Earlier this year, the Independent published an article based on the findings of research conducted by UNICEF which analysed the policies on childcare and parental leave of the 41 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The findings showed that the UK ranked in the bottom 10 of the worst countries for maternity leave, coming up 34th on the table, and ranks 28th in the list of countries offering the best paternity leave. Our previous blog explains some of the maternity leave comparisons globally. The UK’s offer brings us behind our European counterparts such as France, Germany and Sweden.
In the UK, fathers are offered just two weeks’ statutory paternity leave at £148.68 per week. Compared to Japan that offers 6 months at full pay for fathers this seems inadequate. What is found is that there is often a low take up of paternity leave by fathers even in Japan where full pay is offered for half the year. Paternity Leave benefits not only fathers in developing a bond with their child, but it also contributes to healthy child development, lowers the likelihood of maternal depression and is a good way to increase gender equality.
As mentioned Japan and South Korea have some of the most generous policies when it comes to paternity leave. South Korea offers 52 weeks paternity leave. However very few fathers take up this opportunity. In the Philippines men can have up to 14 days paid leave whilst Myanmar and Thailand provide 15 days of paternity leave to fathers based on eligibility i.e. contributing social security contributions for at least 6 months and being a public servant.
Within Europe, Sweden offers the best paternity leave at 12 weeks and is also known for its generous parental scheme. Slovenia and Iceland also offer 12 weeks paternity leave to fathers.
In South Africa, fathers are entitled to 10 days of paternity leave after the birth of their child. Kenya, offers 2 weeks paternity leave. Mauritius offers 5 continuous working days of leave and a medical certificate must be presented to employers along with a written statement that they live with their spouse to be granted leave. Ethiopia also offers 5 days of leave but this is only in the case of a serious event and the leave is unpaid. Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast and Madagascar, Togo have paternity leave offered through a family allowance where fathers can take 10 days of paid paternity leave.
What do you think that China, United States, South Sudan and India all have in common? They are among 92 countries where a national policy does not exist to allow fathers to take time off to take care of their newborns. In the US whilst a national policy does not exist, a number have states have introduced paid leave policies.
As well as considering national laws within your country, it is also important to understand what additional benefits organisations will offer you as a new father. Some offers can go beyond what national law covers. For example, Netflix allows new parents to take as much paid parental leave as they like up to one year after the birth or adoption of a child. New parents that work at Facebook or Instagram are offered 17 weeks of paid parental leave which can also be spread throughout the course of a year. Spotify offers six months of fully-paid parental leave to all full-time employees globally. Lastly, Goldman Sachs announced that men and women would get the same fully-paid leave, of at least 20 weeks, whether they had become new parents through birth, surrogacy or adoption.
The tide appears to be changing with companies offering enhanced parental leave not just maternity leave particularly with the push from millennial men to be offered more. Sometimes the low uptake of paternity leave can be linked to financial considerations so it is important that countries and organisations see how they can make the playing field equal so both men and women can afford to take time off to take care of their children and establish those important bonds.