Parental leave policies are relatively new in the United States. The Family Employment Security Act (FESA) of 1984 required employers to give their workers up to 26 weeks for “care for a new child, a child’s illness, a spouse’s disability, or the employee’s own disability.” A 1986 revision added care for the elderly, and the act was renamed the Family Medical Leave Act. Later revisions expanded coverage, among other things providing for workers with a family member in the military and expanding the definition of “spouse” to include same-sex partners.
However, in none of these revisions has there been any requirement that leave be paid. The parental leave rules in America remain among the worst in the developed world. (Things are sometimes slightly better on a statewide level. These are the only states offering paid family leave in the U.S.)
Contrast the United States to Romania, which is generally considered the country with the best parental leave policy in the world. Mothers can take over 100 weeks off, at an average of 85% of their salary. Fathers can take five weeks off, during which time they are paid about 88% of theirs.
Interestingly, Romania is in a cluster of countries that tend to have the best parental leave policies in the world. These include Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia. Six of the 10 most accommodating nations for new parents, in fact, are found in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Baltic and Scandinavian nations are well represented throughout the top 25 best countries for parental leave as well. Conspicuous by their absence on the list are the English-speaking countries.
Here’s a complete list of the countries with the best paid leave for new parents.
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