I know I'm not the only one thinking about it. Recently, a Redditor posted a New York Times map of paid leave for new mothers by country. And then the discussion started flowing as people shared their experiences with parental leave all around the world. Along with those, I also gathered some responses from the BuzzFeed Community. Here's what paid family leave looks and feels like around the world, according to people who have experienced it firsthand.
1. "I'm originally from the US but now I live in Germany. I honestly can't fathom having a baby in my home country. In Germany, I took off roughly 19 months of maternity leave with each child: six weeks leading up to my due date and eight weeks after were fully paid. I then received a reduced salary for the other months but I continued to be insured and under a pension plan. You can theoretically take three years of parental leave here, but the third year is unpaid. The benefit it that your employer legally has to take you back after and you continue to be insured/pensioned."
3. "In Romania, paid maternity leave is up to two years, and fathers can also request paternal leave."
4. "In France, you get six weeks off before labor and 10 weeks after. You may shift this split to four weeks and then 12 weeks with a doctor's note. This time off is mandatory and your pay is about 90%. For a country that's sometimes touted as 'socialistic,' this paid time off doesn't seem that much. I'm grateful but I would gladly take more!"
5. "In Austria, we have 16 weeks mandatory leave, eight before birth and eight after (or 12 if we have a C-section). There’s actually a lot of debate around this because the state literally doesn't allow women to work for the designated time away. This is seen by some feminist circles as harmful to women’s standing in the labor market. Personally, I was so glad I didn’t have to work past 32 weeks because I couldn’t sit or focus. I would have suffered through the last weeks if it weren't for the mandatory eight weeks before birth."
6. "My husband and I work for the same company in the United States. We recently found out that we must SHARE our 12 weeks of unpaid leave. We originally thought we would get 12 weeks per person. America really needs to start caring about parents and families. It's especially grating because I live in a religious red state where having families is a top priority, but the government isn't actually helping people to realize that goal."
7. "In Japan, maternity leave refers to the medical leave that mothers are entitled to take on either side of their due date. It is approximately six weeks prior to her due date and eight weeks post). There is no equivalent leave for fathers, but some employers offer leave in addition to the mandatory entitlements (such as a week or two of 'paid paternity leave') to fathers around the time of the birth."
8. "I gave birth on a Friday. By Monday morning, my husband’s boss wanted him back in the office. That was the end of his paternity leave in the US."
9. "New York State offers paternity leave for 12 weeks where fathers make 67% of their pay, capped at $1,068.37 per week."
10. "I'm from Kuwait and any woman giving birth gets a minimum of 70 days paid maternity leave by law. And if you work in the public sector, you can get paid leave for up to six months (or up to one year making 50% of your salary). When you are ready to go back to work the employer is not allowed to fire you either."
11. "In Canada, we have 12 or 18 months of maternity leave. You get paid 80% of your normal salary, but you get the same amount stretched out over either the course of a year or the 18 months."
13. "I live in the US. I had to go without a vacation or any time off for more than two years in order to accrue the measly seven weeks of parental leave I finally took. I couldn't afford to be without a paycheck, so I went back the day after my PTO (paid time off) ran out. It was awful. My milk supply was still regulating, no one was sleeping through the night, and within a couple weeks, I was hit with serious postpartum depression. This country can afford paid leave. We are literally the worst for not providing it."
14. "The best thing about Australia's parental leave is that your job is safe for a year. I took the whole year off (with my savings) and just started back at work this month. I'm in a slightly different role which suits me better now as a mum, and it was so lovely having the year off with baby knowing I had employment when I was ready to go back."
15. "I'm in Korea. I got five days of paternity leave. I guess I could have legally taken more time but it was actively discouraged by my work."
16. Slovakia here. My wife and I just had a baby boy. She will get three years of maternity leave and I will get six months of paternity leave while making 75% of my income. We also get all sorts of one-time bonuses, tax deductions, etc. I almost feel guilty for being financially secure despite not having to work for so much time."
17. "I am in no way trying to minimize the fact that I have paid leave in the UK while some countries offer none or little, but it's important to put our policy into context. We get 39 weeks of paid leave...but without an employer enhancement package (which many people don't get), people are making less than the legal minimum wage during parental leave. IMO, having some degree or paid leave shouldn't be the goal. Rather, maternity pay should be linked to minimum wage and cost of living everywhere."
18. "California teacher here. People assume that teachers get paid maternity leave (this is possibly because there are a lot of young professionals and mothers in the field), but the truth is we do NOT. We get zero days of paid leave. We get the federally mandated 12 weeks unpaid leave, but if we need financial support during that time we have to use our sick leave. This means that most of us can’t take the full 12 weeks off."
"I think a lot of us go into teaching with the hope that it will fit well into a parenting schedule (kids at school while you’re at work, summer and winter breaks) without realizing that we have very few options when it comes to maternity leave. Furthermore, if you get pregnant before getting tenured, there is a very real chance that you could lose your position. Teachers who are not tenured are on temporary contracts. When the school year ends, so does your job, unless the school 'invites' you back. Being pregnant does not improve your odds."