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Parental leave policies in the US have long been criticized, especially when compared to policies in other countries. In the US, new mothers and fathers can take 12 weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In most states (with the exception of California, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island) this leave is unpaid.

In order for this unpaid leave to be mandated by law, an expectant mother or father has to have worked at a company with more than 50 employees, have been with the company for at least one year, and have worked 1250 hours over the past year. Though 12 unpaid weeks are mandated by law if people meet the above requirements, individual companies may grant more (sometimes paid) time. 

In comparison, most leave policies around the world offer fully paid or partially paid time off. This pay is financed in a variety of ways including by individual employers and by the government. In addition to maternity leave and paternity leave, many countries allow for parental leave. This is extra leave that parents can take after the birth of a child while still maintaining job security.

To compare how much time off new parents get, we researched parental leave policies in 39 different countries. In some countries like France and Turkey, leave is adjusted for single or multiple pregnancies. In these cases we documented time off for single pregnancies, as this is most common. Unsurprisingly, every country had mandated maternity leave.

Maternity-Leave

However, not every country had mandated paternity leave, and in some countries leave was as little as one or two days. Some fathers are lucky because they can use parental leave on top of their paternity leave — fathers in Italy, for example, have this benefit. In other countries, like Argentina, paternity leave is the only time off granted.

Paternity-Leave

Additional parental leave allows for parents to spend time with their child while he or she is still young without being scared of losing their jobs. Parental leave can be shared between parents or granted to each parent depending on the country. In Turkey and Egypt, additional parental leave is only granted to mothers, while in progressive countries like Sweden fathers are mandated to take 90 days of the leave.

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