Maternity Leave Around the World

It’s Mat Leave Monday! Over the course of almost a year I have researched maternity leave in 13 countries and 1 Canadian province. I have learned a lot about maternity leave and how it works. Today I am going to summarize all that I have learned about maternity leave in one handy little blog post.

Here is my brief rundown of each country and province, in alphabetical order:

Australia

  • Leave is unpaid, although employers may offer plans
  • 52 weeks of unpaid leave
  • Fathers may share leave with mothers
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave as biological parents
  • Families earning less than $75,000 AUD per year qualify for a $5000 AUD baby bonus (approx $4300 CAD or $3500 USD)
  • Note – This past May the government announced plans to introduce paid maternity leave in January of 2011.

    Canada

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Birth mothers qualify for 15 weeks of paid maternity benefits (plus a 2 week unpaid waiting period)
  • Parents qualify for 35 weeks of paid parental benefits
  • Fathers or partners may share parental leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to parental leave only
  • To qualify for leave you must have worked 600 insurable hours in the past year, or since your last claim (whichever is shorter)
  • Benefits are paid at 55% of your average income, to a weekly maximum of $447 CAD
  • France

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Birth mothers qualify for 6 weeks of paid maternity benefits before giving birth and 10 weeks after, or 8 weeks before and 18 weeks after if it’s your 3rd or subsequent child
  • Parents qualify for 3 years of parental leave
  • Fathers or partners receive 11 days of paid paternity leave and may share parental leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to 10 weeks of paid adoption leave and qualify for parental leave
  • All parents qualify for leave
  • Maternity benefits are paid at a mother’s full net pay, and parents are eligible for an allowance during parental leave which varies depending on if you’re working part time or not at all, and how many children you have
  • Germany

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Birth mothers qualify for 6 weeks of paid maternity benefits before the birth and 8 weeks after
  • Parents qualify for up to 3 years unpaid parental leave, or Elternzeit
  • Fathers or partners may share parental leave only
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to parental leave only
  • The Child Allowance, or Elterngeld, provides for pay during parental leave, offering 12 months pay to mothers only, or 14 months if parental leave is shared with the father
  • During maternity leave mothers receive full pay, and under the Elterngeld they receive 67% of pay to a monthly minimum of €300 (approx $464 CAD or $424 USD) and maximum of €1800 (approx $2790 CAD or $2540 USD)
  • India

  • Leave is paid for by employers
  • Birth mothers qualify for 12 weeks of paid maternity benefits which may start up to 6 weeks before the birth
  • Fathers do not qualify for any sort of leave
  • Adoptive parents do not qualify for any sort of leave
  • To qualify for maternity leave a mother must have worked at least 80 days in the previous 12 months
  • During maternity leave mothers receive full pay
  • After returning to work, women may receive twice daily nursing breaks until their baby is 15 months old
  • Ireland

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Mothers qualify for 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, 2 weeks of which must be claimed before the birth
  • Fathers or partners do not qualify for leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to 24 weeks of paid adoption leave
  • To qualify for leave you must have paid into the plan for between 39 and 52 weeks, depending on your employment situation
  • Benefits are paid at 80% of your average income, to a weekly maximum of €280.00 (approx $450 CAD or $358 USD), and a weekly minimum of €230.3 (approx $370 CAD or $300 USD)
  • Netherlands

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Mothers qualify for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, 4-6 weeks of which is claimed before the birth
  • Fathers receive 2 days of paid paternity leave and 2 days of ‘other short term absence leave’ for the birth and the registration of the birth
  • Adoptive parents are each entitled to 4 weeks of paid adoption leave
  • All parents qualify for 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave, which is often taken as a part time leave (so you work half-time hours for a year)
  • To qualify for parental leave you must have been with your employer for a year before the leave
  • Maternity and adoption benefits are paid at 100% of your average income, to a daily maximum of €174.64 (approx $277 CAD or $235 USD)
  • New Zealand

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Parents receive 14 weeks of paid leave, 6 weeks of which may be taken before the birth. They are also entitled to 38 additional weeks of unpaid leave
  • Fathers or partners may share leave, and may also receive 2 weeks of additional unpaid paternity leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave as birth parents.
  • To qualify for leave you must have worked 10 hours / week or more for the same employer, with a minimum of 1 hour in any given week and 40 hours in any given month, for at least 6 months
  • Benefits are paid at your full salary, to a weekly maximum of $407.36 NZD (approx $278 CAD or $223 USD)
  • Norway

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Parents receive 44 or 54 weeks of paid leave, depending on the plan they choose, and will receive longer leaves for multiple births
  • 3 weeks of leave must be taken by the mother before the birth, and the first 6 weeks after birth is reserved for her exclusive use
  • 6 weeks of leave are reserved for the exclusive use of the father, and the remaining weeks may be shared between parents
  • Adoptive parents are not entitled to the 3 weeks leave before birth, but otherwise receive the same benefits as birth parents
  • To qualify for leave you must have earned 6 months of pensionable income in the 10 months preceding leave
  • If you choose 54 weeks of leave your benefits are paid at 80% of your salary to a weekly maximum of roughly $1068 CAD, and if you choose 44 weeks your benefits are paid at 100% of your salary to a weekly maximum of roughly $1335 CAD
  • Quebec

  • Leave is paid through the provincial government
  • Birth mothers qualify for 18 weeks of paid maternity benefits
  • Parents qualify for 32 weeks of paid parental benefits
  • Fathers or partners receive 5 weeks of paid paternity benefits and may share parental leave
  • Adoptive parents receive 37 weeks of paid parental leave
  • To qualify for leave you must have earned at least $2000 CAD in insurable income in the past 52 weeks
  • Maternity, paternity, and a portion of adoption and parental benefits are paid at 70% of your average income up to a weekly maximum of $834.61 CAD. The remaining benefits are paid at 55% of your average income up to a weekly maximum of $655.76 CAD
  • Parents may opt for the special plan, which is shorter but pays out at 75% of average income up to a weekly maximum of $894.23 CAD
  • South Africa

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Mothers qualify for 4 months paid maternity leave, which can start up to 4 weeks before delivery
  • Fathers may claim 3 days family responsibility leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to 3 days family responsibility leave
  • Benefits are paid for a maximum of 121 days. You must have worked 6 days for each day of benefits you claim – so you have to work 2 years to take the full 121 days.
  • Benefits are paid at between 38% and 58% of your average income
  • Sweden

  • Leave is paid through the federal government
  • Parents each receive 240 days of paid leave, and will receive longer leaves for multiple births
  • 60 days are reserved for the exclusive use of each parent, and up to 180 days may be transferred, meaning the total paid leave is 480 days
  • Single parents receive the full 480 days for themselves
  • Adoptive parents receive the same benefits as birth parents
  • All parents qualify for some sort of paid leave
  • The first 390 days of leave are paid at 80% of your average income, to a daily maximum of SEK 872 (approx $131 CAD or $114 USD), and a minimum of SEK 180 (approx $27 CAD or $23.50 USD), and the remainder is paid out at SEK 180 per day
  • United Kingdom

  • Leave is paid for by employers, or through the government for those who don’t receive employment benefits
  • Mothers qualify for 52 weeks of maternity leave
  • Fathers receive 1-2 weeks of paid paternity leave
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to the same benefits as birth parents
  • To qualify for leave you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due
  • Benefits are paid at 90% of your weekly salary for the first 6 weeks, and then you receive £123.06 a week for the next 33 weeks. The last 13 weeks are unpaid
  • United States of America

  • Leave is unpaid, although employers may offer plans
  • Employees may receive 12 weeks of job protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Fathers may receive the same leave as mothers
  • Adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave as biological parents
  • To qualify for FMLA you must have worked for an employer with 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius for at least 12 months, and you must have worked at least 1250 hours in the last year
  • NoteCalifornia and New Jersey offer government paid maternity leave, and movements are active in other states to introduce similar initiatives.

    This will be the last tour around the world of international maternity leave. Looking at this list it feels like quite the accomplishment, though, I must say. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

    matleavecarnivalboxPS – There’s still lots of time left to sign up for the Carnival of Maternity Leave. I am hard at work sewing a fabulous baby blanket at this very moment, which will be part of the prize pack for one lucky participant. Also there will be chocolate. So please, if you have any thoughts about maternity leave consider writing a post for the carnival, or submitting a guest post to me. You don’t have to be on maternity leave, or to have even ever had a baby. As long as you have something to say I’d love to have you!

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      Comments

      1. Great post Amber!

      2. In Canada, we also have the family bonus similar to Australia, based on income. If you have 3, 4 or more kids, especially under six, the amount is quite high for a low income working family.

        Look up Child Tax benefit. :)

      3. Without commenting on anything else (because I read the mat leave posts as you wrote them), I just have to laugh to see mat leave in Canada, and mat leave in Quebec!

        Great information, as always =D

      4. I’m familiar with the Canadian baby bonus, but it’s quite different from Australia. Our Canadian baby bonus is paid out monthly to families with kids at home to offset the cost of raising children. It is means-tested and families receive different amounts depending on their income.

        In Australia the baby bonus is paid only when a baby is born, and the sum is the same regardless of family income. (Unless you make too much to qualify altogether). Because of the fact that the baby bonus is paid on the birth of a baby, it is viewed as a de facto type of maternity pay by some Australians. This is why I mentioned it, and didn’t mention the Canadian scheme, since the Child Tax Benefit isn’t related to a new baby being born in particular.

        Here is some info I found online:
        http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/cctb/menu-eng.html
        http://www.familyassist.gov.au/Internet/FAO/fao1.nsf/content/payments-maternity_payment-baby_bonus_after_1jan2009.htm

      5. Thanks for all the info, Amber!

        I’m currently making plans to pack up and move to Sweden. ;)

      6. Well isn’t this just the best little clip and save post ever (if you’re studying mat leave on a global scale or have friends in many different countries.) I really feel like I should print this out though. SO many great posts today. I’m on a stumbling high!

      7. Wow – that was a lot of work all summed up nicely. We do some things nicely in the US, but I’m afraid maternity leave just isn’t one of them.

      8. Thanks for all the information. I’m always amazed at the lack of maternity care in the US and the women who feel lucky to scrape together 9 weeks of paid leave through leftover vacation time and such.

        I’m grateful for our Canadian maternity leave although I didn’t get to take full advantage of it. Hopefully when I have a third child I will be able to take the full year off

      9. This is just one of the many things that make me wish I lived in Canada, rather than the US. Here, having a baby is something that you’re often punished for, both financially and professionally. Thank you for putting this together, it was a fascinating read!

      10. Amber this is a fabulous collection of information! Wonderful resource! Great accomplishment for certain! Thanks for this. The US looks pretty sad… pretty sad indeed..

      11. As a Canadian who has taken advantage of her year-long maternity leaves twice now, I am thankful, thankful, thankful.

        A few things to point out – there are employers that do ‘top up’ the gov’t pay, so that women get almost (or hit) 100% of their pay for the year. Alas, my employer is not one of them, but I’m happy for my friends whose are.

        Also, one huge downfall to our system is that, if you are self-employed, or work part time, you get nothing. BOO.

      12. I would just like to add that in Québec, self employed and part time workers are entitled to the Régime d’assurance parental. As long as you paied your dues for it in your last income tax report.

      13. Very interesting post. I’m very grateful for the country that I live in. I have a 2 week old and can’t imagine living in the US and having to return to work in a month.
        It looks like the US is the only country with such a ridiculous “maternity leave”.

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