10 Countries With the Best Parental Leave Policies in the World

10 Countries With the Best Parental Leave Policies in the World

Being a parent is one of the most exciting things that could ever happen in your life. After birth, it’s important for the child to be around his/her parents since it helps them learn and thrive in the new world. Even doctors suggest spending time and skin-to-skin contact with newborns. Skin-to-skin contact dramatically increases newborn weight gain. This is because when babies are receiving warmth from the mother or father, they don’t need to use their energy to regulate their body temperature. Just 10 minutes of skin-to-skin contact reduces babies’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increases levels of the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin. But not all mothers and fathers get enough time to spend with their child. In some countries, it is mandatory to give new parents time off with their children to promote a healthier life, but others don’t necessarily agree with that. Here, we have collected how parental leave varies by the country.

1. Finland

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It might come as a huge surprise to you but expecting mothers in Finland can start their maternity leave 7 weeks before their estimated due date. After the child is born, the government provides a maternity grant that covers 16 additional weeks of paid leave. The maternity grant covers all mothers, regardless of whether the mother is a student, unemployed, or self-employed.

Once the child turns three, parents have the option to split parental leave in which they can both work from home and take care of the child. Parents can use this program to manage both work and family until the child reaches second grade.

2. Denmark

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Expectant mothers can take 4 weeks off before their due date and 14 weeks off after the baby is born; all at full pay. The father can also chip in and take two weeks off to spend time with the mother and the newborn. After the 14 weeks of paid parental leave is over, parents again have the option to request for an additional 32 weeks of paid days off; which they can split however they see fit.

After 32 weeks, if the child or parent gets sick, they can once again request for an additional 14 weeks of paid leave. By law, the government covers up to 52 weeks of pay; but not always at the full salary.

3. Sweden

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The Swedish government provides parents with a stunning 480 days of leave at 80% of their salary. The first 18 weeks is reserved for the mothers and after that period, the parents can split the days however they choose. Swedish parental leave is unique because the fathers also get 90 days of paid paternity just for them. The aim of the program is to promote bonding between father and child during the early stages of life.

4. Belgium

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Paternity leave in Belgium is different than the rest of the countries. The parental leave mainly focuses on expectant mothers who can take up to 15 weeks for maternity leave. Starting at the day of birth, for the next 30 days, the government pays the mother 80% of their salary; 75% for the rest of the days. Meanwhile, fathers receive 10 days of paid leave where the first 3 days are 100% pay and the remainder 7 days are paid at 82% of their salary. The only condition is that the fathers should use the 10 days within the baby’s first 4 months.

Mothers also have the option to split the 15 weeks into 8 months where they can work from home part-time instead of the 15 consecutive weeks.

5. Iceland

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Icelandic parents get a stunning 9 months off from the day of birth. There’s only one condition on this policy. The new mother can use 3 months and the father can use 3 months. Then, it’s up to the couple to decide how they want to split the remaining 3 months between them. This is to ensure that both the parents can work as well as get equal amount of time with the child. Neither parties are allowed to transfer the days off to one another. During the entire 9 month period, the government covers 80% of both the parents salaries.

6. Serbia

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Serbian mothers receive 20 weeks of fully paid leave after giving birth. After the 20 week period, they get an addition 1 year with pay, which diminishes over time. A mother receives 100% pay for the first 26 weeks, 60% for weeks 27-39, and 30% for weeks 40-52. Fathers however, get only one week off but with 100% pay.

7. Norway

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The Norwegian government provides one of the most generous policies for expectant parents. Their flexible program allows new mothers to take 35 weeks at full pay or 45 weeks at 80% pay. The fathers on the other hand can take between zero to eight weeks depending on the spouse’s salary.

8. Hungary

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Hungarian moms can start their parental leave 4 weeks before their due date. After giving birth, they can take another 20 weeks. The 24 weeks are paid at 70% of their salary and fathers get one week paid in full. Upon completion of their first 24 weeks, the parents then have the option to extend their paternity leave for another 156 weeks, split between them. The first 104 weeks is paid at 70% of their salary and the remainder is paid at a flat rate.

9. Estonia

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Estonian mothers are given 140 days of fully paid pregnancy and maternity leave, which may begin 30-70 days before the expected delivery date. Meanwhile, fathers are given two weeks of paid time off to promote extra bonding with their child. After the maternity leave ends, the parents can take an additional 435 days off to share, with compensation calculated at the average of their two earnings.

10. Lithuania

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When it comes to parental leave, Nordic countries are the most generous. Lithuania, however, beats them all. Lithuanian moms get 18 weeks of fully paid leave, new fathers get four weeks, and together the parents get an additional 156 weeks to share. During the time shared, parents can either choose to have 100% pay for the first 52 weeks (until the child turns one) or 70% for the first 104 weeks (until the child is 2 years old). The remaining weeks however, are unpaid.

What do you think about these policies? Do these beat the policies provided by your country? Let us know in the comments section.

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