Last week, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama again implored Congress to require paid maternity leave for all employees, mothers and fathers. He said that America is “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”
Sadly, he was right about maternity leave, at least. Believe it or not, the only countries in the world that still don’t mandate paid maternity leave are Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the United States of America. Take a second to let that sink in.
U.S. employees who work for employers that have more than 50 employees can take up to 12 “job-protected” unpaid work weeks per year to “bond with a newborn or a newly placed son or daughter,” per the Family Medical Leave Act. Did you catch the unpaid part? How about the more than 50 employees part, a key detail for the more than 21 million Americans clocking in at small businesses that employ 20 or fewer people?
Perhaps the best country for working parents is – no surprise here – Sweden, where parents are treated to 480 long paid days off per child. Moms and dads in the Scandinavian nation can share paid maternity leave and take it any time before their child reaches the age of 8. Must be nice.
For a look at how the rest of the world stacks up when it comes to maternity leave, check out the eye-opening infographic below from the folks at Citation, a British employment law compliance firm.