Monday, March 12, 2007

the paid maternity leave controversy

Maternity leave is so vital & essential to new parents, especially to new mothers. But this varies among countries around the world. Maternity leave in the Middle East is about anywhere from 45 days or more depending on the country. I remember this being an issue with my aunts when I was growing up. They'd complain that 45 days was not enough. Course not! What's 45 days?

Bermuda offers three months maternity leave with pay across the board. I've heard of a generous few companies that offer even more trying to stay in line with their parent companies. But this is rare. Depending on the nature of the job, most companies are reluctant to offer any additional maternity leave, unpaid as it may be. This option, if it were available, is tricky
for expats because of the time limit issues with their work permits. The three month maternity leave can also come as a surprise for some Canadian & Brit expats expecting it to be on the same playing field as their home country.

For many American expats, however, paid maternity leave is a positive & significant benefit than compared to their homeland. Surprisingly, America is the only industrialized first world country that does not offer paid maternity leave to its employees. While that is standard across the board, there are some corporations that make exceptions. For the most part, employers are unwilling to compensate new mothers or fathers for this critical time off. They believe that people should be financially responsible, prepared & not depend on the government or their employers for parental leave of this sort. This coming from America! Shocking eh, especially considering so many third world African nations actually offer paid maternity leave to its new mothers.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Americans (& Bermudians too) are shocked when they find out Canada's maternity leave period is slated at a year with the option available to either parent
. That it's only compensated at 55% of regular pay doesn't seem to phase anyone a bit. Who cares they say - one year is amazing just to be able to stay at home with your baby & get paid for it even if it's only 55%. Fair enough. No complaints here.

However, if they're impressed with Canada's maternity leave plan, they'd be even more so with Sweden & Norway, who offer paid maternity leave for 18 months. Bulgaria tops the list offering its working employees TWO years paid maternity leave with the option of an additional year of unpaid leave. Now that's sweet!

links: parental leave rights


richard said...

I’ve got friends in Sweden who’ve just had a kiddy and their loving it

…..but…..careful, this article treads dangerously near a politic comment. You don’t want to get a visit from the thought police and loss your work permit.

Tryangle said...

Very thoughtful and insightful post. 3 months really doesn't sound like much time at all does it... and that's only for new mothers! Fathers are in an even greater bind.

This country could almost certainly only benefit as a whole by providing new parents with added time to spend in the early months of a child's life.