Countries with Paid Maternity Leave

California Maternity Leave 2017

Free Image Source: Pixabay

Did you know that the USA is one of 4 Countries in the world that does not Guarantee their Moms Paid Maternity Leave?

But if you live in America, don’t despair, you can always move to one of the States that has Paid Maternity Leave Laws in place.

These 4 States have publicly funded Paid Maternity Leave:

  1. California – California Maternity Leave 2017
  2. New Jersey – New Jersey Maternity Leave 2017
  3. Massachusetts – Massachusetts Maternity Leave 2017
  4. Rhode Island – Rhode Island Maternity Leave 2017

Just in case you were wondering, the other 3 countries without mandated paid maternity leave are Swaziland, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea.

What really interested me, was the countries that offer the Best Maternity Leave Policies and whether that has an impact on breastfeeding rates and the duration of breastfeeding. Turns out it doesn’t really.  Sadly.  In most cases, it seemed to make no difference at all.

In my research, I found huge variations in data on different websites.

I found this info on – this article was published in August 2016: These 10 Countries have the Best Parental Leave Policies in the World

10 Countries with the Best Parental Leave Policies:

  1. Finland – 23 weeks, 7 weeks before due date, 16 weeks after, regardless of whether the mother is a student, unemployed, or self-employed plus 8 weeks paid paternity leave
  2. Denmark – 52 weeks in total, 18 weeks, 4 weeks before, 14 weeks after, at full pay plus 2 weeks paid paternity leave, thereafter parents can split another 32 weeks of leave
  3. Sweden – 18 weeks maternity leave plus 90 days paid paternity leave plus 480 days leave at 80% of their normal pay split between both parents
  4. Belgium – 15 weeks maternity leave or 8 months part-time leave, first 30 days at 80% pay, 75% pay for the rest of the time plus 10 days paternity leave at 100% pay plus 7 days at 82%
  5. Iceland – 9 months – 3 months maternity, 3 months paternity, another 3 months where they can split between the parents, at 80% pay
  6. Serbia – 20 weeks at 100% pay plus a full year leave: 100% pay for 26 weeks, 60% for weeks 27-39, and 30% for weeks 40-52, plus 1 week full paid paternity leave
  7. Norway – 35 weeks at 100% pay or 45 weeks at 80% pay, 10 weeks paternity leave depending on their wives’ income, plus together they can get an extra 46 weeks 100% or 56 weeks at 80% of their income.
  8. Hungary – 24 weeks 70%, can start 4 weeks before due date, plus one week 100% paid paternity leave, after which they can take 156 weeks, split between them at 70% of their salary for 104 weeks, and a flat rate for the rest.
  9. Estonia – 140 days at 100%, which may begin 30-70 days before due date plus 2 weeks paid paternity leave, plus 435 days between the parents at an average of their two earnings.
  10. Lithuania – 18 weeks at 100% plus 4 weeks paternity leave, plus an additional 156 weeks to share, either at 100% for the first 52 weeks (until the child turns 1) or 70% for the first 104 weeks (until the child is 2 years old). The remaining weeks are unpaid.

Wow!  I don’t know about you, but I’m keen to pack my bags and move to Lithuania!

The following information is gleaned from the OECD.   There’s a great article on the Epoch Times, 28 April 2016 explaining how the OECD’s full rate equivalent (FRE) calculation.  “This FRE number is equivalent to “the length of the paid leave in weeks if it were paid at 100 percent of previous earnings. So while the United Kingdom offers one of the longest maternity leaves, if a British mother opts to take advantage of all 39 weeks available to her, only 33 percent her gross average earnings will be paid out to her over the 9 months.”   Read full article here:

Read full article here: Countries with the Best Maternity Leave Policies

5 Countries with 100% Paid Leave

  1. Croatia – 30 weeks of 100% of their average insured earnings (insured for the year preceding their absence)
  2. Poland  – 26 weeks of 100% paid maternity leave to all employed women with no payment ceiling plus 2 weeks of 100%  paid paternity leave.
  3. Estonia – 20 weeks—or 140 days of 100% earnings and no ceiling on possible payments, no-strings-attached maternity leave.
  4. Mexico – 12 weeks with 100% payout of insured earnings (insured for 30 weeks in the year preceding the leave)
  5. Israel  – 14 weeks at 100% plus another 12 weeks unpaid leave to all employed and self-employed mothers. (if insured for 10 months out of the 14 preceding the absence).

Now let’s compare these policies with Breastfeeding Rates around the World.

It appears that Maternity Leave Policies have absolutely NOTHING to do with Breastfeeding Rates.  For example, here are the Top 20 Breastfeeding Countries in the World.  These figures are from WHO and are based on mothers who have exclusively breastfed their babies for 6 months.

Countries with 50% or More Mothers Breastfeeding Exclusively for 6 Months

Top Breastfeeding Countries 6 Months BF
1 Rwanda 85%
2 Sri Lanka 76%
3 Cambodia & Solomon Islands 74%
4 Malawi & Peru 72%
5 Nepal 70%
6 Eritrea & Kiribati 69%
7 Nauru 67%
8 Mongolia 66%
9 Bangladesh 64%
10 Uganda 63%
11 Togo 62%
12 Zambia 61%
13 Bolivia & Cabo Verde 60%
14 Papua New Guinea & Kyrgyzstan 56%
15 Liberia 55%
16 Lesotho 54%
17 Egypt and Iran 53%
18 Croatia & Tonga 52%
19 Samoa, Sao Tome & Principe 51%
20 Guatamala 50%

Now, this was interesting!  

Did you notice that 2 of the Countries with NO Maternity Laws in place whatsoever, Papua New Guinea and Lesotho appear on this list!  Swaziland is also not doing too badly either, at 44%.  See how the USA fares below.

Also, most of these countries are names most of us have never heard of – they are what we used to call 3rd world countries, or developing countries if you’re looking for a more politically correct term.

So I had to dig a little deeper to find the answer to my question, which is simply this:

Do countries with great maternity policies in place, have impressive breastfeeding rates?

I discovered that Save the Children puts out a Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard every year for Developed or Industrialised Countries. 

So I compared their Policy Scorecard with WHO’s Breastfeeding Stats.  Remember, that WHO’s Stats are based on Mothers who Breastfeed EXCLUSIVELY for 6 months.

Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard vs WHO’s Breastfeeding Stats

Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard 6 Months BF
1. Norway 7%
2. Slovenia No Stats on WHO
3. Sweden 14%
4. Luxembourg 6%
5. Austria 10%
6. Lithuania No Stats on WHO
7. Latvia 16%
8. Czech Republic 18%
9. Netherlands 18%
10. Germany 22%
11. Estonia No Stats on WHO
12. Poland 4%
13. Portugal 34%
14. France No Stats on WHO
15. Belgium 12%
16. Ireland 15%
17. Italy 5%
18. Switzerland 14%
19. New Zealand No Stats on WHO
20. Cyprus 12%
21. Denmark 17%
22. Greece 1%
23. Slovak Republic 49%
24. Spain 29%
25. United Kingdom 1%
26. Finland 1%
27. Israel 11%
28. Japan 21%
29. Hungary 44%
30. Liechtenstein 6%
31. Canada 26%
32. Iceland 13%
33. Monaco No Stats on WHO
34. Australia No Stats on WHO
35. Malta 36%
36. United States 19%

Hmm, surprising to see how many Countries with great Breastfeeding Policies in place have disappointingly low Breastfeeding Statistics!  

See Countries highlighted in RED on Chart above.

In fact, the only country with super duper parental leave policies that’s also doing well on WHO’s Breastfeeding Stats, is HUNGARY.  Unfortunately, could not find stats on WHO for Estonia and Lithuania. (Serbian Stats – 14%).

Amazingly, FINLAND and the UK have some of the LOWEST breastfeeding rates, at 1%.  (Some reports say the UK are actually only 0.5%).

And, although the USA ranks last on the Breastfeeding Policy Scorecard they, by no means, have the lowest percentage of Mom’s achieving WHO’s minimum requirement of 6 months exclusive breastfeeding.

It’s also encouraging to note that Breastfeeding Rates are on the Rise in the US.

The CDC puts out the Breastfeeding Report Card every 2 years. They were doing so every year since 2007 to 2014.   Download the CDC 2016 Breastfeeding Report Card

For more information on Maternity Leave in the USA, go to  Leave Advice.

Featured Image: Labelled for Reuse with Modification  Image Source:  Philippe Put –


About Lauren Kinghorn

Visionary Digital Entrepreneur ► Mompreneur | Content Creator | Affiliate Marketer | Influencer

2 Replies to “Countries with Paid Maternity Leave”

  1. Lynne Huysamen

    OH wow, Lithuania has some incredible maternity leave policies! I wouldn’t have minded taking advantage of that when I had my babies. Thanks for all this interesting information. I also would have thought that countries with good maternity leave benefits would have higher rates of breastfeeding. Go figure right?


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