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Parental Leave Around the World

Parental leave practices vary around the globe based on a multitude of factors, whether statutory leave requirements or cultural norms. Uniquely, the United States is one of the few developed countries that does not provide paid parental leave. Other countries mandate certain conditions for paid leave while others call for additional periods of unpaid leave. In recent years, governments around the globe have increasingly promoted paternity leave as a way of countering the gender gap at work and home.

When expanding your team globally through an Employer of Record (EOR) arrangement, it’s important to plan and understand how statutory and accepted parental leave practices will impact your business operations. In this piece, we’ll explore parental leave requirements and customs in select key markets around the globe.

Australia

In Australia, parental leave is offered when an employee gives birth, an employee’s spouse or de facto partner gives birth or when an employee adopts a child under 16 years old. In order to qualify for parental leave for the first time with an employer, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months.

Employees in Australia are entitled up to 12 months unpaid parental leave. They also have the right to request an additional 12 months of unpaid leave. If an employee adopts a child, they are entitled to two days of unpaid pre-adoption leave. This enables them to attend any applicable interviews or examinations. Furthermore, Australia offers Dad and Partner Pay, which includes same-sex partners. Under this policy, eligible employees are entitled to two weeks of paid leave at the national minimum wage.

Employers in Australia can offer employees additional paid parental leave. Moreover, eligible employees – those who are serving as the primary caregiver of a new-born or adopted child – can also receive up to 18 weeks’ leave paid at the national minimum wage, according to the Parental Leave Pay of the Australian Government. Funded by the government, these payments do not replace unpaid parental leave.

Brazil

In Brazil, all female employees are eligible to receive maternity benefits. The maternity benefit is subsidized by the INSS, the agency that handles social security in Brazil. The employee can receive this benefit for a period of 120 days, being commenced up to 28 days before the due birth date. For paternity leave, male employees are entitled to five days of paid paternity leave. Employers should note that they are responsible to pay this benefit upfront; they can then later deduct the relevant amount from the social security contributions owed to the INSS. Employees who adopt a child are also entitled to the same 120 days for female employees and five days for male employees.

Under certain circumstances, maternity leave benefits in Brazil may be extended to 180 days and paternity leave to benefits up to 20 days. In order to qualify for an extension, certain requirements established by the government program must be met.

Canada

In Canada, parental leave entitlements vary across provinces. In general, pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave (which includes pregnancy leave) for a period of up to 17, 18 or 19 months depending on the province. This leave is unpaid but must be allowed by the employer. In the province of Quebec, birth fathers are also eligible to take an unpaid paternity leave period of up to five weeks.

Furthermore, in most jurisdictions of Canada, new parents (as well as parents that adopt) have the right when a child is born or comes into their care for the first time to take unpaid parental leave for a period lasting between 59 and 63 weeks, depending on the jurisdiction. Parental leave does not necessarily have to commence immediately following the birth of the child or when the adoptive child first comes into the care of the parents. Instead, timeframes and rules for this leave period vary across provinces. In most cases, birth mothers who have taken pregnancy leave must commence parental leave immediately after the end of the pregnancy leave.

Employers in Canada cannot in anyway penalize an employee for taking or planning to take parental leave. Generally, full employee benefits must be maintained, and, in almost all cases, an employee will have the right to return to their job following the leave with their seniority and length of service maintained.

Employers in Canada should also be mindful that additional benefits are often customary. Because the government’s Employment Insurance benefits often only cover a fraction of the employee’s regular income, many employers will have a scheme to offer a “top up” of benefits for a further portion of the regular income.

Japan

In Japan, female employees may take a maternity leave period of six weeks before expected due date. In the case of two or more expected children, they may take the maternity leave period within fourteen weeks. After birth, the employee cannot return to work before eight weeks have passed since childbirth date. However, once six weeks has passed since the date of childbirth, the employee can submit a request to work. The employer can then allow her to perform duties that are approved by a doctor.

Employers in Japan are not required to pay an employee during maternity leave. If no wages are paid, the employee is paid two-thirds of her base wage from her health insurance plan. Japan’s Act on Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment Employers prohibits employers from discriminating against a female employee because of maternity leave. Therefore, employees can resume the same job on the same working conditions after the maternity leave period ends. Notably, there’s presently no statutory requirement for paternity leave in Japan.

India

Female employees in India are entitled to take between 12 and 26 weeks of maternity leave, commencing as early as eight weeks prior to expected delivery date. Remaining time can be availed to the employee post-childbirth. For women who are expecting after already having two children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks (e.g., six weeks prior to expected delivery and then six weeks post expected date of delivery).

Maternity leave is awarded with full pay to employees who have completed at least 80 days in a company in the 12 months prior to her expected date of delivery. This benefit is awarded at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of a worker’s actual absence from work. Apart from 12 weeks of salary, a female worker is entitled to a medical bonus of 3,500 Indian rupees if health benefits are not provided by the employer.

India’s Maternity Benefit Act also provides for adoption leave of 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child under the age of three months. A commissioning mother is also entitled to a 12-week leave from the date the child is handed over to her. As per the legislation, the commissioning mother is defined as a “biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman.” The woman who gives birth to the child is called the host or surrogate mother).

While paternity leave is authorized for government employees in India, there is no law that instructs employers in the private sector to make it obligatory. Hence, the extent of paternity leave benefits is left up to individual companies to determine.

As per the Maternity Benefit Act, employers are required to inform a woman worker of her rights under the Act at the time of her appointment. The information must be provided to the employee in writing and in email.

Italy

When it comes to childbirth, female employees in Italy must not work for two months before and three months after. If a medical certificate is produced, this compulsory five-month period of maternity leave can instead be shifted to be used in full after childbirth. Furthermore, a female employee in Italy can request to go on maternity leave early in certain circumstances. For instance, this applies if her duties involve lifting or moving heavy objects. In this case, a medical certificate is required along with an authorization from the Employment Office. However, the employer’s consent is not needed. During the entire pregnancy, and for a period after childbirth, the employee must not be allocated tasks that may endanger her health.

During maternity leave, employees receive an allowance from Italy’s National Social Security Body, which equates to 80% of their salary. In the case of voluntary or therapeutic termination of pregnancy after 180 days from the beginning of the pregnancy, or in case of the death of the child at birth, female employees can return to work at any time with at least ten days’ notice to the employer. This return is subject to specific medical approval.

After the maternity leave period ends, employees are entitled to return to the same job in which they were employed before taking the leave. Except in certain circumstances, employers may not dismiss female employees during pregnancy or until the child is one year old. Additionally, the resignations and mutual termination agreements entered into with mothers during their pregnancy or with parents of children under the age of three must always be validated and confirmed by such mothers or fathers through a special procedure. Failure to validate and confirm renders the termination agreement ineffective.

Italy also mandates paternity leave in some cases. If the mother does not take maternity leave – due to death, illness or the father having exclusive custody – the father is entitled to the entire or residual period of maternity leave. This right does not apply in any other circumstances. Employees on paternity leave are entitled to the same wage allowance structure, have the same rights to return to their job after paternity leave and have the same protections against dismissal as employees on maternity leave. Additionally, since the beginning of 2020, fathers in Italy must take ten days of paid paternity leave within five months of the child being born and can take a further day, within the same timeframe, in place of the mother’s leave.

During the first 12 years of a child’s life, parents in Italy are entitled to take a leave of absence. This optional parental leave can be taken by the mother and by the father for a maximum period of six months, or by one parent only for a maximum period of 10 months. During the first eight years of a child’s life, the parents are entitled to be absent from work when their child is ill.

Employees in Italy who have adopted children are entitled to take a three-month period of maternity or paternity leave during the first three months that the child is brought into the family. These parents are entitled to the same financial benefits as parents of natural children. They can also take parental leave during the first three years that the child is brought into the family, according to the same periods and with the same financial benefits as parents of natural children.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, pregnant employees and new mothers are entitled to take a maternity leave period of up to 52 weeks. The employee’s usual terms and conditions of employment will continue throughout the period of maternity leave however salary is replaced by statutory maternity pay. This payment amounts to 90% of basic salary for the first six weeks of leave and £151.20 per week (or 90% of average weekly earnings, if less) for a further 33 weeks. Many employers additionally offer company maternity pay, which is an enhanced rate of pay during some or all of the maternity leave period.

In general, a woman in the United Kingdom returning to work from maternity leave generally has the right to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence. This right is subject to the duration of her maternity leave.

Paternity leave is available to employees in the United Kingdom with 26 weeks of continuous service. Eligible fathers are entitled to take a period of leave of one or two weeks, which is payable at the rate of £151.20 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings, if less. Like with maternity leave, many employers pay elect to paternity pay at an enhanced rate.

The United Kingdom also offers shared parental leave, which is flexible system of parental leave that allows mothers to end their maternity leave and/or pay early. The balance of the maternity leave and pay period is available for either parent to take as shared parental leave. The remaining leave must be taken in the first twelve months of a child’s life but does not have to be taken as a single continuous period. Furthermore, both parents can be on leave at the same time if they wish.

For adoption, up to 52 weeks of parental leave is available to one member of the adopting couple. Such adoption leave pay is paid at the same rates as statutory maternity pay. Additionally, adoptive parents can opt into the shared parental leave system if the parent taking adoption leave elects to end their period of leave early.

Parental leave and EOR: GoGlobal can help

One of the numerous benefits of engaging an EOR arrangement when hiring abroad is that a top tier international professional employer organization (PEO) – like GoGlobal – knows the statutory requirements and customs when it comes to parental leave in the worker’s home country. By being fully compliant, organizations with this kind of EOR arrangement in place can avoid costly legal troubles. Likewise, GoGlobal can help clients design a parental leave structure that is competitive and attractive in the job marketplace at hand.

As an EOR service provider, GoGlobal can help your company hire, onboard, pay and manage employees in key markets abroad. By combining our global view and local expertise, we ensure your company is complying with local parental leave laws and expectations. This way, you can focus on core business activities and seamlessly grow your team around the globe.

About GoGlobal

GoGlobal is the world’s fastest growing, privately owned Global Employer of Record (EOR) service provider, with a globally distributed and remote workforce. GoGlobal’s technology-enabled EOR solution allows businesses of all sizes and geographies to hire staff globally without the need to set up a local entity, opening new doors to rapid expansion and growth. GoGlobal clients can hire top talent anywhere in the world – quickly, cost effectively and compliantly.

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