240 days of paid parental leave at 80% of their pay.
  • One parent can extend their leave for another 90 days, also paid at 80%.
  • Parents also have the right to reduce their hours by up to 25% until the child turns eight years old, though they would only be paid for the time worked.

Norway

  • Parental leave is granted for 49 weeks at 100% of pay or 59 weeks at 80% of pay.

Serbia

  • Mothers receive 20 weeks of maternity leave at 100% of pay.
  • An additional year of leave can be granted, though the rate of pay is a sliding scale:
    • First 26 weeks: 100%
    • Weeks 27 to 39: 60%
    • Weeks 40 to 52: 30%

The Philippines

  • Paid maternity leave was recently extended to 105 days from six weeks.
  • Single working mothers can receive an additional 15 days paid.
  • Of the 105 days allowed to mothers, seven days can be transferred to fathers.
  • Fathers have seven days of paid paternity leave, 14 if they receive seven from the mother’s leave.

Australia

  • The primary caregiver of the newborn or adopted child receives 18 weeks of paid leave. However, they are paid at the national minimum wage.

U.S.

  • Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), women can receive up to 12 weeks of parental leave. However, FMLA does not mandate that they be paid during their leave.

About the Author

Stephanie N. Rotondo is a staff writer and editor at WorldatWork.

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