Swoonworthy Maternity Leave Policies

Countries With The Best Maternity Leave PoliciesMaternity leave is a hot topic with us.

The short, unpaid leaves that most mothers are forced to take when they have a baby is one of the main factors leading to America's ranking as 31 out of 43 developed countries in terms of being a good place to have a baby (we talked about that here).

That, and the fact that the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that does not have a national policy on maternity leave.

Because of this, Working Mother is trying to make a case for paid maternity leave to be mandated in the U.S.

Now, we aren't in the business of feeling jealous over what others have. However, after pulling data from the 2011 State of the World's Mothers report, and piecing that together with the maternity leave policies from the top ten countries, it's easy to feel a little green. From receiving up to 100% of their wages to getting as much as 480 days of parental leave, check out what the rest of the world is offering moms. (Countries are ranked based on their maternity leave policies and are not in the same order as presented in the above report.)

All photos courtesy of CIA—The World Factbook.

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  • Angelique Andrae

    As someone who does HR for our London office, I’ve also heard about a flip-side effect of those very generous maternity policies, which is that it makes it very difficult for women in their child bearing years to get jobs.  And, when they get a job, the disparity in pay between men and women is pretty astonishing.  I was amazed to see salary surveys published in the UK actually listed different rates of pay based on gender.

    I agree that it would be nice if more companies in the US actually had paid maternity policies, but I think that there’s a middle ground that’s missing.  It seems like most professional companies offer some length of paid maternity leave or combination of leave/disability. 

    Our company has short-term disability + pay to equal 100% of the person’s salary during their period of disability following the birth of a child (usually 6-8 weeks) and then offers an additional 3 weeks of paid leave on top of that.  It seems like most of our working moms are ready to return to work by then and if not, we work out an unpaid leave arrangement for a reasonable amount of time.

  • Ilona

     You forgot Canada (one full year maternity/paternity) and some of the former Soviet bloc countries where maternity leaves run into the years, not days.