While women were fighting to become part of the workplace and then to get equal pay, many company owners came up with the “issue” that they do not hire women or pay them equally as men because women leave when they undergo pregnancy. While this is a story from the past, women especially in America, still have to deal with hollow maternal leave policies.
There are 193 countries under United Nations and so far only 11 of these countries do not have proper paid parental leave policies today. While America takes pride in being one of the most up-to-date, modern, advanced and techno-savvy countries in the world, there’s no clear policy of maternal leave.
The American Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the only law that can be thought of as maternal leave instead. You get up to 12 weeks and maintenance of employees’ health benefits. However, it is unpaid mostly and comes with restrictions on who is eligible.
The minimum maternity leave policy (14 weeks of paid leave) was established decades ago, and today, many countries exceed that minimum. About 50 countries today provide applicants with six months or more of paid maternity leave! And what comes to you as a surprise is that now many countries also give fathers the right to apply for paternal leaves.
Sweden allows both parents to apply for paternal leave. This leave is applicable until the child is 18 months old. Along with that, Swedish mothers are allowed to start their maternity leave seven weeks before the due date and they also have the option to extend it to seven weeks after giving birth.
Parents can also apply for additional time off in case they are taking any parenting courses. When parents go on their leave, they are allowed to be paid if they like. The paid parental leave quota is of 480 days which is equal to 16 months.
If parents have twins, they can get an additional 180 days off work. Parents can apply for this leave anytime they need to till the child is of 8 years. That means if parents do not apply for leave when their child is an infant, they can do so before he/she is 8 years of age.
In Japan, employees are entitled to receiving childcare leave until their newborn is 1 year of age. With that, new mothers are openly allowed to stop coming to work six weeks before their due date. If they are expecting twins, they can take the leave 14 weeks before their due date.
After giving birth, mothers receive the guarantee that they can take time off work. The period of this leave can last for weeks. With the doctor’s approval, mothers can also return to work after 6 weeks.
Their childcare leave policy also applies to both; mothers and fathers. While the employers are not responsible to give paid maternal/paternal leave, the government-based social insurance helps the parents by covering the employee’s salary.
Additionally, the federal labor insurance covers the salary during paternal leave/childcare leave.
Among countries that provide a good policy for maternity leave, Australia is quite popular. While giving new mothers weeks off work before birth is not mentioned under the maternity law, most working women begin taking the leave from work a few weeks before their date.
Australia’s law mentions that the requirement is to give applicants 12 months of maternity leave. Additionally, new mothers can also ask for an extra 12 months. This depends on a range of factors. For example, if there are complications with health, in the family and so on.
With that, you get paid $695 per week for a max time of 18 weeks. New mothers, especially those with a salary of up to $150,000 per year get access to this. Still, Australian child care law needs a lot of work.
These three countries are only an example of the better policies of maternity leaves that are applicable to employees around the world. When compared with American childcare leave, these policies showcase that laws in other countries are far ahead of America.
While in America its hard to become eligible for childcare leave, other countries prioritize the newborns and the health of their employees. So, once you begin comparing you can easily pinpoint the huge gap in maternity leaves.