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Countries With the Best Maternity and Paternity Leave

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Table Of Contents

Around the world, countries are rolling out policies to support new parents. Some offer generous paid leave, others subsidized child care, and others offer flexible work arrangements.

But what are the countries with the best maternity and paternity leave policies?

The United States is one of the few developed countries that doesn’t have a national policy on paid parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act, enacted in 1993, guarantees new parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but that’s about it.

Paid parental leave is becoming more common in the private sector, with some companies offering up to six months of paid leave. But even the most generous policies pale in comparison to what’s offered in other countries.

Here are countries with the best maternity and paternity leave policies.

5 Countries with the Best Maternity Policies in the World

Countries with best maternity and paternity leave

Bulgaria – 410 days

Bulgaria’s leave laws offer new parents an incredible 410 days of paid leave. Bulgaria’s maternity leave covers 90% of the employee’s salary through social security. In addition, for the period between the expiration of the 410 days and the child reaching the age of two years, the employee is entitled to monthly compensation, paid by social security, in the amount of the minimum monthly salary. 

Norway – 49 weeks

All the Scandinavian countries are generous when it comes to maternity leave, and Norway is no exception. The Norwegian welfare system has always been generous. Norway has a flexible option that allows new mothers to take up to 59 weeks of maternity leave paid at an 80% pay rate or 49 weeks at full pay. The father chooses to take up to 10 weeks or no leave at all, depending on the wife’s income.

Sweden – 480 days

Sweden offers 480 days for both parents. Parents receive parental leave at 80% of their regular wages. Unlike many countries that don’t extend leave for multiple births, an additional 180 days are granted for each additional child. Parental benefit is 240 days per parent, for a fully paid total of 480 days, and it is distributed as you choose between the parents. Fathers get 90 paid paternity days of those 480 reserved just for them to promote father-child bonding.

Germany – 14 weeks

Germany is one of the rare countries outside of Scandinavia to have some of the longest maternity leave in the world. By German leave laws, mothers are initially guaranteed 14 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave (6 weeks before birth and 8 weeks after the birth of a child). After maternity leave, parents in Germany can request a whopping 3 years of parental leave for their natural or adopted child.
 

Greece – 43 weeks

Greece offers employees 43 weeks of maternity leave. They are entitled to up to 17 weeks of fully paid maternity leave (eight weeks before and nine weeks after the birth of a child). Following this, an additional six-month special leave is granted, compensated at the minimum daily wage, leading up to a total of 43 weeks of paid leave. Privileges also include reduced hours of daily work over several months.

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5 Countries with the Best Paternity Leave in the WorldCountries with best maternity and paternity leave

Japan – 12 months

When it comes to paternity leave, leave laws in Japan are ahead of the curve, offering 12 months to new fathers. While many companies provide flexibility through shared parental leave, Japan offers one full year of paid parental leave exclusively for fathers. This leave is entirely separate from any leave granted to mothers. This is accompanied by a partial allowance paid through the government’s social security program. 

Iceland – 6 months

The new 2021 legislation in Iceland extended the duration of combined maternity and paternity leave to a total of 12 months, split equally between the mother and father (six months each). However, parents are also allowed to transfer up to one month of leave to the other parent, so that one takes seven months and the other takes five. The entire leave is paid at 80% of the person’s average salary.

Finland – 164 days

Scandinavian countries are champions when it comes to their parental leave culture, and Finland’s leave policy is no exception. Starting in 2021, Finland gave all parents leave, regardless of their gender or whether they are a child’s biological parents. Under the new law, each parent is given 160 days or about seven months, the government said in a statement.

Lithuania – 3 months

Nordic countries get a lot of attention for their generous leave policies, but Lithuania may beat them all. New moms get 18 weeks (126 days) of partially paid leave, new fathers get 30 days. Both parents get parental leave until the child is 3 years old (fathers are guaranteed 2 non-transferrable months). During this period, they can receive 18 months at 60% pay or 24 months at 45% and 30%. The remaining days are unpaid.

Spain – 16 weeks

Since 2021, Spain’s leave laws have offered 16 weeks of paternity leave, equal to maternity. Also, fathers can take this leave at the same time as maternity leave, with the first six weeks mandatory post-delivery and the remaining 10 weeks flexible within the baby’s first year. Same-sex couples are granted equal rights, allowing one partner to opt for paternity leave and the other for maternity leave. 100% of the salary is paid.

Some Countries Are Not Yet On Board

Some 60 countries don’t offer paternity leave of any kind to fathers, including the US. There has been a push in many countries worldwide to increase paternity leave to promote bonding between father and child and support their partner.

While the USA falls behind when it comes to paid parental leave, a few states have implemented their own policies. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have all enacted laws that guarantee new parents some paid time off. And in 2016, Washington D.C. became the first city in the country to offer paid parental leave to city workers.

Although many countries don’t have federally protected paternity leave, the above countries have implemented very generous policies. Countries with the best maternity and paternity leave understand the importance of fathers being able to spend time with their newborn children and have put policies in place to make that happen.

With all the different types of leaves out there, your company might need a leave management system to keep track of it all. Look into what Vacation Tracker can do for you.

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Easy PTO tracking, right at your fingertips.

Automate leave policies, improve visibility and plan better

No credit card required. Instant set-up.

Uros Vucendic
Uros Vucendic

After many years of working as a programmer, Uros has finally returned to his true passion, which would be writing, as a content writer in Vacation Tracker. Human words surely bring more beauty and poetry than codes do, so one could say that today, at last, he is content as a writer. A content writer.

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