Maternity Leave and Benefits

You’ve been growing a baby for the last 9 months.  You’ve also been working hard at your job, knowing you’re about to get some much-needed time off.  Despite what your co-workers may think, it is definitely not for a vacation.

Around the world countries and their governments offer different lengths of leave with differing pay scales.  I sent a few shout outs to my friends and followers in the blog-o-sphere.  I was very curious to see what is offered in other locations.  

Here are a few of the ladies I’ve heard from, and how their maternity leave worked for them:

Julie from Fab Working Mom Life:

Here in the US we have the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that allows up to 12 weeks for your position to be kept while you take maternity leave. We use short-term disability to get paid for 6 weeks of the leave at 60%. The rest is unpaid. I was lucky in that my company paid me the other 40% for the first 6 weeks since I have been an employee for a long time and that was one of the benefits. The remaining 6 weeks I took were still unpaid, though.

Kid and Kin on Twitter:

I got 4 weeks off when I had my daughter. Then I became a stay at home mom. (USA)

Chandra from Italian Belly:  

Maternity leave in Italy is not too shabby. An expectant mother has five months of 80% paid maternity leave, two of which are usually taken BEFORE she gives birth, and three after she gives birth. If the gyno approves, she can stay at work longer and take off just one month before giving birth and stay at home for four months. 

After the fully-paid maternity leave is over, the mother can choose to stay on optional maternity leave for an additional six months. Should the mother decide to take the optional leave, she will be paid 30% of her regular salary. 

The optional paid leave is flexible and can be used at the mother’s discretion until her baby is six years old. 

Parental leave in Italy also takes into consideration paternity leave, single parents, adoption, low-income families and also provide bonus family payments. 

Pam from Pam’s Bake and Baby Blog:

I work in Scotland in the rail industry and got 6 months full pay followed by 3 months half pay. I then went back after 9 months but had the option to take a further 3 months unpaid if I had wanted to. Extremely good maternity!

Sarah from Digital Motherhood:

I got 9 months off – 6 weeks at 90% of my salary (everyone gets that) then 13 weeks at 75% and the rest at 50%. Could have had another 3 months unpaid leave but I couldn’t afford to do that! The only catch was that if you then left work within 18 months of going back from maternity leave you’d have to pay back the money – I’m still there 5 years later though. My company has since scrapped their enhanced maternity package and now you only get statutory maternity pay which is about £140 a week.

Raegina from Become Mum (She lives in Australia):

If you meet the minimum work requirements you are eligible for 18 weeks paid leave at minimum wage. Partner is eligible for 2 weeks paid leave at minimum wage. Work requirements are: 

  1. a) working 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of your child, and
  2. b) worked 330 hours in that 10 month period, which is just over 1 day a week, with no more than an 8 week gap between 2 consecutive working days

It is law that if you have been with an employer for 12 months then you are eligible for 12 months unpaid leave. 

With my first baby I was eligible for 12 months half pay or 6 months full pay from my workplace PLUS the 18 weeks government leave AND an additional 12 months unpaid leave.

I work for a not for profit so with this baby I am eligible for 12 months no pay PLUS 18 weeks government leave.

Me! Jessica from A Modern Mom’s Life:Maternity Leave

I live in Canada and I think we have pretty good maternity benefits.  And as I’m writing this the rules (laws?) are being discussed and potentially changed.  Babycenter.ca has a great page on how maternity leave works in Canada.

Basically you are allowed to take off a year, paid through Employment Insurance.  For me it was 55% of my income for the entire leave.  There is the opportunity to share the leave with your partner, but the first 15 weeks (at least when I had my kids) are the “maternity leave” weeks.  The rest of the available leave can be split in whatever way you’d like with your significant other.  There is also an option to take time before you have the baby and I’m not quite sure how that impacts on the time available afterwards.  I think it’s literally if you go 4 weeks before, your post baby leave is lessened by 4 weeks.

My employer did not “top up” my income, but there are definitely companies that do.  By law your workplace cannot penalize you for taking maternity or parental leave.  They have to continue to count your seniority and pay scale as if you haven’t been away for a year.  They also have to have a comparable position available for you when you return to work. 

The legislation coming up will allow a leave of 18 months but with the same total income.  If you choose to take the 18 months you get 33% of your current income.  You can still opt to take 12 months at 55% if you so choose.


I find it interesting to read about all the different styles of leave offered around the world.  Thank you to all my contributors.

I email my list when I’m looking to make these crowd sourced posts.  If you’d like to be included in a future blog post, put your name and email in the box below! 

I’m still hoping to hear from others on how maternity leave is provided for in other countries – or by other companies.  Please add your story to my post by leaving a comment!

~Jess

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10 Comments

  1. Maternity leave in the US is extremely disappointing. Not all companies qualify for short-term disability so there are mom here that get absolutely ZERO paid time off!
    I was fortunate in the company that I worked for at the time that I had my son. The company paid 1 week for each year of employment at 50% up to 4 weeks total. In addition, I was able to use all of my accumulated sick and vacation time. I was able to take 11 weeks off total and was paid at least something for 9 of them.
    Going back to work at 10 weeks postpartum was terrible. I was not in physical shape to be working, my hormones were a mess, and I hated leaving my little one. We were able to use grandmas for the first month because I was not ready to take my son to a babysitter at 10 weeks old. He needed too much attention to not have one-on-one care. I know that some women have no other choice, and I’m sure that day care is perfectly adequate, but I do not think that it is right that we are forced to make that decision so early.
    Breastfeeding for me was very very challenging, and most of that is because I was an exclusive pumper. I thought that it would better prepare me for when I went back to work and pumping was my only option. It was very very hard to breastfeed as a working mother, and I ended up quitting after my first month. (you can read about my breastfeeding struggles on my blog if interested.)

    We really need some big changes, and I’m hoping that we will move in the right direction before I am ready for baby number two.

    Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to see what mothers have other places in the world.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. I agree that the US could use better maternity leave. Is it a state law there? It’s so hard to hear about how short of leave many Americans receive. And I’m sure that makes breast-feeding so much more difficult. I also struggled with nursing, and I could never pump enough to make a bottle. It’s such a steep learning curve, becoming a new parent!
      ~Jess

  2. hi, i’am from Poland( in Europe). Types of leave for parents:

    – Maternity leave is mandatory. it takes about 6 moths with 100% salary. Or if mum decide to stay with a child 1 year then she has a 80% salary.

    – Parental leave. It can be used after maternity leave. Next 6 moths with 40% salary

    – Paternity leave. It can only be used by the baby’s dad. Dad has 2 weeks with 100% salary

    – Parental leave is free of charge. You can take it before your child turns 6 years old.
    – Free parental leave – max. 3 years – each dad has the right to go on such a vacation. At the end of care, the father must be guaranteed a return to work for the same (or similar) position as before. An application for leave must be submitted to the employer at least 21 days prior to commencement. No salary

    – Childcare leave -one parents is entitled to 2 days per calendar year for childcare. This leave can be used until the child is 14 years old. 🙂

    ( sorry for my not good english)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! It’s amazing how generous parental leave seems to be in some European countries. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. And your english is just fine! 😀
      ~Jess

  3. This is so interesting to read and makes me sad as a U.S. citizen & resident. I actually quit my job and moved from Hawaii to California to be with family when I was pregnant. I wouldn’t have been able to afford 6 weeks unpaid which means I would have had to send my 6 week old off to daycare. I just couldn’t do it.

    1. I’m glad to hear you were able to call on family when you needed to. I find it amazing that the USA does not provide for it’s citizens as well as many other countries do. Let’s hope the future will be brighter (though it may not seem it right now…)
      ~Jess

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