Parental leave

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"Paternity leave" redirects here. It is not to be confused with the episode of Lost or the 2015 American film.
Demonstration for parental leave in the European Parliament.

Parental leave or family leave is an employee benefit available in almost all countries.[1] The term "parental leave" generally includes maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. In some countries and jurisdictions, "family leave" also includes leave provided to care for ill family members. Often, the minimum benefits and eligibility requirements are stipulated by law.

Unpaid parental or family leave is provided when an employer is required to hold an employee's job while that employee is taking leave. Paid parental or family leave provides paid time off work to care for or make arrangements for the welfare of a child or dependent family member. The three most common models of funding are social insurance/social security (where employees, employers, or taxpayers in general contribute to a specific public fund), employer liability (where the employer must pay the employee for the length of leave), and mixed policies that combine both social security and employer liability.[2]

Parental leave has been available as a legal right and/or governmental program for many years, in one form or another. In 2014, the International Labour Organization reviewed parental leave policies in 185 countries and territories, and found that all countries except Papua New Guinea have laws mandating some form of parental leave.[3] The United States and Lesotho, while they do mandate unpaid parental leave, are the only other countries that do not require employers to provide paid time off for new parents.

Private employers sometimes provide either or both unpaid and paid parental leave outside of or in addition to any legal mandate.

Economic models[edit]

Benefits of universal, paid parental leave[edit]

Capabilities approach[edit]

Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have developed an political model known as the Capabilities approach, where basic freedoms and opportunities are included in economic assessments of a country's well-being, in addition to GDP.[4][5] Nussbaum proposed 10 central capabilities as the minimum requirement for a decent society. In Nussbaum's model, states should provide the resources and freedoms to ensure people have the opportunity to achieve a minimum threshold of each central capability. Universal, paid parental leave is an example resource states can provide so people have the option of starting a family while also working; for instance, under capacity 10 (control of one's environment), the state has a responsibility to ensure all people have "the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others."[5]

Gender equality[edit]

Whether parental leave contributes to gender equality depends upon (a) whether laws consider a child to be the responsibility of both parents and (b) whether the leave is equal as to the sexes. An example of a law that does not consider fathers equally responsible is England's parental responsibility law, which is gender-neutral and equal, but baseline applies only to fathers married to the mother at the time of the birth and thus exempts fathers not married to the mother unless someone brings an action on behalf of the child. An equal leave policy would consider the father to be more responsible than the mother for child care after birth, as the time in the womb is counted solely to the mother; in such a policy, mothers would be expected to consume leave for pregnancy, delivery and early lactation that would be matched by time fathers take later in the child's life.

In a 2014 Swiss study, Lanfranconi & Valarino identified one of the important ways Switzerland has considered parental leave policies is related to gender equality, where parental leave "enabl[es] a more equal division of work between men and women by fostering paternal involvement in childcare."[6] Similarly, a 2015 study by Rønsen & Kitterød found that part of the effect of Norwegian parental leave policy "contributed to... a more equal division of paid and unpaid work among parents."[7]

The advancement of gender equality has also been on the political agenda of Nordic countries for decades. Although, all Nordic countries have extended the total leave period, their politics towards father’s quota are different. Iceland, Norway and Sweden have established equal 3 months quotas for the father. The only Nordic country that does not provide fathers with a quota is Denmark. However, the dual earner/dual care model seems to be the direction of all the Nordic countries are moving in the construction of their parental leave systems.[8]

Income and workforce[edit]

Paid parental leave incentivizes labor market attachment for women both before and after birth, affecting GDP and national productivity, as the workforce is larger.[9][10][11][12] Parental leave increases income at the household level, as well, by supporting dual-earner families.[13]

Paid parental leave incentivizes childbirth, which affects the future workforce. It is thus argued that paid parental leave, in contrast to unpaid parental leave, is harmful to children's welfare because in countries with an aging workforce or countries with Sub-replacement fertility, children are born not because the parents want the child and can meet the child's needs but because children are expected to support their parents. Some see children as responsible for supporting all those in older generations in the society (not just the child's specific parents); their earnings are expected not to be saved for the children's own old age, but to be spent on the earlier generations' demand for social security and pensions for which there was inadequate savings.[14][15]

Challenges of universal, paid leave[edit]

Child welfare concerns[edit]

Paid parental leave (in contrast to unpaid parental leave), like all welfare programs that relieve parents of the costs of raising children, incentivizes having children. This can present child welfare concerns when parents have children without being prepared to meet the child's needs.[citation needed] This harms the child's welfare, sometimes irreparably.[citation needed] Women have traditionally been paid to have children via certain legal structures in marriage, and men exempted from personal responsibility for their children, and some psychologists, such as Dorothy Dinnerstein and Alice Miller, have identified this as a structural harm to children that becomes "normalized", so that its roots are hidden.[citation needed] They see any payment to parents to have children as inevitably a disability imposed on the children that impairs their development.[citation needed]

Statistical discrimination[edit]

The neoclassical model of labor markets predicts that if the cost of hiring women of child-bearing years is anticipated to increase (either because the employer is mandated to pay for maternity leave, or because she will be absent from work on public leave), then the "demand" for women in the labor market will decrease. While gender discrimination is illegal, without some kind of remedy, the neoclassical model would predict "statistical discrimination" against hiring women of child-bearing years.[16][17]

Occupational sex segregation[edit]

If women take long parental leaves, the neoclassical model would predict that their lifetime earnings and opportunities for promotion will be less than their male or childfree counterparts, or the "motherhood penalty."[18] Women may seek out employment sectors that are "family-friendly" (i.e., with generous parental leave policies), resulting in occupational sex segregation.[19] Nielsen, Simonsen, and Verner examine what the different outcomes for women in Denmark are between the "family-friendly" and the "non-family-friendly" sector.[10] In Denmark, the public sector is "family-friendly" because of its generous leave and employee benefits; workers decide which sector to work on based on their preferences and opportunities. The study found that while in the "family-friendly" sector, there was basically no wage loss related to taking parental leave, women did have consistent earnings loss in the "non-family-friendly" private sector for a 1-year leave.[10]

Cost[edit]

Universal, paid parental leave can be privately funded (i.e., corporations are mandated to absorb the cost of paid parental time off as part of employee benefits) or publicly funded (i.e., transferred directly to workers on leave, like unemployment insurance). Concerns about private funding include the statistical discrimination described above as well as the costs to smaller businesses. Datta Gupta, Smith, & Verneer found in 2008 that, while publicly funded parental leave has benefits, it is very expensive to fund and question if it is the most cost-effective use of funds.[citation needed]

Source of Financing[edit]

Financing sources for "publicly" paid parental leave vary widely. In the programs in California and New Jersey, a payroll income tax is levied, exempting income earners who don't pay payroll taxes, such as those with passive income from stocks and bonds and sale of assets. The financing thus has a regressive effect, particularly requiring higher paid workers, such as college-educated workers, to finance the paid leave of workers on whom passive earners profit. In England, the employer is required to pay for the leave, which has been considered to cause employers to avoid hiring women. In England, while the parental responsibility law is gender-neutral and equal, only those fathers married to the mother have baseline responsibility, exempting some fathers from personal responsibility for their children so that they do not take parental leave.

Effects of parental leave[edit]

Typically, the effects of parental leave are improvements in prenatal and postnatal care, including a decrease in infant mortality.[20] The effects of parental leave on the labor market include an increase in employment, changes in wages, and fluctuations in the rate of employees returning to work. Leave legislation can also impact fertility rates.[21]

Effects on the labor market[edit]

A study in Germany found that wages decreased by 18 percent for every year an employee spends on parental leave.[21] However, after the initial decrease in wages, the employee’s salary rebounds faster than the salary of someone not offered parental leave.[21] A study of California’s leave policy, the first state in the U.S. to require employers to offer paid parental leave, showed that wages did increase.[22]

Parental leave can lead to greater job security.[21] Studies differ in how this helps return to work after taking time off. Some studies show that if a parent is gone for more than a year after the birth of a child, it decreases the possibility that he or she will return.[21] Other studies of shorter leave periods show that parents no longer need to quit their jobs in order to care for their children, so employment return increases.[22]

Length of leave[edit]

Family policy during World War II when women were recruited into the workplace.

In 2013, Joseph, Pailhé, Recotillet, and Solaz published a natural experiment evaluating a 2004 policy change in France.[23] They were interested in the economic effects of full-time, short paid parental leave. Before the reform, women had a mandatory two-month parental leave, and could take up to three years unpaid parental leave with their job guaranteed, though most women only took the two months. The new policy, complément libre choix d'activité (CLCA), guarantees six months of paid parental leave. The authors found positive effects on employment: compared to women in otherwise similar circumstances before the reform, first-time mothers who took the paid leave after the reform were more likely to be employed after their leave, and less likely to stay out of the labor force. The authors point to similar results of full-time, short paid parental leave observed in Canada in 2008 by Baker and Milligan,[24] and in Germany in 2009 by Kluve and Tamm.[25] However, Joseph, et al., also found that wages were lower (relative to women before the reform) for medium- and highly educated women after the leave, which could be because the women returned to work part-time or because of a "motherhood penalty," where employers discriminate against mothers, taking the six-month leave as a "signal" that the woman will not be as good of an employee because of her mothering responsibilities.

Rasmussen conducted regression analysis on a similar natural experiment in Denmark with a policy change in 1984 where parental leave increased from 14 to 20 weeks.[26] Rasmussen found the increased length of parental leave had no negative effect on women's wages or employment, and in the short-run (i.e., 12 months) it had a positive effect on women's wages, compared to the shorter leave. There was no difference on children's long-term educational outcomes before and after the policy change.

Paternity leave[edit]

While uncommon on a worldwide scale some countries do reserve parts of the paid leave for the father, meaning it can't be transferred to the mother and lapses unless he uses it. Among the earliest countries to actively push for increased usage of paternity leave are the Nordic welfare states - Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. These countries lack a unified concept of paternity leave, each imposing different conditions, ratios and timescales, but are regarded as among the most generous in the world, "Norwegian parental leave benefits". Partly in an initiative to combat the "Motherhood penalty," Norway initiated a policy change in the mid-2000s to incentivize paternal leave. The new policy, sometimes called the "daddy quota" in Nordic family policy entitles families to additional leave than they would otherwise be eligible for if the father takes at least 12 weeks of leave, since reduced to 10 weeks as of July 2014.[27] To evaluate this change, Rønsen & Kitterød looked at the rate and timing of women's return to work after giving birth, and the effect on this of the new parental leave policy. In their 2015 study, Rønsen & Kitterød found women in Norway returned to work significantly faster after the policy change.[28] However, public or subsidized daycare was greatly expanded at the same time, so Rønsen & Kitterød did not find that the "daddy quota" was solely responsible for the timing of work entry. But it can be understood to have an effect on division of household labor by gender when both parents can take time to care for a new baby.[citation needed]

Based on research of heterosexual couples, a better father’s immersion in the process of raising a child leads to an enhanced child’s development and furthermore improves the relationship between the two parents.[29] In recent years, various OECD countries drew attention to that topic, especially to the time of the parental leave taken by fathers. Short-term father’s leaves still lead to positive outcomes for the child’s development. However, due to the typically higher income-levels of men mother’s leaves are preferred to father’s leaves since the economic stability of the family is better secured.[30] Fathers tend to use less parental leave than mothers in the United States as well as in other countries where paid leave is available,[31][32] and this difference may have factors other than the financial constraints which impact both parents. Bygren and Duvander,[32] looking at the use of parental leave by fathers in Sweden, concluded that fathers’ workplace characteristics (including the size of the workplace, whether there were more men or women in the workplace, and whether the workplace was part of the private or public sector) influenced the length of parental leave for fathers, as did the presence of other men who had taken parental leave at an earlier point in time. As of 2016 paternity leave accounts for 25% of paid parental leave in Sweden.

Effects on prenatal and postnatal care[edit]

A Harvard report cited research showing paid maternity leave “facilitates breastfeeding and reduces risk of infection.”[20] This research also found that countries with parental leave had lower infant mortality rates.[20] The United States, which does not have a paid parental leave law, ranked 56th in the world in 2014 in terms of infant mortality rates, with 6.17 deaths per every 1,000 children born.[33] The research did not find any infant health benefits in countries with unpaid parental leave.

The same Harvard report also linked paid parental leave and a child’s psychological health. It found that parents with paid parental leave had more intense bonds with their children.[20]

While studies have shown conflicting results, some research has shown a link between paid parental leave and higher fertility rates. The research looked at women 25–34 years old, who are more likely to be affected by leave legislation. Fertility rates peaked for those between 25-29 and 30-34 across European countries.[21]

Effects on mothers[edit]

In the U.S., while the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows for unpaid parental leave, due to economic concerns, parents often do not utilize this eligibility to its fullest extent, and as a result, some studies show that the FMLA has had a limited impact on the leave-taking behavior of new parents.[31] Though specific amounts can vary, having a child (including the cost of high-quality childcare) costs families approximately $11,000 in the first year.[34] These financial issues contribute to new mothers in the United States returning to work quicker than new mothers in European countries; approximately one-third of women in the United States return to work within three months of giving birth, compared to approximately five per cent in the UK, Germany, and Sweden,[35] and just over half of mothers in the United States with a child under the age of one work.[36]

Effects on fathers[edit]

Biology and social values have historically not included child care in the main responsibilities of fathers. However, in some, mainly western, countries, politicians and social scientists argue for changing the role of the fathers, and the idea of the ‘new father’ has especially been shaped by the Nordic countries of Scandinavia. The process enables fathers to rationalize their parenting style and align this with what characterizes good care. Even though the mother’s role as main parent has not changed, male parental leave is claimed by its supporters to transform the traditionally gendered father practices and to create a social morality in relation to partners and children. Psychologists however consider that the allegedly positive effects of male parental leave are not supported by research, and warn that it might have negative effects. Norwegian psychology professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair believes the father's quota is indefensible from a psychological point of view, and argues that "we must at the very least ask ourselves what the consequences will be when we make a childhood environment that differs from what our species has evolved into." He believes the father's quota is "based on ideology, and only to an extremely limited extent on knowledge," arguing that it is "a social experiment, the effects of which are unknown."[37] It also has to be considered that fathers from different classes see their roles alternatively during their paternity leave. Whereas middle class fathers consider themselves as suitable alternative to the mother having the same competencies, working class men see themselves more as supporters during their leave. In consequence working class fathers mostly use their leave right after the mother returns to work, meanwhile working class fathers do their leave during the mothers leave.[38]

Private parental leave[edit]

Some businesses adopt policies that are favorable to workers and public opinion. In their study of maternity leave policies in the United States, Kelly and Dobbin found that public policy surrounding pregnancy as a temporary disability (for instance, California's Family Temporary Disability Insurance program) gave rise to business practices that included maternity leave as a benefit.[39]

Companies are starting to offer paid parental leave as a benefit to some American workers, seeing a profitable aspect of doing so, including: reduced turnover costs, increased productivity from workers, and increased rates of retention among women after childbirth. Some see the increase in paid parental leave as indicative of companies reaching out to women, as more women are working and returning to work after having children, and by doing so these companies generate positive publicity as employers with family-friendly workplaces.[34] Working Mother magazine [2] publishes a list of 100 Best Companies for working mothers each year, a list which is noted not only by the readership of the magazine, but also by corporate America and increasingly by researchers and policy institutes as well.[34] The Institute for Women’s Policy Research[3] issued a report in 2009 encouraging Congress to give federal workers four weeks of paid parental leave.[34] The report cited statistics from the Working Mother 100 Best Company list, using private sector corporations as examples of substantial increase in the retention of new mothers after instituting a longer maternity leave policy. The report also noted that it would take newer workers four years to accrue enough paid leave (sick leave and annual leave) to equal the 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave provided under the FMLA, and that private sector companies which offer paid parental leave have a significant advantage over the federal government in the recruitment and retention of younger workers who may wish to have children.

Variation in international law[edit]

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women introduces "maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances".[40] The Maternity Protection Convention C 183 adopted in 2000 by International Labour Organization requires 14 weeks of maternity leave as minimum condition.[41]

National laws vary widely according to the politics of each jurisdiction. As of 2012, only three countries do not mandate paid time off for new parents: Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and the United States.[42][43]

Unless otherwise specified, the information in the tables below is gathered from the most recent International Labour Organization reports. Maternity leave refers to the legal protection given to the mother immediately after she gives birth (but may also include a period before the birth), paternity leave to legal protection given to the father immediately after the mother gives birth, and parental leave to protected time for childcare (usually for either parent) either after the maternity/paternity leave or directly immediately after birth (for example when the parent is not eligible for maternity/paternity leave, and/or where the time is calculated until the child is a specific age - therefore excluding maternity/paternity leave - usually such jurisdictions protect the job until the child reaches a specific age. [44]) Others allow the parental leave to be transferred into part-time work time. Parental leave is generally available to either parent, except where specified. Leave marked "Unpaid" indicates the job is protected for the duration of the leave. Different countries have different rules regarding eligibility for leave, and long a parent has to have worked at their place of employment prior to giving birth before they are eligible for paid leave. In the European Union, the policies vary significantly by country - with regard to length, to payment, and to how parental leave relates to prior maternity leave - but the EU members must abide by the minimum standards of the Pregnant Workers Directive and Parental Leave Directive.[45]

Africa[edit]

Country Maternity leave (weeks) Maternity leave

(% of pay)

Paternity leave (weeks) Paternity leave (% of pay) Parental leave [For EITHER parent] (weeks) Parental leave (% of pay) Source of payment
Algeria 14[46] 100% <1[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Angola 13[46] 100% 0[47] N/A 0[47] N/A Social security
Benin 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Botswana 12[46] 50% 0[47] N/A 0[47] N/A Employer liability
Burkina Faso 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 52[47] Unpaid Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Burundi 12[46] 100% 2+[47] 50% 0[47] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Cameroon 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Cape Verde 09[46] 90% 0[47] N/A 0[47] N/A Social security
Central Africa Republic 14[46] 50% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Chad 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 52[47] Unpaid Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Comoros 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Employer liability
Congo 15[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Côte d’Ivoire 14[46] 100% 2[47] 100% 0[47] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Democratic Republic of the Congo 14[46] 67% <1[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Djibouti 14[46] 100% <1[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Egypt 13[46] 100% 0[48] N/A 104 (only mothers)[48] Unpaid Mixed (75% social security; 25% employer liability)
Equatorial Guinea 12[46] 75% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Social security
Eritrea 09[46] Unk 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Ethiopia 13[46] 100% 1[48] Unpaid 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Gabon 14[46] 100% 2[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Gambia 12[46] 100% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Ghana 12[46] 100% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Guinea 14[46] 100% 0[48] N/A 38 (only mothers)[48] Unpaid Mixed (50% social insurance; 50% employer)
Guinea-Bissau 09[46] 100% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Mixed (social security flat rate, employer pays the difference to equal wage)
Kenya 13[49] 100% 2[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Lesotho 12[49] 100% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Libya 14[49] 50% (100% for self-employed women) <1[48] 0[48] N/A Employer (social security for self-employed)
Madagascar 14[49] 100% 2[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Malawi 08[49] 100% 0[48] N/A 0[48] N/A Employer liability
Mali 14[49] 100% <1[48] 100% 0[48] N/A Social security
Mauritania 14[49] 100% 2[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Mauritius 12[49] 100% 1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Employer liability
Morocco 14[49] 100% <1[50] 100% 52 (only mothers)[50] Unpaid Social security
Mozambique 09[49] 100% <1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Namibia 12[49] 100% (up to a ceiling) 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Social security
Niger 14[49] 100% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Mixed (50% social insurance; 50% employer)
Nigeria 12[49] 50% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Employer liability
Rwanda 12[49] 100% for 6 weeks; 20% remainder <1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Employer liability
Sao Tome and Principe 09[49] 100% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Social security
Senegal 14[49] 100% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Social security
Seychelles 14[49] Flat rate for 12 weeks; unpaid remainder <1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Sierra Leone 12[49] 100% Employer liability
Somalia 14[49] 50% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Employer liability
South Africa 17[49] 60% <1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Sudan 08[49] 100% 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Employer liability
Swaziland 12[49] 100% for 2 weeks; unpaid remainder 0[50] N/A 0[50] N/A Employer liability
Tanzania 12[49] 100% <1[50] 100% 0[50] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Togo 14[49] 100% 2[51] 100% 0[51] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)
Tunisia 04[49] 66.70% <1[51] 100% 0[51] N/A Social security
Uganda 10[52] 100% <1[51] 100% 0[51] N/A Employer liability
Zambia 12[52] 100% 0[51] N/A 0[51] N/A Employer liability
Zimbabwe 14[52] 100% 0[51] N/A 0[51] N/A Employer liability

Americas[edit]

Country Maternity leave (weeks) Maternity leave (% of pay) Paternity leave (weeks) Paternity leave (% of pay) Parental leave [For EITHER parent] (weeks) Parental leave (% of pay) Source of payment
Antigua and Barbuda 13[53] 100% for 6 weeks; 60% for 7 weeks 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Mixed (60% social security all 13 weeks plus 40% from employer for first 6 weeks)
Argentina 13[53] 100% <1[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Bahamas 13[53] 100% for 12 weeks; 66.7% for 1 week <1[54] Unpaid 0[54] N/A Mixed (2/3 social security for 13 weeks; 1/3 employer for 12 weeks)
Barbados 12[55] 100% 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Social security
Belize 14[55] 100% 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Social security
Bolivia 13[55] 95% 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Social security
Brazil 17[55] 100% <1[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
British Virgin Islands 13[55] 67% Social security
Canada 15[56] 55% / Up to 80% for low-income families (Up to maximum of $524 per week)[56] 0 N/A 35[56] 55% / Up to 80% for low-income families (Up to maximum of $524 per week)[56] Social security
Chile 24[57] 100% (up to a ceiling) 1[54] 100% 12 (6 only for mothers)[54] 100% (up to a ceiling) Social security
Colombia 14[55] 100% 1+[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Social security
Costa Rica 17[55] 100% 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Mixed (50% social security, 50% employer)
Cuba 18[55] 100% 0[54] N/A 39[54] 60% Social security
Dominica 12[55] 60% 0[54] N/A 0[54] N/A Social security
Dominican Republic 12[55] 100% <1[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Mixed (maternity: 50% social security, 50% employer; paternity: employer liability)
Ecuador 12[55] 100% 2[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Mixed (maternity: 75% social security, 25% employer; paternity: employer liability)
El Salvador 12[55] 75% <1[54] 100% 0[54] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Grenada 13[55] 100% for 8 weeks; 65% for remainder 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Mixed (65% social security all 13 weeks plus 35% from employer for first 8 weeks)
Guatemala 12[55] 100% <1[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Mixed (maternity: 2/3 social security, 1/3 employer; paternity: employer)
Guyana 13[55] 70% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Social security
Haiti 12[55] 100% for 6 weeks; unpaid remainder 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Employer liability
Honduras 12[55] 100% for 10 weeks; unpaid remainder 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Mixed (2/3 social security, 1/3 employer)
Jamaica 12[55] 100% for 8 weeks; unpaid remainder 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Employer liability
Mexico 12[55] 100% 1[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Social security
Nicaragua 12[55] 100% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Mixed (60% social security, 40% employer)
Panama 14[55] 100% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Social security
Paraguay 12[55] 50% for 9 weeks; unpaid remainder <1[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Peru 13[55] 100% <1[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Puerto Rico 08[55] 100% <1[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Employer liability
Saint Kitts and Nevis 13[59] 65% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Social security
Saint Lucia 13[59] 65% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Social security
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 13[59] 65% Social security
Trindad and Tobago 13[59] 100% 0[58] N/A 0[58] N/A Mixed (2/3 social security, 1/3 employer)
Uruguay 12[59] 100% <1[58] 100% Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
United States of America 0[60] N/A 0[61] N/A 12 each[61] Unpaid N/A
Venezuela 26[59] 100% 2[58] 100% 0[58] N/A Social security

Asia / Pacific[edit]

Australia has introduced an 18-week paid parental leave scheme which is publicly funded and provides the National Minimum Wage rather than a percentage of the primary caregiver's salary. It is not be available to families where the primary caregiver has an annual salary above $150,000 per annum.[62]

Country Paid maternity leave Paid paternity leave Unpaid maternity leave Unpaid paternity leave Restrictions
Afghanistan 90 days 100%
Azerbaijan 126 days 100%
Australia 18 weeks at National Minimum Wage (currently AUD$656.90 per week as at July 2015) subject to primary caregiver income 2 weeks at National Minimum Wage Up to 52 weeks unpaid shared between the parents Up to 3 weeks of unpaid leave The 52 weeks are shared between the parents and all leave needs to be taken before the baby's first birthday. Australian maternity leave is means tested, whereby no payments are available to families where the primary caregiver has an annual salary above $150,000 per annum.
Bahrain 60 days 100%
Bangladesh 16 weeks (8 weeks before delivery and 8 weeks after delivery) 100% In case of third (+) time mother, who has two or more babies alive already.
Cambodia 90 days 50% 10 days special leave for family events
China 98 days 100%
Fiji 84 days Flat rate
Hong Kong 10 weeks 80% 3 days 80%
India 12 weeks 100%. Up to 15 days male leave. Does not apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.[63] Prohibits employers from allowing women to work within six weeks after giving birth.[64] A female employee is eligible only if she worked for the employer at least 80 days during the 12-month period preceding the date of expected delivery.[65] In the case of a stillbirth or miscarriage, six weeks of paid leave is required instead.[65] Female employees of the Central Government of India receive 180 days of leave.[66] In December 2015, the government announced that it would increase the duration of maternity leave for women in the private sector to 26 weeks.[67]
Indonesia 3 months 100% Two days' paid when wife gives birth
Iran 6 months 100% 2 weeks compulsory 100%
Iraq 62 days 100%
Israel 14 weeks 100%. The weeks from 6th to 14th can be taken by the father. Can take the paid leave instead of the mother starting from the 6th week (up to 14 weeks) 1 year
Japan 14 weeks 60% 1 year 1 year When parents take turns, the total period may be extended 2 months (but no longer than 1 year for each parent).[68]
Jordan 10 weeks 100%
Korea, Republic of 90 days 100% 1 year (40% of Original Salary, At least $400 At most $1,000 per a month paid by Employment Insurance) until the child is 6 years old Parents who have a child under 6 years old can get 1 year parental leave. The only condition that the employee(s) must satisfy is to have worked for at least 1 year in the company at the time the child is born.
Kuwait 70 days 100%
Lao People's Democratic Republic 3 months 70%
Lebanon 10[69] weeks 100% 1 day 100%
Malaysia 60 days 100%
Mongolia 120 days 70%
Myanmar 12 weeks 66.7% Six days of "casual leave" that can be used by fathers to assist their spouses at the time of confinement
Nepal 52 days 100%
New Zealand 18 weeks, 100% or NZ$516.85 per week[70] (whichever is lower). May start up to 6 weeks prior to birth; can be shared with father. None, plus any share from mother 52 weeks (including paid leave). Can be shared with father. 2 weeks, plus any share from mother If the mother is ordered to start leave early by a doctor, midwife or their employer, maternity leave may be extended beyond 18 weeks to the difference between the date of the order and the expected delivery date, plus 10 weeks.
Oman 14 weeks, 100%; 50 days prior to and 50 days after birth (per Omani Labor Law, Royal Decree No. 35/2003, 26 April 2003).[71]
Pakistan 45 days prior to confinement and 45 days after the confinement under rule 13 of the Revised Leave Rules, 1980. But it is 60 days for Armed Forces Nursing Service (AFNS)100%
Papua New Guinea 0 days 12 weeks
Philippines 60 days 100%, applicable also to miscarriages. 78 days 100% for C-section delivery. 7 days 100% parental leave per year for solo parents until the child is 18, or indefinitely if the child has a disability. Seven days paid paternity leave for married workers. 7 days 100% parental leave per year for solo parents until the child is 18, or indefinitely if the child has a disability. Maternity and paternity leave benefits are up to the 4th pregnancy only.
Qatar 50 days 100% for civil servants
Saudi Arabia 10 weeks 50% or 100% One day
Singapore 16 weeks 100% (Singaporean citizen) or 12 weeks 67% (non-Singaporean citizen)[72] 1 week of 100% Government-Paid Paternity Leave for fathers. 1 week of 100% Government-Paid Shared Parental Leave to allow fathers to share 1 week of the working mother’s maternity leave entitlement.[73] 16 weeks of Maternity Leave is restricted to married women whose children are Singapore citizens (at least one parent is a Singapore citizen) and has served her employer for at least 90 days before the child's birth.[72]
Solomon Islands 12 weeks 25%
Sri Lanka 12 weeks 100% (84 working days), 84 days 50% 03 days 100% 84 days
Syrian Arab Republic 50 days 70%
Taiwan 8 weeks 100% for more than six months of employment or 50% for less six months of employment 5 days 100%
Thailand 90 days 100% for 45 days paid by employer, then 45 days paid at 50% of wages (to a maximum of 7,500 baht per month) by the Thailand Social Security Fund
United Arab Emirates 45 Days 100% 55 days (total 100 days maternity leave) Maternity leave at 100% pay is subject to the employee having served continuously for not less than one year. The maternity leave shall be granted with half pay if the woman has not completed one year.
Vietnam 4–6 months 100%
Yemen 60 days 100%

Europe and Central Asia[edit]

Country Maternity leave

(weeks)

Maternity leave

(% of pay)

Paternity leave (weeks) Paternity leave

(% of pay)

Parental leave [For EITHER parent] (weeks) Parental leave

(% of pay)

Source of payment
Albania 52[53] 80% for 21 weeks; 50% remainder 0[74] N/A 2[74] 100% Mixed (Social security for maternity leave; employer liability for parental leave)
Andorra 16[75] 100% 0[76] N/A 0[76] N/A Social security
Armenia 20[53] 100% 0[74] N/A 156[74] Unpaid Social security
Austria 16[75] 100% 0[76] N/A 104[76] Flat rate Social security
Azerbaijan 18[53] 100% 2[74] Unpaid 156[74] Flat rate Social security
Belarus 18[53] 100% 0[74] N/A 156[74] 80% of minimum wage Social security
Belgium 15[75] 82% for 4 weeks; 75% for remainder (up to ceiling) 2[77] 100% for 3 days; 82% remainder 17[77] Flat rate Mixed (3 days paternity leave employer liability; Social security)
Bosnia and Herzegovina 52[53] 50%-100% 1+[74] 100% 156[74] Unpaid Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Bulgaria 32[75] 90% 2[77] 90% 26[77] 90% Social security
Croatia 58[53] 100% for 26 weeks; flat-rate remainder 2[74] 100% 156[74] Unpaid Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Cyprus 18[75] 75% 0[77] N/A 13[77] Unpaid Social security
Czech Republic 28[75] 70% 0[77] N/A 156[77] Flat rate Social security
Denmark 18[75] 100% 2[77] 100% 32[77] 100% Mixed (social security & employer)
Estonia 62[78] 100% 2[77] 100% 36[77] Unpaid Social security
Finland 18[75] 70% 11[77] 70% (up to a ceiling) plus 26[77] 70% Social security
France 16[75] 70% 2+[77] 100% (up to a ceiling) 156[77] Flat rate Social security
Georgia 18[53] 100% 50[citation needed] Social security
Germany 14[75] 100% 0[79] N/A 156[79] 67% (up to a ceiling) for 52 weeks; unpaid remainder Mixed (social security & employer liability)
Greece 17[75] 100% <1[79] 100% 17 each[79] Unpaid Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Hungary 24[75] 70% 1[79] 100% 156[79] 70% (up to a ceiling) for 104 weeks; flat rate remainder Social security
Iceland 13[75] 80% 12[79] 80% (up to a ceiling) 26 each[79] 80% (up to a ceiling) for first 13 weeks each; unpaid remainder
Ireland 42[60] 80% (up to a ceiling) for 26 weeks; unpaid remainder 0[79] N/A 18 each[80] Unpaid Social security
Italy 22[60] 80% <1[79] 100% 26 each[79] 30% Social security
Kazakhstan 18[53] 100% 1[74] Unpaid 156[74] Unpaid Social security
Kyrgyzstan 18[53] 7x minimum wage Social security
Latvia 16[60] 80% 2[79] 80% 78 each[79] 70% Social security
Liechtenstein 20[81] 80%
Lithuania 18[60] 100% 4[82] 100% (up to a ceiling) 156[82] 100% for 52 weeks or 70% for 104 weeks; unpaid remainder Social security
Luxembourg 16[60] 100% <1[82] 100% 26 each[82] Flat rate Mixed (employer liability paternity leave; social security remainder)
Macedonia 39[53] 100% Social security
Malta 18[60] 100% for 14 weeks 0[82] N/A 13 each[82] Unpaid Mixed (social security & employer liability)
Moldova 18[53] 100% 0[83] N/A 156[83] Partially Social security
Monaco 16[60] 90% (up to a ceiling) 0[82] N/A 0[82] N/A Social security
Montenegro 52[53] 100% Social security
Netherlands 16[60] 100% (up to a ceiling) <1[82] 100% 26 each (with part-time work)[82] Unpaid but eligible for tax-breaks Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Norway 35 (or 45)[60] 100% for 25 weeks or 80% for 45 weeks 0-10 (depending on the mother's tax contribution in Norway for the preceding three years[84]) 100% or 80% 36 or 46 (10 for mothers; 10 for fathers; 26 to be divided)[85] 100% for 46 weeks or 80% for 56 weeks (up to a ceiling) Social security
Poland 26[60] 100% 2[82] 100% 156[82] 60% for 26 weeks; flat rate for 104; unpaid remainder Social security
Portugal 17 (or 21)[60] 100% for 17 weeks or 80% for 21 3[82] 100% 13 each; "sharing bonus" of 4 weeks if initial leave shared[82] 25% Social security
Romania 18[60] 85% 1 (or 2)[61] 100% 52-104[61] 75% (up to ceiling)+incentive for 52 weeks; 75% (up to different ceiling) for 104 weeks[86] Social security
Russia 20[53] 100% (up to a ceiling) 0[83] N/A 156[83] 40% (up to a ceiling) for 78 weeks; unpaid remainder Social security
Serbia 20[53] 100% 1+[83] 100% 52 (only mothers)[83] 100% for 26 weeks; 60% weeks 27-39; 30% weeks 40-52 Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)
Slovakia 34[60] 65% 0[61] N/A 156[61] Flat rate Social security
Slovenia 15[60] 100% 12[61] 100% (up to a ceiling) for 2 weeks; flat rate remainder 37[61] 90% (up to a ceiling) Social security
Spain 16[60] 100% 2[61] 100% (up to a ceiling) 156 each[61] Unpaid Social security
Sweden 18[87] 80% (up to a ceiling) 18[87] 80% (up to a ceiling) 60[87] 80% (up to a ceiling) for 42 weeks; flat rate for remainder Social security
Switzerland 14[60] 80% (up to a ceiling) 0[61] N/A 0[61] N/A Social security
Tajikistan 20[53] 100% 0[83] N/A 156[83] Flat rate for 78 weeks; unpaid remainder Social security
Turkey 16[53] 66.70% 0[83] N/A 26 (only mothers)[83] Unpaid Social security
Turkmenistan 16[53] 100% Social security
Ukraine 18[53] 100% 0[83] N/A 156[83] Flat rate for 78 weeks; childcare allowance remainder Social security
United Kingdom 52[60] 90% for 6 weeks; 90%/flat rate for 32 weeks; unpaid remainder 2[61] 90% or flat-rate (whichever is less) 13 each[61] Unpaid Mixed (employers reimbursed)
Uzbekistan 18[53] 100% 0[83] N/A 156[83] 20% of minimum wage for 104 weeks; unpaid remainder Social security

Parental leave policies in the United Nations[edit]

As international organizations are not subject to the legislation of any country, they have their own internal legislation on parental leave.

Organization Paid maternity leave Paid paternity leave Unpaid maternity leave Unpaid paternity leave Restrictions
United Nations[88] 16 weeks 100% (however, no fewer than 10 weeks must be after delivery, even if the pre-delivery leave was longer due to a late birth) 4 weeks 100% (or 8 weeks for staff members serving at locations where they are not allowed to live with their family) The fact that a staff member is or will be on parental leave cannot be a factor in deciding contract renewal. To ensure that this is enforced, if a contract ends while the staff member is on parental leave, the contract must be extended to cover the duration of such leave.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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