Finance Here's how much paid leave new mothers and fathers get in 11 different countries

  • Published: , Refreshed:

Business Insider has several editions worldwide, and we asked our international colleagues about the maternity-leave policies in their countries.

In some countries, such as Australia, market forces are pushing companies to increase their support for new parents as they look to recruit and retain talent. play

In some countries, such as Australia, market forces are pushing companies to increase their support for new parents as they look to recruit and retain talent.

(John Javellana/Reuters)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

The Trump administration earlier this year included a plan for paid parental leave in its 2018 budget proposal, with a stated goal of offering eligible workers six weeks of leave.

The proposal was a landmark: The US is one of eight the UN's 193-member states that do not already have a national program for paid parental leave. Questions remain whether the proposal will ever make it into policy, but its inclusion highlights a national and international conversation about paid leave.

Business Insider has several editions worldwide, and we asked our international colleagues about the parental-leave policies in their respective countries. Several of them, including Ghana and Singapore, are talking about extending leave periods, and in some other countries, such as Australia, market forces are pushing companies to increase their support for new parents as they look to recruit and retain talent.

Here's what parental leave is like in 11 countries.

Australia: There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months' maternity leave.

Australia: There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months' maternity leave. play

Australia: There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months' maternity leave.

(Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Time off before birth is not specified under law, but most women stop work a few weeks before their due date. There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months of maternity leave. New mums can also ask for an extra 12 months, for a range of factors, including if there are complications with health or in the family.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

The payment is $695 per week, for a maximum of 18 weeks. Almost all new mums — anyone on a salary of up to $150,000 per year — can access this. This includes small-business owners and one-person companies — for example, it applies to someone who provides a beautician service from home, even if that business is running at a loss. The qualifying criterion is that the person has been doing the same thing for 10 months of the 13 months before birth.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare in Australia is a major social issue, particularly in densely populated areas on the east coast. There is significant support for childcare: 50% of the cost is repaid by the federal government, though this isn't available to families on high incomes. The amount of government relief is capped at over $7,000 per year, a benefit aimed at encouraging people into work after the arrival of additions to the family.

Childcare can cost well in excess of $100 per day in some parts of the major cities. There's a shortage of childcare workers and childcare spaces in the major cities, and successive governments have wrestled with how to tackle it with varying levels of success. As a result, promises to include childcare benefits are a political weapon for the major political parties.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

Official statistics show that in 2011, over half (53%) of Australian mums had returned to work by the time their child was 2 years of age. For most, this was to part-time or reduced hours of work. It is a legal requirement that the role vacated for maternity leave is still available when a new mum is ready to return to work.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

New dads get two weeks off, at the national minimum wage of $695, as long as they earned an individual income of $150,000 or less. This ensures most dads get two weeks' paid leave at home.

While these are the legally required minimums, Australia for many years was the only OECD country beyond the US to have no legally mandated maternity leave. This was changed in 2011, with the introduction of maternity leave for at least 12 weeks at the national minimum wage. Parenting support is now a major source of competition in some major professional sectors, with more generous work-life balance and in-office childcare facilities being among major draw cards that companies offer to attract staff.

Paul Colgan, Business Insider Australia



Ghana: There are plans to extend maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks.

Ghana: There are plans to extend maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks. play

Ghana: There are plans to extend maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks.

(Watly)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

There are plans to extend the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks for mothers.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

The pay is the same as the salary on an employment contract and does not change.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Private companies might enlist employees in health-insurance programs to offset some of the cost of childcare. Childcare is expensive and could cost as much as a $1,000 a month.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

About 65%.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

As a father in Ghana, there is no paternity leave by law. But the Constitution Review Implementation Committee has proposed a statutory five-day paternity leave for male workers. In this review, the male worker will still be entitled to his salary.

—Godfred Akoto Boafo, Business Insider SSA Editor



India: Mothers get 26 weeks' leave.

India: Mothers get 26 weeks' leave. play

India: Mothers get 26 weeks' leave.

(AP/Saurabh Das)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Female employees can get paid maternity leave for 26 weeks. This benefit can be used by women for a period extending up to eight weeks before the expected delivery date and remaining 18 weeks can be availed after childbirth. But a woman with two or more children already is entitled to 12 weeks' maternity leave (that is, six weeks prenatal and six weeks postnatal expected date of delivery).

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

A mother is entitled to maternity benefits at the rate of her average daily wage for the period of her absence, for a maximum period of 26 weeks. The average daily wage means the average of the woman's wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself because of maternity.

There is a condition to this: The employee can claim maternity leave only if she has worked at least 80 days for her employer in the past 12 months. The company will pay full wages to her and not just the basic salary.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

There's no support toward childcare cost yet. But the recent amendment to India’s maternity law that has been passed this year and is effective April 1, 2017, onward, allows:

—A work-from-home option, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, female employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.

—Crèche (day nursery): The MB Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche four times during the day.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

There is no official data to suggest the exact percentage of women abandoning their career after childbirth, but a survey by industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry suggests that a quarter of women in India don’t return to work after having their babies. This is one of the most credible surveys for reference.

The challenge for India is different than other countries. According to a 2013 World Bank study, only 27% of the female population over 15 is working in India. This is the lowest rate of women's participation in any workforce.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

There is no provision on paternity leave in Indian labor law for private-sector workers. The civil servants (Central Government), however, are entitled to paternity leave. A male civil servant with less than two children is eligible for paternity leave for a period of 15 days before or up to six months from the date of delivery of the child. Paternity leave must be taken within six months of the birth of child. Workers on paternity leave are paid their leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.

—Anushree Singh, Business Insider India



Sweden: Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old.

Sweden: Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old. play

Sweden: Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old.

(Flickr/Kevin Krejci)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Swedish mothers can go on maternity leave starting seven weeks before the due date, and may prolong it up to seven weeks after the birth. They are afforded additional time off for parenting courses.

Fathers are entitled to 10 days of paid paternity leave in conjunction with delivery (20 in the case of twins). These days can be taken anytime within 60 days of the baby’s leaving the hospital.

Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old. They can choose to be paid during this time by taking from the paid parental leave quota of 480 days.

Mothers and fathers are entitled to 480 days (16 months) of paid parental leave (180 bonus days for twins) to split between themselves as they choose, though one parent cannot transfer more than 150 days onto the other.

The time off can be saved until the child is 8 years old. Legislation from 2014 states that new parents can save a total of 96 days after the child turns 4, and that these days can be used until the child turns 12. Parents with children under 8 are also legally provided with the right to work 32 hours a week instead of 40, if they so choose.

So, in theory, a parent (regardless of sex) could insist on being off work unpaid the first 18 months after the birth and after that they could be off work for another eight months based on paid parental leave (and up to another five months if they are granted the days of the other parent). That’s plenty of time to produce a new child to reset the allowance for time off and paid parental leave. With five properly spaced children a person could stay off work for a decade and have a legal right to reclaim their job afterward, and, if they felt like it, they could insist on working only four days a week for another six years.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

Parental leave pay is at sick-leave level for 390 of the total 480 days. If you have the average salary of $4,000, your parental-leave pay would be $2,600 (it’s actually 80% of regular pay for lower-income brackets). For the remaining 90 days of parental leave, the benefit is only $22 a day.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare costs are means-tested and capped at $150 per child per month, with the third child costing a maximum of $50 per month and consecutive children free of charge, according to The Guardian. On the other hand, parents get child support of $130 per month for each kid under 16, with a bonus which increases with a number of children you have. For example, if you have five kids you would get $650 per month plus a bonus of $350 and you would pay a maximum of $350 per month in childcare costs.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

Statistics Sweden found that in 1990 only about 20% women had returned to work 12 months after childbirth. Average parental leave in the Nordic countries is longer than in other European countries.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Mothers and fathers have 480 days to divide among themselves as they choose. At least 90 days must be kept by each parent, so a father could take a maximum of 390 days (13 months) of paid parental leave on top of the 18 months of unpaid time off allowed after the baby is born. An increasing proportion of the total days of paid parental leave are used by fathers. In 2013, 25% of the total parental-leave days were used by men.

—Vilhelm Carlström, BI Nordics



US: The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks' unpaid leave, but it doesn't apply to everyone.

US: The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks' unpaid leave, but it doesn't apply to everyone. play

US: The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks' unpaid leave, but it doesn't apply to everyone.

(Toby Melville/Reuters)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

The US doesn't have a law that specifically covers parental leave. There is another law, called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that may be used toward parental leave, though it does not apply to everyone. It provides up to 12 weeks and requires the employer to maintain employees' health benefits, but it's unpaid and comes with restrictions on who is eligible. It is, however, applicable to both men and women.

States have cobbled together their own policies, meanwhile, and some states may offer better benefits than what's available under the FMLA. Parental leave is also largely dependent on the policies decided by Americans' employers. Many companies offer none.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

There is no requirement for an employer to provide pay for parental leave.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Families can receive credits worth 25 to 30% of childcare costs, capped at $3,000 per child per year, with the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). Actual childcare costs, meanwhile, are much higher than what the tax credit covers.

The average cost of full-time care in childcare centers for all children age zero to 4 in the US is $9,589 a year, according to research from New America, a think tank. Childcare takes up a large share of Americans' paychecks.

“Nationally, the cost of full-time care in child care centers is 85 percent of the monthly US median cost of rent,” New America said in a report.

Some employers offer a dependent-care assistance plan. In that case, you can exclude up to $5,000 from taxable wages per year. This limit is reduced to $2,500 for married employees filing taxes separately, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

About 56% of employers say they provide this benefit, according to a 2016 "National Study of Employers."

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

From 2005 through 2007, 70% of women returned to work within a year of their first birth, according to US Census data; sixty percent returned within five months.

Meanwhile, 29% of moms don’t work outside of the home (as of 2012), up from a low of 23% in 1999, according to the Pew Research Center. “The share of stay-at-home mothers has risen since 2000 among married mothers with working husbands and single mothers,” says Pew.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

A father who falls under the FMLA can take up to 12 weeks off during the birth of a child and to care for a spouse who is incapacitated by the childbirth, according to the Department of Labor. But as noted above, not every American is covered by the FMLA.

With assistance from Emily Martin, the general counsel and vice president of workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.

—Rachael Levy, Business Insider



Singapore: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave.

Singapore: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave. play

Singapore: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave.

(Jirka Matousek/Flickr)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Working mothers are entitled to either 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave. This depends on whether the child is a Singapore citizen, among other conditions. This maternity leave can be taken starting four weeks before delivery.

Under a new three-year pilot announced this year, public-sector officers and their spouses will get an additional four weeks of unpaid infant-care leave per parent. The government will decide if this should be rolled out nationally after the pilot ends in 2020.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

Working mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave if their child is a Singapore citizen.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Depending on which option you go for, prices can vary drastically, ranging from S$700 a month for the more affordable childcare centers to over S$2,000 a month for the premium brands.

A basic subsidy of S$300 is provided by the government to all parents with children who are Singapore citizens in childcare centers licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency, but getting additional subsidy fluctuates according to the household-income level.

For families that have a combined monthly income of S$7,500 or less, this additional subsidy can cover up to 99% of the childcare fees.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

There are no statistics for this, unfortunately.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

In Singapore, working fathers (including those who are self-employed), are entitled to two full weeks of paid paternity leave, funded by the government.

Working fathers also have the option of using their shared paternity leave — wherein they can apply to share up to four weeks of their spouse's 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave, subject to agreement between both parties.

Business Insider Singapore



Japan: Childcare leave runs until the child reaches the age of 1.

Japan: Childcare leave runs until the child reaches the age of 1. play

Japan: Childcare leave runs until the child reaches the age of 1.

(Flickr/jamesjustin)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Mothers are able to leave six weeks before the expected due date (14 weeks, if expecting a twin). They are guaranteed a time off of eight weeks after giving birth. But they could return in six weeks if their doctor approves.

Japan also has childcare leave, which applies to both parents. This period begins after the guaranteed maternity leave mentioned earlier and runs until the child reaches the age of 1. This leave may be extended until the child reaches 14 months old, if both parents take leave, while it can extend to 18 months if only one parent takes leave.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

Typically, companies do not pay salary during leave. Instead, social insurance covers the employee’s salary during maternity leave and labor insurance covers the salary during the childcare leave.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

A parent will receive tw0-thirds of their base salary for the first six months of leave. After six months, the amount is reduced to 50%. If the father takes leave after the first six months along with the mother, both parents will receive tw0-thirds of their base salary for 14 months.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, in 2015, 31.8% of full-time employees returned to work within a year of giving birth.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Fathers are entitled to take 12 months off, just like mothers, and also receive compensation during the period. But only 2% of fathers eligible for leave took it in 2015.

—Shayna Olsan, BI Japan



The Netherlands: There's a minimum of 16 weeks' leave.

The Netherlands: There's a minimum of 16 weeks' leave. play

The Netherlands: There's a minimum of 16 weeks' leave.

(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

If you translate it literally, we have "pregnancy leave" and "delivery leave" in the Netherlands.

You can stop working six weeks in advance of your expected due date ("pregnancy leave"). If you’re feeling fine and want to work longer because you enjoy it, you can work until four weeks before your due date. This is required by the government. The days you didn’t take off in this two-week period you can add to your "delivery leave."

When you’ve delivered the baby, you have the right to 10 weeks' maternity leave ("delivery leave").

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

You will get the same salary as always. The company will receive a benefit from the government during your pregnancy and delivery leave. When you’re studying or receiving an unemployment benefit, the government will pay for your time off.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Yes. Depending on your income, you receive an allowance from the tax authorities if your child goes to registered childcare. Costs vary. The maximum daycare allowance you can get is 7.18 euros an hour. Most childcare costs about 7 or 8 euros an hour.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

According to the Dutch statistical office, CBS, 89% of the women returned to work within a year after childbirth in 2014-15.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

This is a point of discussion in the Netherlands. The partner has the right to two days paid time off, in which he or she also has to go to the local authority to register the baby. Further, the partner can take an additional three days time off without payment.

We’re in the middle of forming a new cabinet, but at the moment a majority of our House of Representatives want to extend paid paternity leave. Chances are something will change in the coming years.

Els van Asseldonk, BI Nederland



Italy: Every mother gets at least five months' maternity leave.

Italy: Every mother gets at least five months' maternity leave. play

Italy: Every mother gets at least five months' maternity leave.

(REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

In Italy, every mother-to-be stays home two months before the baby is due and three months after. In some cases, a woman can ask her doctor for authorization to work up until one month before the baby is due. This means that she will have one more month (four months) off after the birth. The five months are at 80% of the wage (but usually the company adds the remaining 20% so that you can obtain 100%) and mandatory. There are also two days mandatory, and fully paid, for the fathers.

After this time, there are 10 more months of voluntary parental leave shared between mothers and fathers (maximum six months for mothers and seven for fathers). It can become 11 if the father takes off at least three months (this period can be taken in a row or time to time). During voluntary parental leave you get 30% of your wage, but only for six months; the other months will be at no wage.

No company can refuse the voluntary leave, but you have to inform the company at least 15 days in advance. You can take the voluntary parental leave in the first 12 years of the child.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

The first five months are at 80% of the wage (but usually the company adds the remaining 20% so that you can obtain 100%), then you have other six months at 30% of your wage and then another four or five months at no wage.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

People who give up the whole voluntary parental leave will receive 600 euro a months for six months. There is some support toward childcare costs through tax exemptions. Health assistance is always guaranteed for free, but still childcare is quite expensive.

What percentage of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

The only official number provided by Istat is that the employment rate of mothers is 14 points lower than the employment rate of women with no kids.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Two days is mandatory and fully paid. The other six or seven months are shared with mothers.

—Giuliano Balestreri, Business Insider Italia



France: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave.

France: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave. play

France: Mothers get 16 weeks' leave.

(Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

French law provides expecting mothers with 16 weeks off, generally split into six weeks before birth and 10 after. Depending on one's personal situation and health, this can be shifted a little. If you already have two children, the 16 weeks is extended to 26 weeks: eight before birth, 18 weeks after. If you expect twins, you get 34 weeks (12 weeks before, 22 after).

If you expect triplets, you get 46 weeks (24 before, 22 after). Some industries or companies offer longer leaves than the typical 16 weeks.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

Maternity leave is paid for by public healthcare, or Sécurité sociale. If you're an employee and have worked for a sufficient amount of time, depending on your industry, it's a percentage of your salary up until 3,269 euros a month or 84.90 euros a day maximum. In banking, it's 100% of your salary.

If you're unemployed, it's about 50% of your last three paychecks. There are many other variations on this depending on whether you are, for instance, an artist, the wife of a baker, or working in healthcare.

If you extend your leave beyond the 16 legal weeks for "congé parental" (parental leave), this stops, but depending on your income and the number of children you already have, you can get some support from social security of about 400 euros monthly.

"Congé parental" leave lasts for a year and can be renewed twice if you had one or two children — until they turn three, and up to five times if you had three children or more — up until the sixth birthday.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Yes. Different organizations can support you based on income and other children already being supported. For example, the national Organisation can give about 130 euros, then the region can pay another 150, and you can get a tax break of 50% of the money spent paid for childcare services, with limits depending on the type of childcare you choose (such as public or private nanny).

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

According to a 2010 study, 80% of women were working or looking for a job within nine to 11 months after birth.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Paternity leave is 11 days for a simple birth and 18 days for multiple births, on top of three days off for the birth.

—Marie-Catherine Beuth, Business Insider France



Germany: Mothers can take up to three years' family leave.

Germany: Mothers can take up to three years' family leave. play

Germany: Mothers can take up to three years' family leave.

(Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Before: six weeks; after: eight weeks. This jumps to 12 weeks if more than one baby is born. This is a must. After that, you can work or you can take family leave. That would be up to three years, but only one year with 60% of your last pay. If the father takes also two months, the time you get paid increases to 14 months.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

Mothers receive 13 euros a day, plus 65% of their last pay.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare is taken care of in some Bundesländer [a German state], when the child is older than 2 years. If the child is younger, or in some Bundesländer in general, the parents have to pay a certain percentage of their pay. When they earn more money, the part of the pay for the childcare will be higher.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

About 43% of women return to work after the first two years.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

If the woman takes 12 months, a man can get two months' paid leave, but it is also possible that the man takes 12 months off and the woman two months after that.

—Matthias Olschewski, Business Insider Deutschland