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A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries

A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries

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APPENDIX: This report examines the parental leave policies in 21 high-income nations and identifies five "best practices" for parental leave policies. The study shows that the U.S. has the least generous leave policies of the 21 countries examined in the report. The states exhibiting the five best practices include Finland, France, Greece, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.
APPENDIX: This report examines the parental leave policies in 21 high-income nations and identifies five "best practices" for parental leave policies. The study shows that the U.S. has the least generous leave policies of the 21 countries examined in the report. The states exhibiting the five best practices include Finland, France, Greece, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

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Published by: Center for Economic and Policy Research on Sep 02, 2008
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A Detailed Look at Parental LeavePolicies in 21 OECD Countries
Rebecca Ray
September 2008
 
Center for Economic and Policy Research
 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 20009202-293-5380
www.cepr.net 
 
A Detailed Look at Parental Leave Policies in 21 OECD Countries
1
 
Contents
Introduction.............................................................................................................................2
 
Legislative Profiles..................................................................................................................3
 
European Union.....................................................................................................................3
 
 Australia................................................................................................................................3
 
 Austria...................................................................................................................................4
 
Belgium...................................................................................................................................5 
 
Canada...................................................................................................................................7 
 
Denmark................................................................................................................................9 
 
Finland.................................................................................................................................10
 
France...................................................................................................................................12 
 
Germany...............................................................................................................................13
 
Greece...................................................................................................................................15 
 
Ireland..................................................................................................................................16 
 
Italy......................................................................................................................................17 
 
 Japan....................................................................................................................................19 
 
The Netherlands...................................................................................................................20
 
 New Zealand........................................................................................................................21
 
 Norway.................................................................................................................................22 
 
Portugal................................................................................................................................25 
 
Spain....................................................................................................................................26 
 
Sweden..................................................................................................................................28 
 
Switzerland...........................................................................................................................29 
 
United Kingdom....................................................................................................................30
 
United States........................................................................................................................3
 
References..............................................................................................................................35
 
About the Author
Rebecca Ray is a research assistant at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
Acknowledgements
 Janet Gornick and John Schmitt provided many helpful comments. Nichole Szembrot and DaphneNicolitsas provided research assistance.
 
Center for Economic and Policy Research, September 2008
2
 
Introduction
 This report reviews parental leave policies in 21 high-income countries, as of July 2008. Thecountries reviewed here include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France,Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain,Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as the European Union asa whole. Each country’s profile presents the duration of leave, the level of financial support during leave (if any), the eligibility requirements for parents seeking to use leave, provisions for taking leaveon a part-time basis, and whether workers may return to their previous jobs upon their return to work.
1
  The terminology used to describe various types of leave across these countries varies widely (and isfurther complicated by the need to translate these national terms into English). This reportdescribes three types of child-based leave: maternity, paternity, and parental leave.
2
Maternity andpaternity leave refer to time reserved for one parent’s use, during pregnancy or immediately after thebirth of a child. Parental leave refers to longer periods of leave for either or both parents, to betaken after maternity and paternity leave.
3
Most countries provide all three types of leave, althoughthere are several notable exceptions. Australia and Switzerland, for example, provide only maternity leave, although Australian mothers may transfer one week of this time to fathers. The United Statesoffers one type of leave, available to both mothers and fathers, which this report identifies asparental leave.Most of the country profiles below describe national policies. However, in a few cases regionalpolicies differ significantly within a given country. For example, Canada legislates parental leave onthe provincial level; the resulting guarantees vary widely, from 52 weeks in most provinces to 70 weeks in Quebec. Regarding paid parental benefits, both Canada and Switzerland each have nationalpolicies, but the Canadian province of Quebec and the Swiss canton of Bern offer stronger socialprotection. Similarly, the United States has no national legislation for paid parental leave, but severalstates have established social insurance schemes to support new parents. In each of these cases,country profiles attempt to cover the full range of policy environments.
1
For a summary of these findings, and a comparative analysis of their generosity and gender equality, see Ray, Gornick,and Schmitt (2008).
2
Notably, this report does not include leave reserved for parents to care for sick children or attend school-relatedappointments, or for caregivers of adult family members.
3
Moss and Wall (2007) use identical definitions.

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