maternity leave around the world

Tara - posted on 02/20/2011 ( 47 moms have responded )

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When women have babies, most would agree that they should be able to remain at home with their child. Doing so facilitates a more solid bond, a stronger breastfeeding relationship, prevents ppd and generally makes for an easier and more rewarding experience for the family as a whole.

The following link will take you to a graph of maternity leave stats around the world. It is broken down into geographical areas.

Check out the US and Australia compared to the majority of the rest of the world.
Making it easier for moms to stay home with their babies rather than return to work would help to solve a lot of the social problems in the US, as well as reducing the numbers of health related costs associated with sending infants to day care and moms to work.

http://www.apesma.asn.au/women/maternity...

What do you think?

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Isobel - posted on 02/20/2011

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The bills aren't so bad when you are talking about 55% either though, because it's 55% of your gross, not your net AND once you take away the costs of going to work, dress clothes, travel, possibly childcare...for me I think it actually felt like I had the same amount of money if not more.

Krista - posted on 02/20/2011

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Sharon, to address some of your points:

1. Covering workload: In Canada, where most mothers take their full year, the company will often hire a temp, or will hire externally, stating upfront that it is a year-long term position, in order to cover a maternity leave. Obviously, we manage somehow to make it work, as women in Canada are still having babies, and our economy hasn't collapsed. In smaller offices, it can be an inconvenience, but once again, they manage somehow.

2. Paying your bills: You manage. Things do tend to be a little tight for that year, but you save a bit of money too, by not having to commute back and forth to work every day. Of course, there are some mothers who elect to not take their year, because they can't get by on the reduced income.

3. Source of pay: Our employers are not required to pay us while on mat/parental leave. It comes out of our federal Employment Insurance, which we pay into all of our working lives. (It's a small, income-based automatic deduction off of every paycheck, separate from our income taxes.) So my employer does not have to pay me for not doing my job. I'M the one who's paying me for not doing my job. Some generous employers will "top up" the employee's mat leave so that they receive full salary, but that's rare.

Personally, I think the maternity leave situation in the US is shameful. Having to put a tiny little newborn in daycare -- that's GOT to be seriously stressful for both mother and baby.

Tara - posted on 02/20/2011

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In Canada we pay into Employment insurance, which covers mat leave, parental leave (sorry forgot to include that in my op, and sick leave)
We pay into it every pay cheque. So we do get paid while not doing our job because our job as parents is valued in Canada.
Our jobs are also secure until the time frame of our allowable leave is up, our employer must offer us our same position or another equal pay position when we return.
We must accumulate at least 600 hours before being able to claim a leave.
I was also surprised at some of the less affluent countries having such a high rate of compensation and extended mat leaves.
Leaves one wondering why the US doesn't see the merit of such policies.

[deleted account]

In the UK the maternity leave has changed since 2001 - we now get a years maternity leave. The statutory maternity pay (SMP) structure is - the first 6 weeks = 90% of our wages, then up until 9 months we get a standard figure weekly, then the final 3 months is without pay, some employers bump up the payments (I know a girl who got 100% pay for 6 months) but for the majority it is the SMP. Daddy is entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave which is also paid at a standard flat rate. The government pays us for our SMP (as it does with our statutory sick pay), so it doesn't cost the employers anything.



Most employers do one of two things with the womans workload, 1 - they hire someone on a temporary maternity cover contract or 2 - they spread the womans workload between the existing employees.



I think no maternity pay is really harsh and encourages women to go back to work when they are not necessarily in a state to do so, the first few months can be really hard on the parents physical and mental wellbeing (lack of sleep etc) and if parents have no money saved they may be forced to return to work.

Becky - posted on 02/21/2011

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I took my full year off, then applied for a year unpaid LOA, and when that was up, I applied for another year, because I'd had another baby and he was only 5 months old. They gave me 7 months, until he would be a year. When that was up, I quit. :) I did have a career, and I loved it, but I love being at home more.

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Ianina - posted on 02/22/2011

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Hi girls, I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We have 90 days for the first kid and +10 days for future kids, with 100% payment. Plus, you can take maternity leave with no payment at all after that.
I have free daycare at my work so I'm covered for that, Thank god!! Since I'm having twins in 10 weeks

Krista - posted on 02/22/2011

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Brandi, I already addressed that. Here in Canada, in a lot of cases, they will temporarily hire someone to cover your position.

Or, if you work for a larger company, sometimes another employee will cover your job for a year, giving that person a chance to develop some new skills and experience, and they'll hire a temp or something to cover that person's workload.

There aren't too many cases where a bunch of women are having babies at the same time. It does happen. At my company's Quebec office, there were 5 women off on mat leave at once at one point. And you know, it was a challenge for my company. But, we managed. We got by just fine. All of those women came back, and life moves on.

It's really not this earth-shattering thing, and strangely enough, it hasn't hurt Canada's economy any.

Brandi - posted on 02/22/2011

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I am not sure. It seems like they shouldn't have to hold your job for you that long...

I live in the US. Yes, it would have been nice to have a long, paid maternity leave. But, we survived with no pay, and I was only out for 4 weeks.

I hated not being paid, but a year holding your job is a bit much. It almost isn't fair to the company. What do they do if everyone has a baby at the same time, who works??

Iris - posted on 02/22/2011

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I am from Iceland and honestly, that chart is all wrong for my country.



Back in 1999 when I had my first daughter over there, I was a secretary at a big firm. I was entitled to a 6 months maternity leave on full pay or a year on 50% the whole time.



Today, I highly doubt that they all of a sudden reduced it down to 2 months as it says on the OP chart. I have plenty of friends over there that would be screaming Bloody murder!! if that was the case.

Sarah - posted on 02/22/2011

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When I had my eldest, it was 6 months paid maternity leave, and then you could take a further year unpaid.
With my youngest, it was 9 months paid and then the option of a year unpaid.
Presume it's still the same now.

I can't imagine how we would have coped without maternity pay to be honest!!

[deleted account]

I am so thankful to be able to stay home with my kids in these early years. To me they are so precious and to miss them would have been harder for me then the financial stress we have now. I am only 24 so i will have plenty of time ahead of me for a career. So for now i cherish every moment i have at home with my kids.

[deleted account]

I was a stay at home mum for a few years. Would have driven me nuts if I didn't go to adult ed classes, just to keep my mind ticking over! Then I went back to uni to get a post-grad qualification.

Charlie - posted on 02/21/2011

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Personally I feel like I have my whole life to return to my career but I can't get back these young years with my boys , I DO feel like I am lucky to be able to stay at home I know plenty of people who have to work for financial reasons.

I know some people feel like staying at home isn't their cup of tea and that is fine IMO I can respect that need , occasionally I feel like I would like to go back but in the end I would rather be at home with the boys and I hope (paid) working mothers can respect that too ( and I only say paid because SAHM work hard too :D )

Jenn - posted on 02/21/2011

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I don't know anyone (in Canada) that has NOT taken their full year off, and many have not gone back to their job/career, while some have. I personally did not get any maternity leave because I didn't qualify, but I'm a SAHM (have been for 3 years now). I feel a bit hurt that some people feel like staying home has to equal boredom. Life is only what you make of it.

Tara - posted on 02/21/2011

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I had a career too!! And after baby number 5 I stayed home full time (My ex and I had been working opposite shifts so I could homeschool during the day and work in the evening).
So I had really been a sahm during the day with 4 kids and then working for 8 hours. I actually loved my career though but I loved being home more, and found after number 5 I couldn't do both as happily anymore.

Johnny - posted on 02/21/2011

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I was more than happy to put my career on hold to stay home for the year. Frankly, I wish I could have afforded to do it until she started pre-school. I've been back part-time, and my current position is far more interesting & challenging than the one I left before mat leave. But I'd still rather be with my daughter. I find being a mom really interesting too. I will be going back full time in the fall, and I will be sad to spend so muc h time away from her. If I won the lottery tomorrow, no question, I'd put my career on hold until she was in school full-time. I am looking forward to when she is older and in school full-time and I can focus on my work again, but like Jodi, right now, I find I'm just not that interested.

I think that SAHM work jives more for some than others. It's like any job, some people find it more of a good fit than others. I never felt bored except for those first few months, and that was mostly because I hadn't really figured out what was going on yet. But now, I find I have a hard time keeping up with my "mom" work because my job keeps geting in the way, lol.

Jodi - posted on 02/21/2011

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Funny thing is, I WAS passionate about my career, and I was really well paid for it, and now.....I just am not interested any more. Go figure.....

Charlie - posted on 02/21/2011

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Well I had a career , one I loved and was passionate about but I don't plan on returning to that career until Cooper starts school .

Jodi - posted on 02/21/2011

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@ Laura....I had a career, a very good one. I don't want to go back to it :P

Isobel - posted on 02/21/2011

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Ahhh, but Sharon, that's the difference between a job and a career...you WANT to go back to a career ;)

Jessica - posted on 02/21/2011

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I was going to say what Amy said- in the US at least, they say 12 weeks but that's only if you're lucky enough to be covered by FMLA and can afford to take that long off. Many, many people take less than that, either because they aren't covered by FMLA or can't afford to.

I am a SAHM and feel lucky that its worked out for us. I'm not a career-oriented person. I have a psychology degree and decided to have kids, lol :) If I had built up a career first, I could see maybe not wanting as much as a year off. I still think though that those first few weeks are precious and would hate to feel like I HAD to go back to work, whether I was ready to or not.

[deleted account]

I took my full years mat leave then decided not to go back to work although tbh I knew I wasn't going to go back but I wanted to be sure we could afford it before I told my boss (but he knew because he knew me and my priorities). So the three months unpaid leave (which took me to my year) was really helpful, it showed my hubby and I we could survive on his wage and still have fun and a little luxury.

For me although I was very career minded it was only because we couldn't have kids so I threw myself into that, even as a kid I knew I wanted to be a mom and that I wanted to stay home if I could because I feel that is the best way to raise my kids because I can focus on them and give them the quality time they need (I am only speaking about my own situation and aren't making any judgement on anyone elses situation).

Merry - posted on 02/21/2011

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Some women never go back to work at all!

I know many many stay at home moms who don't have a paid job.

I have a babysitting job, so I'm still with Eric 24/7 but my plan is to soon be able to not have any sort of job.

Time away from Eric feels awful. And I'm going to homeschool, so no paid job in my future!

Jenni - posted on 02/21/2011

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I'm not the career-oriented type. I mostly work for temp agencies or cashier jobs. So in my case I would have taken the full year. But with both my kids I didn't acquire enough accumulative hours in a 52 week period to qualify for Mat/Pat/EI benefits.

[deleted account]

Do a lot of moms really and honestly take up to a full year off? I can only shar emy experience, but I hated being home. I felt housebound and bored out of my mind! I did participate in mom groups, but I just felt so isolated from my work peers. I craved going back to work!

I had my son Feb. 11th. School continued until the end of May. Then summer break June/July. I returned to work the 2nd week of August. So I was out of teaching for 5 1/2-6 months. (Then hubby took 3 weeks vacation time to stay home). I knew that I was never cut out to be a SAHM even in those early months!

Desiree - posted on 02/21/2011

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Jennifer I am from South Africa. The chart is misleading because it only shows that get UIF (unemployment Fund) which are above the threashhold. Those who earn less get full maternity from the companies while on maternity. I know thats how is works in my company. If You earn above the threashhold you need to find some other way of having time to have a child. And then we get hose wondrful people who never work who live off the hard taxes I earn and pop out babies like thier is no tomorrow because they know they will get housing grants, child welfare and unempolyment. They end up earning more than a number of people and the worst of these offenders are the teenagers who are avoiding school. Yet they are the first to complain that they never had an education. Sorry I am so sick of the nonsense coming out my own country it makes me mad. We have potential the problem is the potential we have is waisting time being stupid and expecting it to fall into thier laps. I don't favour wasterals.

Jenni - posted on 02/21/2011

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Where are you from? South America? I guess the chart can be a bit misleading. Our time (Can) allowed to receive benefits is a max of 52 weeks (if you incl sick time). So I guess I shouldn't be complaining.

Desiree - posted on 02/21/2011

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jennifier would it surprise you to know that is only if you earn below a certain pay rating. If you earn above it the company is not obliged to pay your salary for the time you are off and you have to claim from unemployment which is less than half your earnings. And that is in SA. We get 4 months matenity leave but only if 1 you are under the pay bracket or 2 if you can afford it.

And no we don't get paternal leave either it come out of your family responsibility leave which is only 3 days per year. toughs if you have used it because then you have to take annual leave. Although I hear some of the damned Unions are baying for it. and 4 months no less. and the way men create children in this country and have many wives and lovers that is one scarry thought.

Erin - posted on 02/21/2011

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The Australian system still needs some work but we are on our way. The fact that employers are required to hold your job for a year is a good safety net. The baby bonus payments are a huge help. And the new 18 week scheme is a step in the right direction. I love that our government values mothers and babies.

Becky - posted on 02/20/2011

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I think it's absolutely pathetic that the poorest countries in the world give better maternity benefits than the richest one does!

Iridescent - posted on 02/20/2011

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I hate the plan in the US. With 0% pay, and needing 2 incomes in many households to survive, it's hard. While you're allowed up to 12 weeks, many fathers do not get any leave (not federally required yet), and the mothers can't afford to be off work that long. They often go back as soon as they physically can, sometimes that's only 2 weeks, for a C-Section it's 4-6 weeks.

Charlie - posted on 02/20/2011

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I received $5000 two and a half years ago for my first child for my second I received over $5000 Australia has now brought in maternity leave as of January .

I think it is wonderful that the government is thinking about helping parents have the opportunity to spend whatever time they choose at home for the first few months and no doubt it would help increase breastfeeding rates the benefits that follow would help everyone as a nation .

[deleted account]

Wow Kimberly thats an awesome agreement and very unusual in Australia. I think i may have wanted to go back to work knowing how much they look after their employees.

Kimberly - posted on 02/20/2011

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I'm in Australia and I'm one of the lucky people who worked for a company that has the best mat leave here which is 12 weeks at full pay or 24 weeks at half pay you get to choose then you can take all your holidays as well. You can take up to two years off and still be gaurenteed your job and if you fall pregnant in those two years you can take another two years unpaided without returning to work. You are also still allowed to get the government payment leave too. Its made it a little easier not to be working but one income either way sucks when things suddenly happen

Jodi - posted on 02/20/2011

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Australia changed this year. As Shannen said, there is now 18 weeks minimum wage paid by the government (so that's about $575 a week from memory). We have had a baby bonus for years - I can't remember how much it is now, but when I had my 6 year old, I received a $3000 payment. It never counted as a maternity leave payment, but it was a payment that helped. Things are progressing forward here with respect to maternity leave.

I also think we are well ahead of things with a 12 month parental leave - employers are required to keep your position open for you for 12 months. They can only deny that to you if you have not first worked for them for longer than a year, or if you are a casual worker.

[deleted account]

I have been SAHM for nearly 5 years so i had look up what our new system is for paid leave which has only just come in through our government.
In Australia we, if you have worked for the company for 12 months, get 18 weeks minimum wage. It can be paid by either the government or the employer, I'm not sure how it works.
We don't pay into it as far as i know.
My hubby works his arse off and gets paid ok for it but not enough to survive so we have the government help us out. I have also enrolled in Uni so that when my youngest child starts school i should be fully qualified and for the course i am doing it is high demand so i should be able to get a job as soon as i need to. I do get stir crazy staying at home with the kids but i am so thankful to live in Australia and hav e the opportunity to stay at home and raise my children.

Krista - posted on 02/20/2011

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Between you, me and the lamppost, Mary, I went a little nuts while on mat leave as well. Mind you, I live in a very rural area with not a lot of "mama and me" type activities, so our world became very, very tiny.

However, I still like that I at least had that CHOICE to stay my full year, if I'd wanted to. Fate intervened, in the form of a new job opportunity.

But I can definitely say that I would not have been ready at 6 weeks, which is all of the mat leave my mom would have had when I was born.

Staying home for a year isn't everybody's cup of tea, but it's certainly nice to have that option available.

Mary - posted on 02/20/2011

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I think I would have lost my mind if I had stayed home for a full year. Maybe it has to do with having my daughter a little later in life, but I craved the social and intellectual stimulation of my job...as well as feeling competent and productive again.

I stayed home for 14 weeks after my daughter was born. Initially, the plan was for me to return part time, but the shitty economy intervened; my husband was laid off 3 weeks before I delivered. Although he had find employment shortly after she was born, it was nowhere near what he had been making. I returned to work full time - which for me, was 3 12hr nights a week.

We were fortunate, in that I did not need to utilize daycare; my parents watched her two afternoons a week, and my husband was able to go in later in the day so that I at least got 2-3 hours of sleep before having to get up and care for her. I also often slept some more when she napped, if I could.

As for my pay - my employer offers short term disability, at no cost to all of it's employees, so I did receive 80% of my pay for the first 6 weeks, and then 3 weeks of vacation time. Luckily, I am a frugal girl, so we had a hefty enough savings account that this was not a financial hardship for us.

I also managed to breastfeed beyond a year - my returning to work had no impact on that whatsoever. Actually, every single woman I work with has breastfed, and has not found returning to work an impediment to nursing for as long as they wished to continue.

I stopped working this past fall, just before my daughter turned 2. Honestly, I think she is benefiting more from me being home with her now, than she would have been when she was under a year. Now is the age when she is learning so much, and interested and capable of doing more - from interacting with other toddlers at story time, her little gym class, or even the playground. We can spend our days going out and exploring the world around us, or learning how to build with mega blocks or playdough, or how to color and paint. I feel like she's getting a lot more out of having me home all the time now, than she would have at 6 months...when going to the park would have been her in the bjorn (or stroller, for others) as opposed to her checking out every stick, rock, leaf, flower and puddle out there.

Financially, I can't stay home forever, but I'm glad that I'm doing it now, as opposed to that first year of her life.

Merry - posted on 02/20/2011

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Makes me glad we were able to live without needing me to go to work full time after Eric was born.
I worked about 15-20 hours a week at a pet store, 3-4 hour shifts in the morning 6-9 or 6-10 am and my husband kept Eric for that time as his job delivering pizza never had a shift start before 11am.
We just didn't have money to eat out, go to movies, buy clothes, buy electronics, buy anything new, or do fun stuff that costed money.
it is worth it for us.
Now I work 20 hours a week as a babysitter and I bring Eric with me! And matt has two jobs and is a full time college student. It sucks I had no paid leave, but we made it work without using daycares or babysitters or family sitters. Just had to adjust our priorities :)

[deleted account]

So what happens to the work load if a mother does not return to work? SOMEONE has to do the work! How are bills going to get paid if they are not receiving full compensation? I know I had to accumulate my sick time to use for maternity leave. When my sick time ran out, I simply didn;t get paid. Maybe it's just a different attitude here in the states, and I can't certainly speak on behalf of anyone besides my own experience. But I wouldn't expect to get paid for not doing my job. FMLA allows for 12 weeks time off but does not require a employer to pay you, jus tto hold your job and not give it away to anyone. The only stipulation is that you need to be employeed for a full year and the company has to employ a certain number of people.

Johnny - posted on 02/20/2011

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Those statistics reflect maternity leave, but many of those countries have parental leave as well. As Janet mentioned below, in Canada for example the combination of maternity and parental gives a year of coverage. I noticed Malawi listed at 12 weeks, but I know they also have parental leave, as my girlfriend just had twins there. She'll actually be getting longer for twins. I'm not sure what the financial compensation for it is.

Jenni - posted on 02/20/2011

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I find it surprising that so many 2nd and 3rd world countries offer 100% of wages. I'm a bit jealous, Canada offers 55% but that's sure better than nothing at all!

Janet - posted on 02/20/2011

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In Canada you are allowed 17 weeks of maternity leave and then 35 or 37 weeks of parental leave where one or either or both parents can take time off with 55% pay I believe it is, as long as you have accumulated 600 hours of paid work in the year before.

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