Friday, November 16, 2012

Maternity leave around the world

Recently in the news, you may have heard that the UK is planning to give the option of "shared parental leave" in which the mothers and/or the fathers can take off work. This is a great option, considering how nowadays many women earn more than their husbands. Still, though, with breastfeeding, women remain the sole food sources (don't you wish husbands could breastfeed too?)

I was thrilled when I went on maternity leave - I felt so lucky that I lived in a country (Canada) that supports the parent/child bond. Plus, how can you throw them in daycare when they can't even walk yet? Here you get 52 weeks off work with 55% of your pay. Not to mention, the dads can apply for paternal leave for 35 weeks. And on top of that, every child gets a cheque of $100 a month for child-related costs AND another cheque based on your combined income (anywhere from $30 - $100).

So what does maternity leave look like around the world?

Sweden - 68 weeks off work with 80% pay, can be split between mums/dads.
Croatia & Serbia & Denmark - 52 weeks off work at FULL pay.
UK - 52 weeks off work with 90% pay.
Norway - 46 weeks off work with FULL pay and the dad is required t.o take 12 weeks off minimum.
Canada - noted above!
Albania - 52 weeks off work: 6 months with 80% pay, 6 months with 50% pay.
Cuba - 18 weeks off work at full pay, and 40 weeks at 60% pay.
France - 16 weeks off work with FULL pay, and up to 3 years off work with job protection, and money from the government for childcare, nannies, allowances.
Brazil - 4 months off work, full pay (BUT free childcare until age 6)

China - 12 weeks off work, full pay.
Malaysia - 8 weeks off work, full pay.
India - 12 weeks off work, full pay.
Japan - 14 weeks off work, 67% pay.
UAE - 5 weeks off work, full pay.
Tanzania - 11 weeks, full pay (but only once every 3 years minimum)
Papua New Guinea - 12 weeks off work, unpaid.
USA - 12 weeks off, unpaid (but only if you work in a company that has more than 50 people)

The differences are huge between the best and the worst - you can tell which countries are more family oriented. Norway has the great idea that the dads are required to take 3 months off - because mums aren't the only ones who are kept up all night! And the UAE is by far the worst - only 5 weeks? Milk production hasn't even reached proper levels at that time! The USA is truly shocking. Not only does it cost thousands of dollars to have your baby in the hospital, but then you only get 12 weeks off with NO PAY, only if you work for a big company. And don't get me started on the American health insurance...ugh! That was truly a deciding factor for us when we chose to move back to Canada, which I am so so so grateful for.

My maternity leave ends this June, and since it started, I have christened this "the year of fun" where I get to just enjoy my baby. Every day I try to do something fun with her and just live in the moment, to take it all in. Life with a baby moves so quickly and if you blink you'll miss a big milestone. I'm also using this year to focus on my health - eating right, getting outside - because there's nothing more scary than feeling physically handicapped for 9 months as I was during my pregnancy. I've also been using this time to reflect about the future, about what I'll do after - whether it is to return to work part-time or just continue to stay at home. Who knows? I'm just living in the moment, until next June!
The 52 weeks off is crucial for reflection - everything changes when you have a baby. You can't decide anything in a few weeks with such a major life shift. Plus, it is so important to get to know your baby - their rhythms - and not to mention, so special as a parent/child bond.



  1. Hi,

    Stumbled upon your blog today, and discovered that we both have daughters very close in age. Ours was born end of June, 2012. Even more interestingly, "Maya" was one of names in our baby list! Your Maya looks very cute!

    I noticed something in this post and thought to ask a clarifying question: In the list of countries with worst maternity leaves, I see you've put India, with 12 weeks, full pay. Do you have a specific source for this information or is this anecdotal? Is this for government jobs or the private sector?

    Why I ask this, is because I know of a number of people in India, in government jobs, who get up to a year off, full pay! I also know of people in the private sector who get 6 months, full pay! I'm envious of them! Here in the US, my wife got 12 weeks unpaid (but covered under FMLA, for about 60% of her pay).

    ~ Krishanu

    1. Hi Krishnau,
      Thank for reading! Congrats on your baby! I can't believe my Maya is a toddler already. It went by so fast.
      That is wonderful to hear that your friends in India had got more time off on maternity leave, it is so important for a woman.

      I found some of my info on here:

      If you can give me a link regarding your info on the longer maternity leaves in India you were talking about, I will correct that part on my article.
      Thanks for the clarification :)

    2. Ohkay, thanks for the references! Seems like "female employees of the Central Government of India receive 180 days of leave", as per Wikipedia. Various states government might have different rules. Who knows! I was curious to know if there actually were any set rules.

      Incidentally, you trod upon a very Indian (more specifically, South Indian) faux pas, when you wrote down my name as "Krishnau" instead of Krishanu :D
      Documented here =>

    3. Sorry for the faux-pas! I'll remember for next time. Although it's interesting that I pronounced it the South Indian way as opposed to the American...a coincidence? I think not...looks like I'm more South Indian than I realize ;) hahaha..

      I can relate to the name confusion because in the US everyone called my husband "MAD-HAVEN" - the Americans with their large vowels (especially A - which becomes "Aaay") couldn't figure out how to pronounce the Indian "dha"! (His name is Madhavan)

      When I was researching this article I remember going onto an Indian Gov't website in which they had explained the maternity leave - but it was incredibly confusing. So I think you are right, that it all depends on the company. But it looks like the "flat rate" is the 12 weeks, it seems.

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