The 5 Most Enviable Maternity Leaves From Around The World

maternity leave

You don’t need to necessarily be an American mother to know that our maternity leave is nonexistent. We’re sadly notorious for it, with countries like Italy, Sweden, and Denmark leaving us in the dust with double digit paid parental leaves for both parents. The United States does offer non-paid leave, but the parameters are very specific and consequently, leave out a huge chunk of our citizens. Lisa Wade reports:

The U.S. does guarantee that new parents receive 12 weeks of non-paid leave, but only for parents who work in companies that employ 50 workers or more and who have worked there at least 12 months and accrued 1,250 hours or more in that time.  These rules translate to about 1/2 of women.  The other half are guaranteed nothing.

She points out that although the United States is clearly a developed country, we offer no guaranteed time off to rear a child, which for a nation that constantly engages in “family values” rhetoric, strikes me as pretty hypocritical. So while you’re shaking your fists at mothers in the United Kingdom and Canada for their multi-week mat leaves, let us not forget the even bigger fish on the other side of the pond.

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  • Ellie

    I’d be happy with even HALF of what any of these countries offer. The US is so behind on supporting families, in this and many other ways.

  • Andrea

    Almost every civilized country in the WORLD has better maternity leave policies than the US. It is despicable the way we treat moms here. We also have one of the highest infant mortality rates for a civilized country. I mean for pete’s sake, CUBA has a better rate than the US!!

    I think we have a heck of a lot of nerve in calling out other countries for the way they treat women when we have a LONG way to go. Sure we don’t get beat up for not wearing a burka (or whatever they are called), but once the social pleasantries are met, we don’t have a whole lot of rights as mothers.

  • CW

    THIS is what the feminists should make their #1 issue instead of all the divisive sexuality issues. Women may never be able to agree on abortion, birth control, etc. but we should ALL be able to agree on paid maternity leave.

    • Andrea

      You’d be surprised what some women believe in regards to maternity leave..but I agree with you 100%

  • b3v

    WOW. and I thought we had it good in Canada!

    • Lilly

      Canada is still probably top 10 as a lot pay less than the 55% we get or don’t allow the father time or don’t allow time when there is an adoption. But Sweden takes the cake in most social benefit categories globally.

  • Amy

    Interesting that you consider the Italian situation enviable. If you looked closer, I think you’d see it for what it is- sexism, pure and simple. Being a woman in Italy is a pretty raw deal unless you want nothing more from life than to marry young, give up your job as soon as you get pregnant and never be anything except ‘mamma’ for the rest of your life. Either that, or a stripper on national TV.

  • Mya

    Proud to be a Finn! :)

    Public health care is pretty good too (gasp! Isn’t it so SOCIALIST?! :O). Every pregnant momma and their children up to the age of 7 are taken good care of, there’s first monthly, then yearly checks. And in my understanding it’s free for everybody (or very cheap).

    Also, if you want to stay home after that 44 weeks, you get some SAHM/SAHD money from the state to support your decision. Also, families can flexibly decide if they want the mom or the dad to stay home with the kid.

    Sorry, can’t be specific cause I’m not a parent myself or planning to be one in the near future, but I just know my sisters could stay at home with their kids (cause they wanted to) even though the husbands aren’t high-income.

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