maternity benefits

Top Countries Offering the Best Maternity Leave Policies

Top Countries Offering the Best Maternity Leave Policies

Maternity leave is perhaps one of the best policies taken for the welfare of working new moms and to-be moms. It is a paid leave from work offered by employers to working moms for a period before and after childbirth. According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 120 countries all over the world including the most industrialized nations provide paid maternity leaves and health benefits by law except for a few countries like the USA. Some employers even have the liberty to offer mothers an extension in their leaves.

According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that looked at maternity leave in 42 countries throughout the world, most industrialized countries pay new mothers at least half of their former salary during their time off. The OECD, a 35-member organization dedicated to democracy and the market economy, examined policies in existence as of April 2016.

Some countries also offer Paternity leaves to new fathers. However, we will be focussing on just maternity leave policies across the world. On average, the OECD countries, most of which are developed with a healthy economy, provide around 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, the only exception being the US which offers zero weeks of paid maternity leave. 

Afraid of career setbacks? Are you worried that you may not be valued enough by your boss and co-workers when you get back to work? If yes, we absolutely understand and relate to what you must have been going through. But trust us, your career will be completely back on track when you return and you, like always, will nail in your work. So now, without any guilt feeling, focus wholeheartedly on your baby, and utilize your leave. You have already been through a lot - nine long months of being pregnant, the painful labor, and now breastfeeding and other duties pertaining to baby care. Now imagine going to work while doing all these duties at the same time? Is it sounding very comforting? No, right? You need that rest. And the law has granted you the right to take a rest. Remember, the lawmakers have incorporated the benefit in the lawbook for a reason. So, relax and enjoy your leave!    

Countries With The Best Maternity Leave Policies

Here, we have enlisted the top countries that offer the best and the most sensible maternity leave policies to their moms. Have a look.

1. Bulgaria

According to OECD, Bulgaria provides moms with a paid maternity leave of 58.6 weeks, which is more than a year. They pay 78.4% of the mom’s previous full-term salary which is equivalent to almost the full-time pay of 45.9 weeks. The leave begins 45 days prior to the birth of the child by law. The moms get 42 days of leave after birth, regardless of the survival of the baby. Mothers are also entitled to a paid maternity leave, if they want to take, till the child gets 2. Lucky moms of Bulgaria!

2. Greece

Greece offers new moms 43 weeks of maternity leave with a payment of 54.2% of their former salary which is equal to 23.3 weeks of full-time pay. The payment is made in a combination of employer and social security funding. The country offers 8 weeks of leave prior to the birth and nine weeks post-birth for basic maternity leave, equating to a total of 17 weeks. Additionally, moms are allowed to take a leave of up to 43 weeks in total by reducing daily work hours over several months.

3. Slovakia

Slovakia, officially the Slovak Republic, promises new mothers 34 weeks of paid leave at a 70% payment rate, equating to 23.8 fully compensated weeks. Mothers are entitled to 6 to 8 weeks of prenatal leave, and 26-28 weeks of post-natal leave. For single mothers, the leave is extended to 37 weeks, and to 43 weeks for multiple births.

4. The United Kingdom

The UK promises its mothers a paid maternity leave of an entire year but only with a payment of 30.9% of the former pay for the first 39 weeks. This is equal to 12.1 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave. For the first six weeks at least, the moms are promised 90% of their average weekly income. The rest is compensated at a rate of whichever is lower - 90% of their salary or the minimum statutory payment of 151.97 pounds per day.

5. Croatia

This country is also on the higher end of the spectrum and offers 30 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. The leave begins 28 days before birth and continues till 6 months after birth. Compulsory leave starts 28 days prior to birth in case of healthy pregnancies, and 45 days prior in case of pregnancy complications. This compulsory leave lasts for at least 70 days post-birth.

6. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic pays the new mothers 62.6% of their salary for 28 weeks, equating to 17.5 weeks of full-time payment. In the case of multiple births, the moms are entitled to 37 weeks of maternity leave. The maternity leave would typically begin at the beginning of the sixth week prior to the projected due date, but no sooner than the beginning of the eighth week prior to that day.

7. Hungary

As a new mother, you will receive 27 weeks of leave with a 70% pay equating to a full-time 16.8 weeks of paid leave. For another year, the child's parents or caregivers are eligible for a Child Home Care Allowance to assist them to meet their basic needs.

8. Ireland

Mothers in Ireland get 26 weeks of paid maternity leave but only with a 34.3% pay, which sums to around 8.9 weeks of a full-time salary.

9. Italy

Italian mothers are guaranteed 21 weeks of paid maternity leave with 80% payment equating to a full-time pay of 17.4 weeks. According to Spanish legislation, a working father must take a mandatory 7-day fully paid leave after the birth of a child, which can be extended if the mother is unable to care for the baby.

10. Germany

In Germany, mothers are guaranteed a fully paid maternity leave for 14 weeks which is good. The leave begins 6 weeks before the birth of the child and lasts till 8 weeks after the date of birth. The leave is entitled to an extension if the mom gives birth to twins or triplets. The moms get 67% of the employees’ average monthly income, an amount that may be increased if the concerned mother has another child below the age of 3.

11. Australia 

Australian moms are entitled to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave at a rate of 42% of their previous salary, which equates to around 7.5 weeks of full-time pay.

12. Norway

Norwegian moms are entitled to 13 weeks of paid leave and are paid nearly their full income — 97.9%. This would equate to 12.7 fully paid weeks, which is significantly fewer.

India and its Maternity Leave Policy

The first Maternity Act came into being in 1961 and is also called Maternity Leave Benefit Act 1961. The Maternity (Amendment) Bill 2017, enacted by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and the Lok Sabha in March 2017, has made a number of important amendments to the statute. The act has brought about a few necessary and mention-worthy changes which are as follows: 

  • The period of leave has been extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. 
  • Moms with two babies will continue to be entitled to a paid leave of 12 weeks. 
  • Moms adopting a baby below 3 months will be promised a maternity leave of 12 weeks. 
  • If an employer has more than 50 employees, they are required to provide a creche facility.
  • Depending on the nature of the job, working mothers will be allowed to work from home.
  • In addition to the 26 weeks of paid vacation and 12 weeks of paid leave for a mother of two, a medical bonus of Rs. 3500 is offered.
  • The National Food Security Act of 2013 offers a stipend of Rs. 6000/- to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. 

So moms, go and talk to your boss or the HR department and ask them about the office policies on maternity leave. Getting maternity leave is your right, which is granted by the law. Make the most of it.  

USA and its Maternity Leave Policy

Sadly, no federal law in the USA offers its moms paid maternity leave. Instead, they leave it up to employers, with more than 40% of medium-to-large businesses opting out of providing any paid maternity leave at all, according to a 2016 study of medium-to-large businesses.

Some companies, though, make it a point to provide paid time off. According to Business Insider, Netflix, for example, provides employees with a full year of paid time off following the birth of their child. This includes birth and adoptive parents irrespective of gender. However, several states, including California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and the non-state District of Columbia, have developed their own plans to provide paid maternity leave.

Summary

Maternity leave policies vary. The policies have definitely contributed to the well-being of the mothers whether the policies are favorable or not. They have given women the opportunity to shine in their careers even after being a mom contrary to earlier times when women used to leave jobs before giving birth or after having a baby. It has provided mothers a chance to remain economically independent, and also contribute to the economy of the nation.  

Even according to research, paid maternity leave is beneficial to individuals, businesses, and the economy. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, it maintains women in the workforce and reduces their need for government support.


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Hi, I am Ekta Dharap, a mom of a tiny tod. I have learnt that to take optimum care of your little one, it's imperative to first take care of your own wellness and well-being. Besides, our children look up to us, and how we treat ourselves. This makes putting self care as top priority, without an ounce of guilt.

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