Maternity Leave By Country 2021

Maternity leave refers to the period of time that a mother takes off from work following the birth of her baby. Many companies that offer maternity leave for mothers will allow the same for father, typically referred to as paternity leave.

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that requires covered employers to provide at least 12 weeks of unpaid family leave time after the birth of a child or after the adoption of a child. There are exceptions to this law such as the business being less than 50 employees, the parent being employed with the company for less than 12 months, and if the employee earns within the top 10% of wages in the company.

While the law requires a minimum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, companies have the option to extend the number of weeks and offer a partial salary to parents, although this is not required. The minimum required paid maternity leave in the U.S. is zero weeks. The U.S. has the fewest maternity leaves protections or benefits of any country.

Parents expecting to take maternity should plan ahead financially for several weeks of no pay or reduced pay, in addition to the extra costs associated with newborn babies.

Around the world, the number of weeks allowed for maternity leave and the percentage of pay varies by country.

Countries with the Full-Paid Maternity Leave

Some countries offer mothers their full-rate salary for the weeks that they take maternity leave. These countries are:

In addition to offering 100% of the mother’s salary, the required weeks of maternity leave in these countries range from six weeks in Portugal to 30 weeks in Croatia.

Other countries require very high percentages of full salaries during maternity leave, including Norway at 94%, France at 90%, and Bulgaria at 90%.

Countries with the Longest Minimum Maternity Leaves

Some countries around the world have long minimum periods for maternity leave. The countries that have the longest minimum paid maternity leaves are:

  • Bulgaria – 58.6 weeks
  • Greece – 43 weeks
  • United Kingdom – 39 weeks
  • Croatia – 30 weeks
  • Chile - 30 weeks
  • Czech Republic – 28 weeks
  • Ireland – 26 weeks
  • Hungary – 24 weeks
  • Italy – 21.7 weeks
  • Poland – 20 weeks
  • Luxembourg – 20 weeks
  • Estonia – 20 weeks

These are the minimum required weeks for maternity leave. Many countries give parents the option to extend their leave. In Estonia, mothers can take 20 of fully paid maternity leave followed by 62 weeks of the maximum paid parental leave.

In several countries, such as in Chile, mothers are required to take leave for a number of weeks before their due date. In Chile, mothers are required to take six weeks before births and 12 weeks after. In Austria, mothers are obligated to take leave eight weeks before birth and eight weeks after.

Maternity Leave By Country 2021

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Maternity Leave By Country 2021

Country Weeks Paid Payment Rate 2021 Population
Bulgaria58.6090.00%6,896,663
Greece4349.00%10,370,744
United Kingdom3930.00%68,207,116
Slovakia3475.00%5,460,721
Croatia30100.00%4,081,651
Chile30100.00%19,212,361
Czech Republic2861.00%10,724,555
Ireland2626.00%4,982,907
Hungary2470.00%9,634,164
Italy21.7080.00%60,367,477
Luxembourg20100.00%634,814
Estonia20100.00%1,325,185
Poland20100.00%37,797,005
Malta1886.00%442,784
Cyprus1875.00%1,215,584
Lithuania18100.00%2,689,862
New Zealand1846.00%4,860,643
Denmark1853.00%5,813,298
Romania1885.00%19,127,774
Australia1842.00%25,788,215
Finland17.5074.00%5,548,360
Costa Rica17.30100.00%5,139,052
Latvia1680.00%1,866,942
Austria16100.00%9,043,070
Netherlands16100.00%17,173,099
Canada1649.00%38,067,903
Spain16100.00%46,745,216
France1690.00%65,426,179
Turkey1666.00%85,042,738
Slovenia15100.00%2,078,724
Israel15100.00%8,789,774
Belgium1563.00%11,632,326
Switzerland1458.00%8,715,494
Germany14100.00%83,900,473
Japan1467.00%126,050,804
Iceland1368.00%343,353
Norway1394.00%5,465,630
Sweden12.9077.00%10,160,169
South Korea12.9080.00%51,305,186
Mexico12100.00%130,262,216
Portugal6100.00%10,167,925
United States0.00%332,915,073

Maternity Leave By Country 2021