Maternity Leave around the World

Hey, all.

We briefly touched upon the idea of maternal or family leave after childbirth in Cami’s presentation about Sweden. As she explained, Sweden implements a paid maternity leave policy for several weeks, something that we all envied. As a result, I decided to investigate the policies on maternity leave or parental leave around the world.

The first link shows an infographic for paid maternity leave in various countries. The following data really made an impression on me: Uzbekistan with 114 weeks, Mongolia with 156 weeks, Azerbaijan with 165 weeks, and Ukraine with 166 weeks. Due to the countries’ economic status within the world, I did not expect the aforementioned countries to implement such paid policies for multiple weeks. Furthermore, Finland surpassed all of the other countries with its policy of 167 weeks of paid maternity leave. Finland, a high-income country with a healthcare ranking of 31 according to the World Health Organization, offers an attractive maternity leave policy without compromising the economy or health care of the country, two common criticisms of paid maternity leave.

Unfortunately for us, not only does the United States rank lower on the health care list, but they also fail to provide paid maternity leave. According to the infographic, the United States offers ZERO WEEKS of paid maternity leave. This statistic confused me, for we discussed the maternity leave, minimal but existent, in the United States during Cami’s presentation. Thus, I inquired about the leave in the United States. During my research, I discovered the difference between our country and the rest of the countries in the world. According to the United States Department of Labor and the Family Medical Leave Act passed by President Bill Clinton, companies must provide employees with 12 WEEKS OF UNPAID maternity leave. Therefore, although the United States may offer more maternity leave than the Philippines (nine weeks paid) or the United Arab Emirates (six weeks paid), the latter two pay their employees unlike the United States. Thus, I pose the following question to you all: What influences the maternity or family leave policies in various countries? I believe that the culture in the United States contributes to the current policy in the country.

One thought on “Maternity Leave around the World

  1. Thank you for your very informative post! I agree with you that it is the culture of the United States that shapes this policy. Reading this, I thought about how much paid vacation workers in the United States get compared to other countries – apparently, the US is the only developed country in the world without a legal minimum amount of paid vacation days! Not that nobody in the US get’s time off, but the fact that we don’t have a policy for it is fascinating, especially while countries in the European Union are required to provide at least 4 weeks of paid vacation time. So, I’m sad to say I’m not surprised that the US gives absolutely no paid maternity leave. I am surprised, however, that there haven’t been any social or political moves to challenge it. I personally believe that paid maternity leave would be a step towards eliminating the “glass ceiling” and gender wage gap. Hopefully this something that can be changed in the future.

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