10 countries with the best parental leave policies. Are you reading this, Maneka Gandhi?

paternity leave, New parents

Parental leave has been high on the list of conversation topics ever since women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi pushed through the idea of longer maternity leave in a bill in Parliament this August, but scorned the idea of paternal leave in a country that has strong anecdotal evidence that only a few men participate in childcare.

That said, India’s parental leave policies are very forward-looking, especially compared to those of the US where there is no national law for parental leave, and new parents must hope for help from state and company policies. Still, compared with other nations, it’s clear that India, which places such cultural emphasis on family values, could do more to improve the quality of life for new parents. Here’s a look at 10 nations that have amazing laws for parental leave and childcare.


Finland allows its pregnant women seven months of paid leave before their estimated due date. Apart from this, a maternity grant allows women 16 weeks of additional paid leave irrespective of whether the women are employed, unemployed or students. It also gives expecting fathers eight weeks of paid leave. Then, when a child turns three, parents can take partial leave to juggle time between work and home until the child reaches second grade.

Also Read: A Father On Why Paternity Leave Is A Gender Equaliser


Expecting mothers get a total of 18 weeks of paid maternity leave which comprises four weeks before giving birth and 14 weeks after. Two weeks of paternity leave is also allowed. There is also an addition of 32 weeks of paid leave for both parents to take as they please. In the case of illness, whether it affects a child or parent, leave can be increased by 14 weeks. In total, the government covers 52 weeks of parental leave, but not always at full pay.


Sweden is very generous in its parental policy. Parents get 480 days of leave at 80 per cent of their pay. This is apart from the 18 weeks of maternity leave before delivering a child. The 480 days of leave can be divided by the parents to use at any time. Fathers also get about 90 days of paid paternity leave, as Sweden aims to promote bonding between father and child.


The country allows its women up to 15 weeks of paid leave. In their babies’ first month, they get 80 per cent of their pay. After that, for the rest of the leave, they are paid  75 per cent of their salaries. Fathers are allowed 10 days of leave with full pay for the first three days and 82 per cent of their pay for the other seven days, provided they take this leave in the first four months of the baby’s life. Mothers also have the option of eight months of part-time leave instead of 15 weeks of full time leave.


Parents together get about nine months of leave, which is divided between them as three months for the new mother, three months for the new father and then three months for both to decide how they want to use the leave. While on leave, they get 80 per cent of their salaries. This is to ensure that the child spends time with both parents, even while the parents work. However, the assigned leaves are not transferable.


Serbia provides its mothers about 20 weeks of paid leave after giving birth and its fathers a week long paid leave. The mothers can take an additional year-long leave, getting full pay for the first 26 weeks, then 60 per cent pay for weeks 27 to 39, and finally 30 per cent pay for weeks 39-52.


Mothers of Norway get 35 weeks fully paid maternity leave, or 45 weeks of paid maternity leave at 80 per cent of their salaries. Fathers get up to 10 weeks of paternity leave, based on a computation of the incomes of their wives.


New moms get 24 weeks of 70 per cent paid maternity leave that can begin from four months before the date of delivery. Fathers get a paid week off during their wives’ pregnancy. Then the couple can take 156 weeks of leave together at 70 per cent of pay for the first 104 weeks.


Pregnant women get 140 days of fully paid maternity leave which can begin about 30-70 days before delivery. Fathers get two weeks off to spend time with their babies and they can even get time off before the delivery of the child at full pay. After the baby is born and the leaves end, the parents together get 435 days off. Their compensation is calculated at the average of their two salaries.


Expecting mothers are entitled to 18 weeks off with full pay, fathers get four weeks off with full pay. After these leaves end, they get 156 weeks off together, choosing either to have the first 52 weeks at full pay, or the first 104 weeks at 70 per cent of their salaries. However, the remaining weeks are unpaid.

Feature image credit: Daily Mail