Comparing Paid Maternity Leave Around the World

ThinkProgress  published a chart today that maps paid maternity leave around the world. Unpaid leave, lack of job protection and inadequate childcare options are major challenges for working mothers and pose barriers to advancement for women in all areas, including those in public service. The U.S. lags behind the developed world, and indeed much of the developing world, in terms paid maternity leave benefits.

Indeed, ThinkProgress reports:

“Out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits, let alone paid leave for fathers, which more than 50 of these nations offer. In comparison, Canada and Norway offer generous benefits that can be shared between the father and mother, France offers about four months, and even Mexico and Pakistan are among the nations offer 12 weeks paid leave for mothers.

American women are offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which exempts companies with fewer than 50 paid employees, but in 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public workers reported that they had access to paid maternity leave through their employer. And for first-time mothers, only about half can take paid leave when they give birth.

At the same time that working women in the U.S. lack a benefit widely available across the globe, almost 50 percent of families had two working parents in 2010, and 26 percent of households were headed by single parents. Without guaranteed paid maternity leave, many of these working women face significant financial hardship by having to choose between their paycheck and their families.

Women are forced to put their careers and financial future at risk simply because they want to have children. During their pregnancy, they face being fired unfairly or not being able to properly care for themselves. They should not have to worry about making ends meet without paid maternity leave on top of that.”




Comments: 14 Responses

  1. Ahmed Ali says:

    Finally Pakistan beat the US in something: paid maternity leave.

  2. [...] few weeks ago I came across this“Mapping Paid Maternity Leave” picture and had a look. It was published by The Women in Public Service Project: Think Progress [...]

  3. [...] Workplaces that do not offer paid maternity leave discriminate against women- pregnant women are put in the position of choosing between their newborn infants and their job, and that is just wrong.  Mamas and babies need a full year together period.  The United States has no law requiring paid maternity leave, while many other countries do. [...]

  4. [...] you decide to have kids, know that the United States ranks the worst in paid maternity leave among the major nations (as in, you get none. 12 weeks of unpaid leave is all you’re entitled [...]

  5. he United States has no law requiring paid maternity leave, while many other countries do… that is just wrong. Mamas and babies need a full year together period.

  6. Aimee says:

    Not sure where you got 20 weeks for the UK. It’s 6 weeks at full pay. 33 with statutory maternity pay (currently £135 ish per week) and 13 weeks at no pay. Making 52 weeks total

  7. Jen says:

    Call me a jerk, cause I’m sure someone will… BUT why should I have to pay for someone getting pregnant? Part of the responsibility of having a child is making sure you can afford and take care the little one – It should def. not fall on the employer to pay you when you decided to have a child (or the government for that matter for public sector employees). I think it’s even more of a slap in the face to people who can’t have children… to force them to help pay for someone else to have time off when they couldn’t have the option if they wanted to.
    I personally think that an employer should absolutely let a woman take off for however long (which mostly already happens) but in no way should the pregnant woman be entitled for that time to be paid time off.

    • Lyuda says:

      Well, it’s our kids that will be paying our retirement and debts. So, first of all, u want to actually have a population that could do it. If no one wants to have kids, what’s gonna happen to the country in 20 years? Second, u want that population to be able to work, meaning they have a mental, social, physical capacity and education, that education starts from the first days of the newborn lives. And thirdly, it goes together with the US public education system(pre-university), which is statistically ranks in the world close to the US rankings of the paid maternity leave.

  8. Karen says:

    I am Canadian and we get one year mat leave. Which can be split belween mother and father as they wish. Australia get’s two years mat leave. I do not understand why the USA is so far behind.

  9. Diego Paez says:

    In Ecuador, there is also a 10 days paid PATERNITY leave, so the father could be there for his family!

  10. Nanna says:

    Not true!!!

    In Denmark it’s 40something (42 I belive) weeks of paid maternityleave!! The 18 weeks is only for the mother, the rest can be used either by the mother or the father. 2weeks ekstra to the dad for when the baby is first born.

  11. Eric says:

    and we all sit around wondering why we have so many social problems.

  12. melanie says:

    Canadians are very lucky however it is not full wage by government it is 55% of salary. Some companies will top you off to 90% or 100% for certain amount of weeks.

  13. Lyuda says:

    Also, in most of those countries having a baby doesn’t cost anything and you would get a small sum to help with the costs once the baby is born. Here, if you don’t have a maternity insurance (which u can’t get once ur already pregnant, u have to get it a year before u plan on being pregnant and it costs at least additional $200 per month to what ur already paying) you will end up paying a minimum of $10 grand if everything goes smoothly and there are no complications. So, basically, u r forced to work to even to afford to pay for the delivery of the baby, let alone taking time off.

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