How Long Is the Average Maternity Leave?

It is very expedient that after childbirth, the new mum is given some time away from work in order for them to take care of herself, her baby and be mentally fit before they can resume back to work.

In some parts of the world, new mums can take several months off work after giving birth and they don’t have to worry about money because they would still be getting paid, while in some countries,

the new mum is paid the same amount as the salary they were making before or offered a certain percentage of their former salary, starting at about 30%.

During This period (Maternity leave), the mother focuses more on herself, her family, and her new baby so her brain has adjusted to the new routine and it’s quite difficult to return back to the work setting. 

I strongly believe that only strong women can just bounce out of the labor room and bounce back into working, trust me it’s indeed very stressful. For most women, if they haven’t been able to handle

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the whole drama the new baby would bring, they might just have to resign from work because at that point in their life their baby is much more important than anything so if there’s another source

of income that could help support the finance of the home, why go through the stress of having to go back to work so soon may after a few months or so.

Most women that smoothly return back to work after giving birth are women who are really passionate about their work and what they do (career women). So if you don’t really have that drive, something that challenges you to be strong, trust me the whole process will be quite challenging. 

If you’ll soon be taking time away from work to take care of a new bundle of joy, here’s all you need to know.

Average Maternity Leave in the US(Zero days)

In the US, there is no provision in federal law for a single paid day off for new mums to care for the child once the child is born.

Sounds very crazy right? but this is the truth. You might be allowed up to 12 weeks off without pay and literally not lose your job. If your company usually gives paid sick days you might be able to use those for the birth itself and a few days after, but you can’t use them just to care for your newborn. If your company has paid vacation days you might be able to use those. But many people only get 5 to 10 vacation days a year.

Many women in the US will have to work until they go into labor and are under pressure to be back at work within 6 weeks after giving birth. Some women can’t even afford that much time and will have to go back to work within days of giving birth just to secure their jobs.

Average Maternity Leave Around The world

Globally, the average paid maternity leave is about 29 weeks, and the average paid paternity leave is 16 weeks. 

Paid leave is rarely fully paid anywhere; the pay is usually a percentage of the regular salary up to a certain maximum. Around the world, paid leave is generally financed through social insurance, taxes, or contributions from employers and workers. The states with paid leave have a similar system.

Countries with the Full-Paid Maternity Leave

Few countries offer mothers their full-rate salary for the weeks that they take maternity leave. An example of these countries is Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Israel, Autria, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain.

In addition to offering 100% of the mother’s salary, the required weeks of maternity leave in these countries range from six weeks in Portugal to 30 weeks in Croatia.

Other countries require very high percentages of full salaries during maternity leave, including Norway at 94%, France at 90%, and Bulgaria at 90%.

Countries with the Longest Minimum Maternity Leaves

Some countries around the world have very long minimum periods for maternity leave.  The countries that have the longest minimum paid maternity leaves are listed as follow:

Bulgaria – 58.6 weeks

Greece – 43 weeks

United Kingdom – 39 weeks

Croatia – 30 weeks

Chile – 30 weeks

Czech Republic – 28 weeks

Ireland – 26 weeks

Hungary – 24 weeks

Italy – 21.7 weeks

Poland – 20 weeks

Luxembourg – 20 weeks

Estonia – 20 weeks

These are the minimum required weeks for maternity leave. Many countries also give options on extension on maternity leave.

In Estonia, new mothers are offered 20% of fully paid maternity leave followed by 62 weeks of the maximum paid parental leave.

In some other countries, such as Chile, mothers are required to take leave for a number of weeks before their due date.

In Chile, mothers are required to take six weeks before birth and 12 weeks after. In Austria, mothers are obligated to take leave eight weeks before birth and eight weeks after childbirth.

Advice For Smooth Transitioning Back To Work

  • Reset your expectations. When returning back to work after your maternity leave it’s wise if you think and plan how to reset yourself professionally. Think about “what makes you special or different, then think of a way to modify those attributes to suit your new life. If you were the hardest-working person in the office, then maybe you become the most efficient. If you were the best mentor or project leader, you become the best delegator.  Your goal is to reset your expectations for yourself. “If you don’t, you will find yourself trying to play a role you can no longer play.
  • Be intentional about your time with your child

As you’re getting back fully into the work, don’t forget that your new baby still needs you, your family in general. Think about how you will spend time with your kids. Will it be in the morning? In the evenings?

Mostly on weekends? Especially if you work long hours.  You need to have a working plan for when you’ll have a rewarding time with your child.

The bottom line is, don’t be physically present but emotionally absent.

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