Guide to maternity leave in countries around the world

A guide to maternity leave around the world.

Woman holding small infant

Maternity leave is a hot topic among employees and HR professionals worldwide. Employees want to know how much time they can take off from work while they’re pregnant and after delivery, while HR professionals must be up to speed on company policies and laws to ensure compliance.

Maternity leave varies from one country to the next, so even if your company is headquartered in the United States, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can rely on the same policy company-wide. 

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Maternity leave in the United States

The United States is the only first-world country without any guaranteed paid parental leave at the national level. Only a small number of other countries—all of which are considered low or middle-income—offer no guaranteed leave.

However, the United States does have The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This provides certain employees—including those who are pregnant or caring for a newborn child—the option to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. 

The primary issue with FMLA is that it only applies to employees at certain companies, such as those with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or previous calendar year.

Note: Nine states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—and the District of Columbia currently offer paid family and medical leave. 

Which countries have the longest maternity leave?

While the United States is far behind regarding maternity leave, many other countries have taken the opposite approach. Here are the countries with the longest maternity leave:


Weeks of paid maternity leave


While the overall length of paid maternity leave is important, the critical word is “paid.” Not all of these countries provide 100 percent paid leave. Here are the maternity leave pay percentages for the countries listed above:


% maternity leave paid


Taking both lists into consideration shows that Bulgaria is the world leader in maternity leave. In addition to 58.60 weeks off, employees are also paid 90 percent of their salary. 

What countries don’t have maternity leave?

Besides the United States, only seven other countries in the world don’t guarantee any paid family leave to mothers. They include:

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Suriname
  • Micronesia
  • The Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Palau 
  • Tonga

According to an article published by ABC 10, “The United States is the only country without a paid family leave policy among nations in an organization made up of the largest economies called the OECD.” 

Maternity leave in other countries

Canada: 16 weeks at 49% pay

Germany: 14 weeks at 100% pay

India: 26 weeks at 100% pay

France: 16 weeks at 90% pay

Sweden: 12.9 weeks at 77% pay

Italy: 21.7 weeks at 80% pay

Mexico: 12 weeks at 100% pay

Norway: 13 weeks at 94% pay

Australia: 18 weeks at 42% pay


Many companies have their own maternity policies

While there’s no requirement for individual companies to implement and maintain a maternity policy in the United States, many of them do so. Offering maternity leave allows these companies to attract and retain top talent, not to mention the fact that it can do wonders for the culture of the workplace.

Here’s a list of 10 companies in the United States that are known for their generous maternity leave policies:

Amazon: 10 weeks off for both parents.

Alight Solutions: 8 weeks of paid parental leave.

eBay: Mothers get 20 weeks of paid leave and other new parents get 12 weeks.

Endgame360: 12 weeks of paid time off.

Facebook: Six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave.

Fidelity Investments: 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and 12 weeks of leave for non-birth parents.

Synchrony Financial: 12 weeks of paid time off.

Twitter: All new parents qualify for 20 weeks of paid time off.

Final thoughts

As an HR professional, keeping up with all these maternity leave laws is a giant task. This is especially true if you have team members in many parts of the world.

Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on luck to get things right. At Oyster, we have the tools you need to track and manage maternity leave across your organization.

About Oyster 

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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