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Top 10 countries for maternity leave

9 April 2024 4 min read

maternity leave by country

Maternity leave around the world is complex, and the rules and entitlements vary greatly based on different circumstances. In no particular order, here are our top ten countries that provide the best, and most unique packages.

1. Belgium

Maternity leave in Belgium is generally set at 15 weeks, split into prenatal and postnatal leave. Belgium’s Health Insurance Fund takes care of payment.

2. Brazil

Women can get up to 120 days’ paid maternity leave in Brazil, and businesses that enroll in a federal government program known as Empresa Cidadã can include an additional 60 days of paid leave.

3. Costa Rica

Mothers in Costa Rica get 4 months’ parental leave on full pay. That’s 1 month prenatal, and 3 months after the birth. Employers share maternity leave payments with the Costa Rican Social Security fund.

4. Finland

Expectant mothers in Finland can begin their maternity leave 50 working days before their due date (at the earliest), and no later than 30 working days before the due date. Once their leave starts, they receive a pay allowance for 105 working days.

5. Germany

New mothers in Germany can take up to six weeks leave at full pay before their child is born, and up to 8 weeks at full pay after the birth.

6. New Zealand

Instead of maternity leave and paternity leave, New Zealand has primary care leave and partners leave. Individuals using primary care leave can be up to 26 weeks off work on government benefits. Partners leave extends to up to two weeks of unpaid leave, which partners can take any time in the period of 21 days before or after the child’s birth. In addition to primary care leave and partners leave, New Zealand parents can take up to 10 days of unpaid “special leave” for pregnancy appointments, and up to 52 weeks of extended unpaid leave to spend more time with their children.

7. Norway

Parents in Norway are entitled to 12 months’ of leave in connection with a birth, which is also paid through parental benefits. These 12 months include the mother’s entitlement of 12 weeks’ leave during the pregnancy, as well as 6 weeks’ leave which can only be used by the mother following the birth.

8. South Korea

When it comes to maternity leave in South Korea, there are slightly different rules for small companies and large companies. However, the difference is only in how much of an employee’s maternity leave allowance the government pays, and how much the employer pays. In each case, mothers are entitled to take up to 90 days’ leave, or 120 days if they have twins. At least 45 days of leave must be used following childbirth.

9. Sweden

As for maternity leave, new mothers in Sweden can take 240 days of paid leave, which they can start as early as 60 days before the expected due date.

10. Vietnam

Vietnam’s standard paid parental leave is 18 weeks. This is shared between two parents, but only one parent can take leave at any one time – there is also an option to apply for 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Expectant mothers can begin their leave up to 6 weeks before their due date.

How does the UK’s maternity leave entitlement compare?

The UK’s maternity leave entitlement is 52 weeks. This broken down into Ordinary Maternity Leave for the first 26 weeks, and Additional Maternity Leave for the last 26 weeks. Expectant mothers can begin their leave up to 11 weeks before their due date, unless their baby is born prematurely, in which case leave begins immediately following childbirth.

You can read more about UK maternity leave and pay here.

To calculate when a pregnant employee will need to start their maternity leave, and how their pay calculations will work, check out our free maternity leave calculator.

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Georgina at edays
April 9, 2024

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.