Maternity leave benefits & comparisons across the world

As we all know the first year you have with your newborns is the most precious, it’s the time in which you’ll create close bonds with your child and soak up the most memories although chances are they won’t remember it. We believe the time in which mothers have off for maternity leave is a key factor to the bond their child will have with themselves, As well as it being crucial to allow a healthy amount of time to adjust mentally and physically to be able to get back into the work/ life balance when that time comes. Sadly we don’t live in a perfect world not every woman has the luxury of having the option of taking a year off work to be with their child as not every country offers paid maternity leave. Whereas some countries offer paid maternity for over 40 weeks! 

When a lot of people think of good standards of living and even better benefits with regards to pregnancy and maternity leave in Europe, Sweden will be the country which will come to mind almost every time. Many people who have moved to Sweden has said there’s an amazing work life balance. Not only do the majority of companies start with approx 5 week paid annual leave per year, but when it comes to paternal leave the benefits are even better. Parents here get 480 days of paid leave to share between them! 420 of these days are paid at a rate of 80% of your salary. The pro’s of pregnancy in Sweden doesn’t stop there if you work a challenging job which requires heavy lifting or in high risk working environment such as a construction site etc.. You’ll be entitled to extra benefits and can actually take start your maternity leave up to 2 months before your due date, This leave will still be paid however it’ll be 80% of their salary and will be paid to the mother by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.

In Denmark parents get a total of 52 weeks of paid parental leave, however compared to Sweden they do have a rule that the mother is entitled to four weeks of leave directly before her due date and the 14 weeks leave after the birth. The father is allowed to take 2 weeks leave after the birth of the child within the mother’s first 14 weeks of maternity leave. After this the remaining weeks can be split as split as they wish, This can be whether they wish to be on leave at the same time or in periods one after the other. 

In the UK you’re entitled to 39 weeks of maternity leave. You’ll also be entitled to statutory maternity pay and for 6 weeks you’ll received 90% of your average weekly pay before tax and the other 33 weeks you’ll get either £148.68 a week or 90% of your average weekly page before tax (Whichever is less).

If we fast forward to Africa, In South Africa for example mothers are entitled to 4 consecutive months of paid maternity leave and are not allowed to work within 6 weeks of the child’s birth unless a medical practitioner certifies her to do so. In the unfortunate event of a miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy or a stillbirth, the woman is entitled to six weeks of leave from the date of the miscarriage or stillbirth whether or not she has commenced maternity leave at the time or not. In the case you’ve decided to adopt a child who is below the age of two, you’ll be entitled to adoption leave mother would be paid through the Unemployment Insurance Fund for at least ten weeks consecutively or paternity leave of 10 days 

These benefits are amazing in comparison to the United States they’re one of the only countries in the world who have not passed any laws requiring businesses and corporations to offer paid maternity leave to their employees. There is only one law which partially covers mothers called the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) It allows them to 12 weeks of leave annually if they have given birth or have adopted a newborn, But unfortunately this leave is unpaid and only applies to certain employees the usual criteria is that you would have been working for the company for a minimum of a year and your employer has more than 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work. However in the case your spouse works for the same company your time would have to be split between the both of you. One a bit of a brighter note certain states i.e California, New York and New Jersey do have their own laws that can help extend the amount of maternity allowance your employers must allow you and some states offer partially paid leave as well, But each individual states laws are different so this will vary across the whole country.

Similar to the US in China your maternity entitlement is based purely on what region in which you live. Mothers who live in Tibet enjoy the longest maternity leave in China (1 year paid leave) Tibetan fathers are eligible for 30 days paternity leave which is great compared to the Shandong province who only allow 7 days of paternity leave. Maternity leave becomes quite complex in China as every region has their own rules but mothers maternity leave varies between 14 weeks – a year and for fathers paternity leave varies between 7 – 30 days depending on the region. 

As you can see the benefits mothers get for maternity leave differ to every country and some in cases the region of the country you live in and this was only to name a few. But there’s one thing that we can all agree on it’s that it’s a crucial bonding time for parents and hopefully over time countries will follow suit and amend their laws to ensure parents get the most time possible with their newborns to not only bond but also adjust to their new lifestyle to get back into work with ease.

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