Countries With the Best Paid Leave for New Parents

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No event is more life-changing for a couple than welcoming a baby. Amid the joy of the event, parents in the modern world have tough decisions to make regarding how to integrate their work world with their new jobs as care-givers for a newborn. (See the cities with the best work-life balance in the world.)

The task can be particularly challenging in the U.S., which is one of the few countries in the world which doesn’t mandate paid parental leave. We do have a law requiring 12 weeks of leave for new mothers annually if they happen to work for companies with at least 50 employees – but they don’t get paid for their time off, unless the company they work for has instituted a paid leave policy of its own. (These are the labor laws your boss doesn’t want you to know about.)

The situation is vastly different in other parts of the world. To compile a list of the 25 countries with the best paid leave for parents, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report from the job search engine Lensa. Drawing data from a paper on parental leave systems worldwide from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Lensa created a ranking system to determine the countries offering the highest full-time pay equivalent for both parents, expressed in weeks.

Six of the ten most accommodating nations for new parents are found in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Baltic and Scandinavian nations are well represented throughout the top 25 as well. Conspicuous by their absence on the list are the English-speaking countries, including the United States. 

Fifteen countries offer moms more than 100 weeks off, and three – Slovakia, Hungary, and Finland – give them more than 160 weeks. In three nations – Estonia, Slovenia, and Spain – new mothers can collect 100% of their regular salary during their parental leave.  

Dads factor into the ranking of the best countries for paid-parental leave as well. The Asian nations of Japan and South Korea allow fathers total time off of 52 and 54 weeks, respectively – more than the other countries on the list. Most of the nations here give dads only one or two weeks; Slovakia doesn’t allow fathers paid time off at all. The average share of salary that fathers can collect during their time off, however short it may be, is 100% in seven countries: Spain, Chile, Turkey, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, and Estonia. 

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