US ranks last in the world for paid time off for new moms

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A mother holds her child. (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)

HOUSTON (KIAH) — With Mother’s Day approaching, Business.org took a look into how paid maternity leave in the U.S. compares to other countries around the world.

According to Business.org’s recent employee benefits survey, 30% of women say that paid maternity leave is the most important benefit offering.

The minimum time for paid maternity leave for most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 12 weeks, and the average time off across countries is roughly 20 weeks. In the United States, it’s zero.

  • Bulgaria stands out by far as the best place for maternity leave, stretching to 58.6 weeks.
  • Greece’s maternity leave is the next closest at 21.7 weeks of full-pay equivalent, with 43 weeks at a 49.5% pay rate.
  • Poland comes in third with 20 weeks of paid maternity leave at a 100% pay rate.

Business.org reports that the United States doesn’t legally require employers to provide paid maternity leave to their workers. However, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does require employers with 50 or more employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.

Considering that 41% of American families rely on two incomes, families who are welcoming a new addition to their family need to have paid maternity leave to make ends meet.

President Joe Biden is proposing to expand paid leave benefits to allow parents up to 10 weeks of paid time to bond with their new child. The first coronavirus relief package, which was implemented last spring, included paid leave, but it expired in December.

Check out how paid maternity leave compares across the world.

The Survey Methodology: Using (OECD) data, each country was ranked according to its full-rate equivalent pay for maternity leave (the number of weeks of paid maternity leave multiplied by the repayment rate in each country).

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