Parental leave or family leave is an employee benefit available in almost all countries. The term "parental leave" generally includes maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. A distinction between "maternity leave" and "parental leave" is sometimes made- maternity leave as the mother's leave time directly before and after childbirth and parental leave being the time given to care for newborns. 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.
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. A different study showed that of 186 countries examined, 96% offered some pay to mothers during leave, but only 81 of those countries offered the same for fathers. The United States, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, and several island countries in the Pacific Ocean are the only 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.
Benefits of universal, paid parental leave
Jeremiah Carter and Martha Nussbaum have developed a 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. Nussbaum proposed 11 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."
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 and Norway have established equal 3 month quotas for the father. In Sweden 90 days cannot be transferred from one parent to the other—i.e. each parent gets at least 90 days of parental leave, thus the quota applies equally to both parents and is not specific fathers. 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.
Income and workforce
Paid parental leave incentivizes labor market attachment for women both before and after birth, affecting GDP and national productivity, as the workforce is larger. Parental leave increases income at the household level, as well, by supporting dual-earner families.
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.
Challenges to universal, paid leave
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.
Occupational sex segregation
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." Women may seek out employment sectors that are "family-friendly" (i.e., with generous parental leave policies), resulting in occupational sex segregation. Nielsen, Simonsen, and Verner examine what the different outcomes for women in Denmark are between the "family-friendly" and the "non-family-friendly" sector. 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.
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.
Criticism of the 'Father Quota'
Social norms 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. 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. Some, 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.". Other psychological perspectives summarise evidence and find that the role of a father in child development is very similar to that of a mother, which conflicts with the idea that greater paternal involvement in childcare could lead to subtantial and potentially dangerous consequences. 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 middle class fathers mostly use their leave right after the mother returns to work, meanwhile working class fathers do their leave during the mother's leave.
Effects of parental leave
Typically, the effects of parental leave are improvements in prenatal and postnatal care, including a decrease in infant mortality. 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.
Effects on the labor market
A study in Germany found that wages decreased by 18 percent for every year an employee spends on parental leave. However, after the initial decrease in wages, the employee’s salary rebounds faster than the salary of someone not offered parental leave. 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.
Parental leave can lead to greater job security. 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. 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.
It does not appear that parental leave policies have had a significant effect on the gender wage gap, which has remained relatively steady since the late 1980s, despite increasing adoption of parental leave policies.
Maternity leave and its effects
In the U.S., while the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows for unpaid parental leave, parents often do not utilize this eligibility to its fullest extent as it is unaffordable. As a result, some studies show that the FMLA has had a limited impact on how much leave new parents take. Though specific amounts can vary, having a child (including the cost of high-quality childcare) costs families approximately $11,000 in the first year. These high costs 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, and just over half of mothers in the United States with a child under the age of one work.
There is some evidence that legislation for parental leave raises the likelihood of women returning to their previous jobs as opposed to finding a new job. This rise is thought to fall to between 10% and 17%. Simultaneously, there is a decrease in the percentage of women who find new jobs which falls between 6% and 11%. Thus, such legislation appears to increase how many women return to work post-childbirth by around 3% or 4%.
Additionally, it appears that parental leave policies do allow women to stay home longer before returning to work as the probability of returning to an old job falls in the second month after childbirth before dramatically rising in the third month. Although this legislation thus appears to have minimal effect on women choosing to take leave, it does appear to increase the time women take in leave.
Maternity leave legislation could pose benefits or harm to employers. The main potential drawback of mandated leave is its potential to disrupt productive activities by raising rates of employee absenteeism. With mandated leave for a certain period of time and facing prolonged absence of the mothers in the workplace, firms will be faced with two options: hire a temp (which could involve training costs) or function with a missing employee. Alternatively, these policies could be positive for employers who previously did not offer leave because they were worried about attracting employees who were disproportionately likely to use maternity leave. Thus, there is potential for these policies to correct market failures. A drawback of rising leave at the societal level, however, is the resulting decrease in female labor supply. In countries with a high demand for labor, including many present-day countries with aging populations, a smaller labor supply is unfavorable.
Something important to note for all the research cited above is that the results typically depend on how leave coverage is defined, and whether the policies are for unpaid or paid leave. Policies guaranteeing paid-leave are considered by some to be dramatically more effective than unpaid-leave policies.
For women individually, long breaks in employment, as would come from parental leave, negatively affects their careers. Longer gaps are associated with reduced lifetime earnings and lower pension disbursements as well as worsened career prospects and reduced earnings. Due to these drawbacks, some countries, notably Norway, have expanded family policy initiatives to increase the father's quota and expand childcare in an effort to work towards greater gender equality.
Paternity leave and its effects
Although parental leave is increasingly granted to fathers, mothers continue to take the majority of guaranteed parental leave. When guaranteed leave is unpaid, research indicates that men's leave usage is unaffected. 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, starting with Sweden making paternal leave gender neutral in 1974 and soon followed by Iceland, Denmark, 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.
Partly in an initiative to combat the "Motherhood penalty," Norway in 1993 initiated a policy change to incentivize paternal leave, the so-called "father's quota", and Sweden followed suit in 1995. This means a certain number of parental leave-days can only be used by the father, and are otherwise lost. In countries in which leave entitlements include a father's quota there has been a pronounced impact, with the quota being credited for increasing paternal involvement and challenging gender roles within the family, promoting a more equal division of labor. 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. However, public or subsidized daycare was greatly expanded at the same time, so Rønsen & Kitterød did not find that the "father's 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.
Another impact from fathers taking more leaves is that in Norway, it has been shown to have the potential to either decrease or increase the time women take, depending on whether the mother's and father's childcare are seen as substitutes or complements. If substitute goods, mothers are able to return to work sooner as fathers take some of the childcare responsibility. As for the latter, longer leave for fathers can motivate mothers to also stay home.
Fathers tend to use less parental leave than mothers in the United States as well as in other countries where paid leave is available, and this difference may have factors other than the financial constraints which impact both parents. Bygren and Duvander, 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.
Length of leave
In 2013, Joseph, Pailhé, Recotillet, and Solaz published a natural experiment evaluating a 2004 policy change in France. 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, and in Germany in 2009 by Kluve and Tamm. 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 analyzed a similar natural experiment in Denmark with a policy change in 1984 where parental leave increased from 14 to 20 weeks. 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.
Effects on health and development
A Harvard report cited research showing paid maternity leave “facilitates breastfeeding and reduces risk of infection” but is not associated with changes in immunization rate. This research also found that countries with parental leave had lower infant mortality rates. Returning to work within 12 weeks was also associated with less regular medical checkups. Data from 16 European countries during the period 1969-1994 revealed that the decrease of infant mortality rates varied based on length of leave. A 10-week leave was associated with a 1-2% decrease; a 20-week leave with 2-4%; and 30 weeks with 7-9%. 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. The research did not find any infant health benefits in countries with unpaid parental leave.
Paid leave, particularly when available prior to childbirth, had a significant effect on birth weight. The frequency of low birth rate decreases under these policies which likely contributes to the decrease in infant mortality rates as low birth weight is strongly correlated with infant death. However, careful analysis reveals that increased birth weight is not the sole reason for the decreased mortality rate.
According to a 2016 study, the expansion of government-funded maternity leave in Norway from 18 to 35 months had little effect on children's schooling. However, when infants bond and have their needs met quickly by caregivers (mothers, fathers, etc.) they will become confident and be prepared to have healthy relationships throughout their life.
Children whose mothers did not work in the first 9 months were found to be less ready for school at the age of 3 years. The effects of mother's employment appeared to be the most detrimental when employment started between the sixth and ninth month of life. The reasons for this were uncertain but there is conjecture that there was something unusual for the group of mothers who returned to work in this time period as they represented only 5% of all families studied. Negative impacts in terms of school-readiness were most pronounced when the mother worked at least 30 hours per week. These findings were complicated by many factors, including race, poverty, and how sensitive the mother was considered. The effects were also greater in boys which is explained by the fact that many analysts consider boys more vulnerable to stress in early life.
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. 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. 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 family forfeits less income when the mother takes off from work.
There are also observable improvements in the mental health of mothers when they are able to return to work later. While the probability of experiencing postpartum depression had no significant statistical change, longer leave (leave over 10 weeks) was associated with decreased severity of depression and decreased number of experienced symptoms. This reduction was, on average, between 5% and 10%.
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.
Effects on economy
The economic consequences of parental leave policies are subject to controversy. According to a 2016 study, the expansion of government-funded maternity leave in Norway from 18 to 35 months had net costs which amounted to 0.25% of GDP, negative redistribution properties and implied a considerable increase in taxes at a cost to economic efficiency. In the U.S., paid family leave tends to lead to a higher employee retention rate and higher incomes for families. Evidence from selected countries in Western Europe suggests that moderate levels of parental leave can encourage mothers to reenter the work force after having children, promoting national economic development.
Private parental leave
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.
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. Working Mother magazine 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. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research issued a report in 2009 encouraging Congress to give federal workers four weeks of paid parental leave. 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
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". The Maternity Protection Convention C 183 adopted in 2000 by International Labour Organization requires 14 weeks of maternity leave as minimum condition.
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.
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.) 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.
|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||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Benin||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|Burkina Faso||14||100%||2||100%||52||Unpaid||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Burundi||12||100%||2+||50%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|Cameroon||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Cape Verde||09||90%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Central African Republic||14||50%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Chad||14||100%||2||100%||52||Unpaid||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Congo||15||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|Côte d’Ivoire||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||14||67%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Djibouti||14||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|Egypt||13||100%||0||N/A||104 (only mothers)||Unpaid||Mixed (75% social security; 25% employer liability)|
|Equatorial Guinea||12||75%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Gabon||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Guinea||14||100%||0||N/A||38 (only mothers)||Unpaid||Mixed (50% social insurance; 50% employer)|
|Guinea-Bissau||09||100%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (social security flat rate, employer pays the difference to equal wage)|
|Libya||14||50% (100% for self-employed women)||<1||0||N/A||Employer (social security for self-employed)|
|Madagascar||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|Mauritania||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Morocco||14||100%||<1||100%||52 (only mothers)||Unpaid||Social security|
|Mozambique||09||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Namibia||12||100% (up to a ceiling)||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Niger||14||100%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (50% social insurance; 50% employer)|
|Rwanda||12||100% for 6 weeks; 20% remainder||<1||100%||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Sao Tome and Principe||09||100%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Seychelles||14||Flat rate for 12 weeks; unpaid remainder||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Sierra Leone||12||100%||Employer liability|
|South Africa||17||60%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Swaziland||12||100% for 2 weeks; unpaid remainder||0||N/A||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Tanzania||12||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Togo||14||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social insurance; 50% employer. Paternity: 100% employer)|
|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||100% for 6 weeks; 60% for 7 weeks||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (60% social security all 13 weeks plus 40% from employer for first 6 weeks)|
|Argentina||13||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Bahamas||13||100% for 12 weeks; 66.7% for 1 week||<1||Unpaid||0||N/A||Mixed (2/3 social security for 13 weeks; 1/3 employer for 12 weeks)|
|Brazil||17||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|British Virgin Islands||13||67%||Social security|
|Canada (except QC)||15||55% / Up to 80% for low-income families (Up to maximum of $524 per week)||0||N/A||35||55% / Up to 80% for low-income families (Up to maximum of $524 per week)||Social security|
|Canada (Québec)||Option 1: 18
Option 2: 15
|Option 1: 70% (up to maximum $975 per week)
Option 2: 75% (up to maximum $1046 per week)
|Option 1: 5
Option 2: 3
|Option 1: 70% (up to maximum $975 per week)
Option 2: 75% (up to maximum $1046 per week)
|Option 1: 32
Option 2: 25
|Option 1: 7 weeks at 70% (up to maximum $975 per week) + 25 weeks at 55% (up to maximum $767 per week)
Option 2: 75% (up to maximum $1024 per week)
|Chile||24||100% (up to a ceiling)||1||100%||12 (6 only for mothers)||100% (up to a ceiling)||Social security|
|Costa Rica||17||100%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (50% social security, 50% employer)|
|Dominican Republic||12||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 50% social security, 50% employer; paternity: employer liability)|
|Ecuador||12||100%||2||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 75% social security, 25% employer; paternity: employer liability)|
|El Salvador||12||75%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Grenada||13||100% for 8 weeks; 65% for remainder||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (65% social security all 13 weeks plus 35% from employer for first 8 weeks)|
|Guatemala||12||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (maternity: 2/3 social security, 1/3 employer; paternity: employer)|
|Haiti||12||100% for 6 weeks; unpaid remainder||0||N/A||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Honduras||12||100% for 10 weeks; unpaid remainder||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (2/3 social security, 1/3 employer)|
|Jamaica||12||100% for 8 weeks; unpaid remainder||0||N/A||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Nicaragua||12||100%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (60% social security, 40% employer)|
|Paraguay||12||50% for 9 weeks; unpaid remainder||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Peru||13||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Puerto Rico||8||100%||<1||100%||0||N/A||Employer liability|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||13||65%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Saint Lucia||13||65%||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||13||65%||Social security|
|Trindad and Tobago||14||N/A||0||N/A||Mixed (2/3 social security, 1/3 employer)|
|Uruguay||12||100%||<1||100%||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|United States of America||0||N/A||0||N/A||12 each||Unpaid||N/A|
Asia / Pacific
|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$672.70 per week as at Sept 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||26 weeks 100%.||Up to 15 days (3 working weeks) male leave 100%||Does not apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Prohibits employers from allowing women to work within six weeks after giving birth. 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. In the case of a stillbirth or miscarriage, six weeks of paid leave is required instead. From the third child onwards, only 12 weeks of paid maternity leave is permitted.|
|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%, with an additional 12 weeks unpaid. 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).|
|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.|
|Korea, Democratic People's Republic of||11 weeks|
|Kuwait||70 days 100%|
|Lao People's Democratic Republic||3 months 70%|
|Lebanon||10 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||Paid parental leave will be extended to 22 weeks from July 2018, rising to 26 weeks by 2020, the Labour government has confirmed. The current paid leave provision is 18 weeks, but Labour had pledged to increase it as part of its plan for its first 100 days in government, at a cost of $325m over the next four years.||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).|
|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%||THREE days|
|Singapore||16 weeks 100% (Singaporean citizen) or 12 weeks 67% (non-Singaporean citizen)||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. (for those covered under Employment Act. Managers earning more than SGD$4,500 a month are covered by terms of employment contract)||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.|
|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
(% of pay)
|Paternity leave (weeks)||Paternity leave
(% of pay)
|Parental leave [For EITHER parent] (weeks)||Parental leave
(% of pay)
|Source of payment|
|Albania||52||80% for 21 weeks; 50% remainder||0||N/A||2||100%||Mixed (Social security for maternity leave; employer liability for parental leave)|
|Austria||16||100%||0||N/A||104||Flat rate||Social security|
|Azerbaijan||18||100%||2||Unpaid||156||Flat rate||Social security|
|Belarus||18||100%||0||N/A||156||80% of minimum wage||Social security|
|Belgium||15||82% for 4 weeks; 75% for remainder (up to ceiling)||2||100% for 3 days; 82% remainder||17||Flat rate||Mixed (3 days paternity leave employer liability; Social security)|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||52||50%-100%||1+||100%||156||Unpaid||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Bulgaria||58||90%||2||90%||104||flat-rate for 52 weeks; Unpaid reminder||Social security|
|Croatia||58||100% for 26 weeks; flat-rate remainder||2||100%||156||Unpaid||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Czech Republic||28||70%||0||N/A||156||Flat rate||Social security|
|Denmark||18||100%||2||100%||32||100%||Mixed (social security & employer)|
|Finland||18||70%||11||70% (up to a ceiling) plus||26||70%||Social security|
|France||16||70%||2+||100% (up to a ceiling)||156||Flat rate||Social security|
|Germany||14||100%||0||N/A||156||67% (up to a ceiling) for 52 weeks; unpaid remainder||Mixed (social security & employer liability)|
|Greece||17||100%||<1||100%||17 each||Unpaid||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Hungary||24||70%||1||100%||156||70% (up to a ceiling) for 104 weeks; flat rate remainder||Social security|
|Iceland||13||80%||12||80% (up to a ceiling)||26 each||80% (up to a ceiling) for first 13 weeks each; unpaid remainder|
|Ireland||42||80% (up to a ceiling) for 26 weeks; unpaid remainder||2||Flat rate (minimum €230 per week)||18 each||Unpaid||Social security|
|Italy||22||80%||<1||100%||26 each||30%||Social security|
|Kyrgyzstan||18||7x minimum wage||Social security|
|Latvia||16||80%||2||80%||78 each||70%||Social security|
|Lithuania||18||100%||4||100% (up to a ceiling)||156||100% for 52 weeks or 70% for 104 weeks; unpaid remainder||Social security|
|Luxembourg||20||100%||2||100%||Both parents are entitled to equal parental leave. The "first parental leave" must be taken (by either the mother or the father) immediately after the end of maternity leave. The "second parental leave" may be taken by the other parent at any time up until the child's 6th birthday.
Parental leave can be taken in a variety of formats:
Self-employed people are also fully entitled to parental leave.
|100% up to a gross monthly salary threshold of €3,330.98. Employees with a higher gross monthly salary receive the threshold amount only.||Mixed (maternity leave: social security; paternity leave: 80/20 social security/employer; parental leave: depends on formula chosen - employer pays for time worked, social security pays for time on leave)|
|Malta||18||100% for 14 weeks||0||N/A||13 each||Unpaid||Mixed (social security & employer liability)|
|Monaco||16||90% (up to a ceiling)||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Netherlands||16||100% (up to a ceiling)||<1||100%||26 each (with part-time work)||Unpaid but eligible for tax-breaks||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Norway||35 (or 45)||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)||100% or 80%||36 or 46 (10 for mothers; 10 for fathers; 26 to be divided)||100% for 46 weeks or 80% for 56 weeks (up to a ceiling)||Social security|
|Poland||26||100%||2||100%||156||60% for 26 weeks; flat rate for 104; unpaid remainder||Social security|
|Portugal||17 (or 21)||100% for 17 weeks or 80% for 21||3||100%||13 each; "sharing bonus" of 4 weeks if initial leave shared||25%||Social security|
|Romania||18 (9 weeks before the anticipated date of birth, and 9 weeks after the anticipated date of birth)||85%||5 days (15 days if an infant care course is taken). Can be taken at any point within the first eight weeks after the birth of the baby.||100%||One parent is entitled to:|
104 weeks (so until the child reaches the age of two; if taken by the mother, it includes the maternal leave after the birth); or 156 weeks if the child has a disability (so until the child reaches the age of three).
Other parent is entitled to only 4 weeks (can be taken at any point during the first 2–3 years of the child's upbringing).
|Russia||20||100% (up to a ceiling)||0||N/A||156||40% (up to a ceiling) for 78 weeks; unpaid remainder||Social security|
|Serbia||20||100%||1+||100%||52 (only mothers)||100% for 26 weeks; 60% weeks 27-39; 30% weeks 40-52||Mixed (Social security maternity leave; employer liability paternity leave)|
|Slovakia||34||65%||0||N/A||156||Flat rate||Social security|
|Slovenia||15||100%||12||100% (up to a ceiling) for 2 weeks; flat rate remainder||37||90% (up to a ceiling)||Social security|
|Spain||16 (6 weeks mandatory for the mother, the other 10 can be transferred to the father)||100%||4||100%||156 each||Unpaid||Social security|
|Sweden||12||80% (up to a ceiling)||12||80% (up to a ceiling)||56||80% (up to a ceiling) for 56 weeks; flat rate for remainder||Social security|
|Switzerland||14||80% (up to a ceiling)||0||N/A||0||N/A||Social security|
|Tajikistan||20||100%||0||N/A||156||Flat rate for 78 weeks; unpaid remainder||Social security|
|Turkey||16||66.70%||0||N/A||26 (only mothers)||Unpaid||Social security|
|Ukraine||18||100%||0||N/A||156||Flat rate for 78 weeks; childcare allowance remainder||Social security|
|United Kingdom||52 (2 weeks mandatory for the mother, up to 50 of the remainder can be transferred to the father as Shared Parental Leave)||90% for 6 weeks; 90%/flat rate for 32 weeks; unpaid remainder||2 (plus up to 50 weeks transferred from the mother as Shared Parental Leave)||90% or flat-rate (whichever is less)||13 each||Unpaid||Mixed (employers reimbursed)|
|Uzbekistan||18||100%||0||N/A||156||20% of minimum wage for 104 weeks; unpaid remainder||Social security|
Parental leave policies in the United Nations
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||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.|
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