Rivermate | Product owner - Andrew Simon

Global Work Glossary

What constitutes maternity leave?

Maternity leave encompasses the time off that a birthing parent or new mother takes from work to give birth, recover, and care for their newborn. In some instances, it also applies to adoption. While some countries use the term "parental leave," eligibility, duration, and compensation vary based on local laws and regulations.

Mandatory Maternity Leave

Maternity leave requirements are defined by local employment laws. In the UK, employers must offer 52 weeks of maternity leave to pregnant employees. In the US, under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for childbirth or family care, applicable to companies with at least 50 employees.

Eligibility for Maternity Leave

Eligibility criteria vary but often consider factors such as length of service, contributions to state funds, and employer size. Notice periods and proof of pregnancy may also be required.

Duration of Maternity Leave

The length of maternity leave varies worldwide. The ILO suggests a minimum of 14 weeks, while OECD countries average around 18 weeks. In the UK, parents are entitled to 52 weeks, with the option to split into ordinary and additional leave. Bulgaria offers one of the longest leaves globally, while the US offers none at the federal level.

Commencement of Maternity Leave

Maternity leave typically begins before childbirth. Specific start dates vary; for instance, in Austria, leave starts eight weeks before the due date.

Maternity Leave Compensation

Many countries provide paid maternity leave or benefits. The US lacks federal paid leave but offers state-level programs in some states, such as New York and California. Papua New Guinea, in contrast, offers unpaid leave only.

Maternity Leave Funding

Funding for maternity pay varies by jurisdiction. Employers, the state, or a combination may foot the bill, as seen in Nigeria, Spain, Norway, France, and the UK.

Benefits During Maternity Leave

Rights and benefits during maternity leave differ by location. In the UK, employees retain contractual benefits but not wages. Some US states mandate continued health insurance coverage during FMLA leave.

Importance of Maternity Leave

Offering maternity leave is vital for attracting and retaining talent, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promoting employee well-being. Generous leave policies demonstrate a company's commitment to supporting new parents and contribute to long-term employee satisfaction and retention.

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