Here's how much paid leave new mothers and fathers get in 7 different countries

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NEW YORK CITY — The Trump administration earlier this year included a plan for paid parental leave in its 2018 budget proposal, with a stated goal of offering eligible workers six weeks of leave.

The proposal was a landmark: The US is one of eight the UN’s 193-member states that do not already have a national program for paid parental leave. Questions remain whether the proposal will ever make it into policy, but its inclusion highlights a national and international conversation about paid leave.

Business Insider has several editions worldwide, and we asked our international colleagues about the parental-leave policies in their respective countries. Several of them, including Ghana and Singapore, are talking about extending leave periods, and in some other countries, such as Australia, market forces are pushing companies to increase their support for new parents as they look to recruit and retain talent.

Here’s what parental leave is like in 7 countries.

Australia: There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months’ maternity leave.

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How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Time off before birth is not specified under law, but most women stop work a few weeks before their due date. There is a legal requirement to provide 12 months of maternity leave. New mums can also ask for an extra 12 months, for a range of factors, including if there are complications with health or in the family.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

The payment is $US695 per week, for a maximum of 18 weeks. Almost all new mums — anyone on a salary of up to $US150,000 per year — can access this. This includes small-business owners and one-person companies — for example, it applies to someone who provides a beautician service from home, even if that business is running at a loss. The qualifying criterion is that the person has been doing the same thing for 10 months of the 13 months before birth.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare in Australia is a major social issue, particularly in densely populated areas on the east coast. There is significant support for childcare: 50% of the cost is repaid by the federal government, though this isn’t available to families on high incomes. The amount of government relief is capped at over $US7,000 per year, a benefit aimed at encouraging people into work after the arrival of additions to the family.

Childcare can cost well in excess of $US100 per day in some parts of the major cities. There’s a shortage of childcare workers and childcare spaces in the major cities, and successive governments have wrestled with how to tackle it with varying levels of success. As a result, promises to include childcare benefits are a political weapon for the major political parties.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

Official statistics show that in 2011, over half (53%) of Australian mums had returned to work by the time their child was 2 years of age. For most, this was to part-time or reduced hours of work. It is a legal requirement that the role vacated for maternity leave is still available when a new mum is ready to return to work.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

New dads get two weeks off, at the national minimum wage of $US695, as long as they earned an individual income of $US150,000 or less. This ensures most dads get two weeks’ paid leave at home.

While these are the legally required minimums, Australia for many years was the only OECD country beyond the US to have no legally mandated maternity leave. This was changed in 2011, with the introduction of maternity leave for at least 12 weeks at the national minimum wage. Parenting support is now a major source of competition in some major professional sectors, with more generous work-life balance and in-office childcare facilities being among major draw cards that companies offer to attract staff.

Ghana: There are plans to extend maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks

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How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

There are plans to extend the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks for mothers.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

The pay is the same as the salary on an employment contract and does not change.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Private companies might enlist employees in health-insurance programs to offset some of the cost of childcare. Childcare is expensive and could cost as much as a $US1,000 a month.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

About 65%.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

As a father in Ghana, there is no paternity leave by law. But the Constitution Review Implementation Committee has proposed a statutory five-day paternity leave for male workers. In this review, the male worker will still be entitled to his salary.

— Godfred Akoto Boafo, Business Insider SSA Editor

Sweden: Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old

ABSOLUT ICEBAR STOCKHOLM by Kevin Krejci © 2017, Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Swedish mothers can go on maternity leave starting seven weeks before the due date, and may prolong it up to seven weeks after the birth. They are afforded additional time off for parenting courses.

Fathers are entitled to 10 days of paid paternity leave in conjunction with delivery (20 in the case of twins). These days can be taken anytime within 60 days of the baby’s leaving the hospital.

Both parents are allowed to stay off work until the child is 18 months old. They can choose to be paid during this time by taking from the paid parental leave quota of 480 days.

Mothers and fathers are entitled to 480 days (16 months) of paid parental leave (180 bonus days for twins) to split between themselves as they choose, though one parent cannot transfer more than 150 days onto the other.

The time off can be saved until the child is 8 years old. Legislation from 2014 states that new parents can save a total of 96 days after the child turns 4, and that these days can be used until the child turns 12. Parents with children under 8 are also legally provided with the right to work 32 hours a week instead of 40, if they so choose.

So, in theory, a parent (regardless of sex) could insist on being off work unpaid the first 18 months after the birth and after that they could be off work for another eight months based on paid parental leave (and up to another five months if they are granted the days of the other parent). That’s plenty of time to produce a new child to reset the allowance for time off and paid parental leave. With five properly spaced children a person could stay off work for a decade and have a legal right to reclaim their job afterward, and, if they felt like it, they could insist on working only four days a week for another six years.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

Parental leave pay is at sick-leave level for 390 of the total 480 days. If you have the average salary of $US4,000, your parental-leave pay would be $US2,600 (it’s actually 80% of regular pay for lower-income brackets). For the remaining 90 days of parental leave, the benefit is only $US22 a day.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare costs are means-tested and capped at $US150 per child per month, with the third child costing a maximum of $US50 per month and consecutive children free of charge, according to The Guardian. On the other hand, parents get child support of $US130 per month for each kid under 16, with a bonus which increases with a number of children you have. For example, if you have five kids you would get $US650 per month plus a bonus of $US350 and you would pay a maximum of $US350 per month in childcare costs.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

Statistics Sweden found that in 1990 only about 20% women had returned to work 12 months after childbirth. Average parental leave in the Nordic countries is longer than in other European countries.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Mothers and fathers have 480 days to divide among themselves as they choose. At least 90 days must be kept by each parent, so a father could take a maximum of 390 days (13 months) of paid parental leave on top of the 18 months of unpaid time off allowed after the baby is born. An increasing proportion of the total days of paid parental leave are used by fathers. In 2013, 25% of the total parental-leave days were used by men.

Singapore: Mothers get 16 weeks’ leave

Singapore by Jirka Matousek © 2017, Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Working mothers are entitled to either 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave. This depends on whether the child is a Singapore citizen, among other conditions. This maternity leave can be taken starting four weeks before delivery.

Under a new three-year pilot announced this year, public-sector officers and their spouses will get an additional four weeks of unpaid infant-care leave per parent. The government will decide if this should be rolled out nationally after the pilot ends in 2020.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

Working mothers are entitled to 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave if their child is a Singapore citizen.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Depending on which option you go for, prices can vary drastically, ranging from S$700 a month for the more affordable childcare centres to over S$2,000 a month for the premium brands.

A basic subsidy of S$300 is provided by the government to all parents with children who are Singapore citizens in childcare centres licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency, but getting additional subsidy fluctuates according to the household-income level.

For families that have a combined monthly income of S$7,500 or less, this additional subsidy can cover up to 99% of the childcare fees.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

There are no statistics for this, unfortunately.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

In Singapore, working fathers (including those who are self-employed), are entitled to two full weeks of paid paternity leave, funded by the government.

Working fathers also have the option of using their shared paternity leave — wherein they can apply to share up to four weeks of their spouse’s 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave, subject to agreement between both parties.

— Jessica Lin, Business Insider Singapore

Japan: Childcare leave runs until the child reaches the age of 1

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How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Mothers are able to leave six weeks before the expected due date (14 weeks, if expecting a twin). They are guaranteed a time off of eight weeks after giving birth. But they could return in six weeks if their doctor approves.

Japan also has childcare leave, which applies to both parents. This period begins after the guaranteed maternity leave mentioned earlier and runs until the child reaches the age of 1. This leave may be extended until the child reaches 14 months old, if both parents take leave, while it can extend to 18 months if only one parent takes leave.

What is the pay during the time off and how does it change over time?

Typically, companies do not pay salary during leave. Instead, social insurance covers the employee’s salary during maternity leave and labour insurance covers the salary during the childcare leave.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

A parent will receive tw0-thirds of their base salary for the first six months of leave. After six months, the amount is reduced to 50%. If the father takes leave after the first six months along with the mother, both parents will receive tw0-thirds of their base salary for 14 months.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, in 2015, 31.8% of full-time employees returned to work within a year of giving birth.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

Fathers are entitled to take 12 months off, just like mothers, and also receive compensation during the period. But only 2% of fathers eligible for leave took it in 2015.

— Shayna Olsan, BI Japan

The Netherlands: There’s a minimum of 16 weeks’ leave

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How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

If you translate it literally, we have ‘pregnancy leave’ and ‘delivery leave’ in the Netherlands.

You can stop working six weeks in advance of your expected due date (‘pregnancy leave’). If you’re feeling fine and want to work longer because you enjoy it, you can work until four weeks before your due date. This is required by the government. The days you didn’t take off in this two-week period you can add to your ‘delivery leave.’

When you’ve delivered the baby, you have the right to 10 weeks’ maternity leave (‘delivery leave’).

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

You will get the same salary as always. The company will receive a benefit from the government during your pregnancy and delivery leave. When you’re studying or receiving an unemployment benefit, the government will pay for your time off.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Yes. Depending on your income, you receive an allowance from the tax authorities if your child goes to registered childcare. Costs vary. The maximum daycare allowance you can get is 7.18 euros an hour. Most childcare costs about 7 or 8 euros an hour.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

According to the Dutch statistical office, CBS, 89% of the women returned to work within a year after childbirth in 2014-15.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

This is a point of discussion in the Netherlands. The partner has the right to two days paid time off, in which he or she also has to go to the local authority to register the baby. Further, the partner can take an additional three days time off without payment.

We’re in the middle of forming a new cabinet, but at the moment a majority of our House of Representatives want to extend paid paternity leave. Chances are something will change in the coming years.

Els van Asseldonk, BI Nederland

Germany: Mothers can take up to three years’ family leave

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How much time off, if any, is afforded before the baby is due? How much time off after the birth is afforded?

Before: six weeks; after: eight weeks. This jumps to 12 weeks if more than one baby is born. This is a must. After that, you can work or you can take family leave. That would be up to three years, but only one year with 60% of your last pay. If the father takes also two months, the time you get paid increases to 14 months.

What is the pay during the time off, and how does it change over time?

Mothers receive 13 euros a day, plus 65% of their last pay.

Is there any support toward childcare costs? How much does childcare cost?

Childcare is taken care of in some Bundesländer (a German state), when the child is older than 2 years. If the child is younger, or in some Bundesländer in general, the parents have to pay a certain percentage of their pay. When they earn more money, the part of the pay for the childcare will be higher.

What % of women return to work within a year after childbirth?

About 43% of women return to work after the first two years.

How much time off is afforded for paternity?

If the woman takes 12 months, a man can get two months’ paid leave, but it is also possible that the man takes 12 months off and the woman two months after that.

— Matthias Olschewski, Business Insider Deutschland

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