Maternity Leave Policies Around the World: Supporting Mothers and Families


Maternity leave is a critical policy that aims to support women during pregnancy and after childbirth, ensuring their health, well-being, and job security. It also contributes to the overall well-being of families and societies. This article explores the diverse maternity leave policies implemented across different countries, highlighting the efforts made to provide adequate support to working mothers.

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North America:

1.1 United States: The United States is one of the few developed countries with limited maternity leave provisions. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees working in companies with 50 or more employees. However, this leave is unpaid, making it challenging for many women to take time off without financial hardship. Some states have implemented state-level policies to bridge the gap, offering paid leave to new mothers.

1.2 Canada: In Canada, maternity leave is more generous. Under the Employment Insurance (EI) program, eligible working mothers can receive up to 55% of their average weekly earnings for 15 weeks. Additionally, parental leave is available for both parents, providing an additional 35 weeks of paid leave, allowing parents to split the time as they see fit.


2.1 Sweden: Sweden is often seen as a global leader in family-friendly policies. New mothers are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave, with 390 days paid at approximately 80% of their regular salary. This generous policy promotes gender equality and enables fathers to take an active role in childcare.

2.2 Germany: Germany provides new mothers with maternity leave for six weeks before the expected due date and up to eight weeks after childbirth. During this period, mothers receive their full salary through a social security program. Additionally, parental leave can be shared between parents for up to 14 months with job protection.


3.1 Japan: Japan offers a significant period of maternity leave, allowing women to take up to 14 weeks of leave before childbirth and up to eight weeks after. During this time, they receive a portion of their salary covered by health insurance. Japan is also working on improving work-life balance and encouraging fathers to take more parental leave.

3.2 India: In India, the Maternity Benefit Act provides eligible working mothers with 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, making it one of the most generous policies in the region. This policy aims to promote maternal health and support new mothers during the crucial postpartum period.


4.1 Australia: Australia offers eligible working mothers up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave at the national minimum wage through the Paid Parental Leave scheme. Some employers may also provide additional benefits, making the overall leave period even more flexible and supportive.

South America:

5.1 Brazil: In Brazil, new mothers are entitled to 120 days of paid maternity leave, extendable for an additional 60 days under certain conditions. During this period, they receive their full salary, ensuring job security while they care for their newborn.


Maternity leave policies around the world vary significantly, with some countries leading the way in providing comprehensive support for working mothers and families. While progress has been made, there is still room for improvement in many regions, especially in ensuring paid and extended leave periods. Supporting new mothers not only contributes to healthier and happier families but also fosters gender equality and economic stability for societies as a whole.

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