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A Closer Look at Paternity and Maternity Leave by Country

3 min

Having a child is a life-changing experience, and one that comes with a new job title: parent. Parenting is a lifetime job, and it starts from the moment a baby is born. The early days of a child’s life are crucial because it is when parents and infants first bond and begin their lives together. 

Being able to take time away from a career to be present for the first months of a child’s life is important to parents around the world. Many governments recognize that and provide their citizens with federal maternity leave and/or paternity leave protections. These protections allow parents to take time off from their jobs around the child’s arrival, while still receiving pay in some cases. Maternity and paternity leave also ensure employees’ position will be waiting for them once the leave term ends.  

While maternity leave and paternity leave are common practices in many countries around the world, the length of leave and payment protections vary greatly from one nation to the next. Cultural attitudes towards work and child rearing as well as shifting societal opinions relating to work-life balance are at the heart of the policy decisions and revisions pertaining to parental leave laws. As a result, the current maternity and paternity leave around the world are incredibly diverse.

Mapping Out Parental Leave Laws Around the World 

To give workers, employers, and policymakers a better understanding of maternity and paternity leave laws around the world, we collected information on existing laws from over 150 nations around the world, then mapped out their policies by length. The end result of these efforts can be seen here: 

Interactive map of paternity leave and maternity leave by country. 

The map is color-coded to correspond to maternity leave length, based on the minimum amount of time guaranteed under federal law in each country. Clicking on a given country will reveal additional information, such as the exact amount of guaranteed parental leave for both mothers and fathers, as well as the federally guaranteed pay rate for each during their leave period.

Maternity leave policies around the world 

In terms of countries leading the way when it comes to generous maternity leave policies, our analysis found Bulgaria and Norway to be the most generous when it comes to time off. Norway has a flexible option that allows new mothers to take up to 59 weeks of maternity leave paid at an 80% pay rate, while Bulgaria offers 410 days of leave paid out at a rate of 90% of regular pay. We also found three countries that all guarantee a full year of maternity leave at full pay for their citizens – Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the shortest maternity leave policy belongs to Tunisia, where mothers are only allowed a month off at ⅔ their regular pay. Of course, one could argue that is still better than the policies in Papua New Guinea and the U.S., two countries that allow for three months of maternity leave that is fully unpaid, making them the only two countries on earth that do not offer some kind of paid maternity leave protection to their citizens.  

Paternity leave laws around the world 

When it comes to paternity leave, things are very different. Over 65 countries included in our analysis do not offer paternity leave of any kind for fathers. There has been a push in many countries around the world to increase paternity leave and encourage fathers to take time off to bond when a child is born, but that number shows that on a global level paternity leave protections still lag behind their mother-focused counterparts. 

While many countries do not have federally protected paternity leave, there are some that have implemented very generous policies. Sweden allocated 480 total days of leave for both parents, and splitting those days close to evenly is encouraged, so Swedish fathers can look forward to 200+ days of leave in many cases. Finland, Iceland, Spain, and Pakistan also allow fathers over three full months of leave, all at a pay rate of 70% of their normal wage or higher.

No matter where you live around the world, the joy, happiness, and changes that a new baby brings remain largely the same. And while parental leave policies differ from one nation to the next, at GetResponse we encourage all new parents to take full advantage of the time they are given to bond with their newest family member.

Oskar Markiewicz
Oskar Markiewicz
Oskar is a passionate Technical SEO Analyst in GetResponse, an expert in his field, prepared for any algorithm changes. His previous experience includes 4 years of being a SPAM fighter, with phishing as his main nemesis. Oskar's greatest hobby is climbing, but at work he rarely hits a wall.