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How many weeks’ paid maternity leave do women get across the globe?

Anastasia Santoreneos
What does maternity leave look like across the globe? Source: Getty
What does maternity leave look like across the globe? Source: Getty

Paid maternity leave across the globe varies – and widely at that.

US consumer rights advocacy group, Public Citizen, tweeted how many weeks of paid maternity leave women get across the globe, with Bulgaria providing the most at 59 weeks’ worth of leave, and America providing the least, at 0 weeks’ worth.

Greece was second, with 43 weeks of leave, followed by Britain at 39 weeks, Serbia at 34 weeks and Croatia at 30 weeks.

The Czech Republic offers 28 weeks of leave, Ireland offers 26, Hungary offers 24, Italy offers 22 and Luxembourg, Poland and Estonia offer 20.

Australia is among 8 countries that offer 18 weeks of paid leave.

Japan, Korea, Norway and Sweden offer 13 weeks of paid leave, and Portugal only offers 6.

How does maternity leave work in Australia?

The government will pay Australian women Parental Leave Pay for up to 18 weeks at $740.60 per week before tax – the national minimum wage.

You have to make a claim to receive the pay, and you nominate a start date in that claim, which must be within 34 weeks of the birth or adoption, but not before.

The claim must be submitted within four weeks of the birth or adoption, and you need to provide proof of the birth or adoption within that claim.

How do I know who pays me my maternity leave?

The Parental Leave Pay can be paid directly to you, or through your employer.

According to Human Services, it will be your employer if all of the following apply:

  • You have worked for them for at least 1 year before the birth or adoption of your child;

  • You will stay with that employer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period

  • You are working for an Australian based employer; and

  • You expect to get paid at least 8 weeks of Parental Leave Pay.

The government will pay you if:

  • You don’t have a job;

  • Your employer doesn’t pay your Parental Leave Pay;

  • You’re self-employed; and

  • You get an income support from the government.

Parental Leave Pay from the government doesn’t change paid parental leave from an employer, which means if your employment contract has already provided for paid parental leave, you’ll get that too.

Labor calls for maternity leave for stillbirths

For parents who suffer stillbirths, the Labor Party has called for a ‘bereavement payment’.

“If your baby is born without a heartbeat, you don't get the payment," federal Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said.

“No amount of money deals with grief. But the social security system should recognise all bereavements.”

Labor senator Kristina Keneally, who suffered a stillbirth in 1999, is also pushing for the leave.

“While I can understand that people may instinctively think there’s no need for paid parental leave if a baby has died, I would invite them to consider that it is parental leave, not baby leave, and parents of stillborn babies are parents,” she said.

"The mother has given birth and must recover physically. The parents have parental responsibility, like organising autopsies, funerals and burial or cremation. They also are dealing with a singular and profound grief."

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