Career Woman

Maternity leave how long is it? Guide to the best — and worst


For career people wanting to start — or add to — a family, the pressing question could be about maternity leave how long is it? We outline the different regulations.

When it comes to offering perks to working mothers or fathers, quite a number of Nordic countries and others in Europe do better than the US. There are various policies and laws in place in countries around the world that cater for both forms of leave. However, in the US, the case is different as there is no provision in the federal act for paid parental leave.

Employers and states in the country are left to handle this aspect. Nonetheless, it is a common practice among countries to offer both paternity and maternity leave, though provisions for these may vary across borders.

Maternity leave how long is it? Guide to the best terms

Some of these countries have been selected by WeHireGlobally for having the best practices concerning parental leave — and some we have highlighted as not being so good. 

United States

In the USA, maternity leave is five and a half weeks. Further, the USA is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee mothers paid time off, and is currently one of only three countries worldwide where parental leave is not determined by law. The other two are the Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea. However, several US states and companies are trying to introduce parental leave. For example, eight states have passed their own laws that provide for paid parental leave.

United Kingdom

Women in the UK are entitled to a total of 52 weeks of parental leave. They can start this at the earliest eleven weeks before the date of birth. Only in the first two weeks after birth (for factory workers it is four weeks) does a strict ban on work apply. During the first six weeks after birth, the mother receives 90 percent of her salary from the employer. She will then receive a lump sum of 650 euros for up to 33 weeks – or still the 90 percent if this is less. Fathers are usually entitled to two weeks of paternity leave after birth.


Pregnant women in Finland are mandated to take some 30 to 50 workdays off before their anticipated date of delivery. At its commencement, maternity allowance ,which is an allotted fee for new mothers, is paid during 105 workdays. Even fathers get to spend some time with the newborn. Though the limit is capped at 54 workdays, paternity allowance for fathers/co-parents gets paid to them.

Asides this,a total number of 158 workdays can be taken as leave, either simultaneously or consecutively, by both parents. This is known as parental leave during which a certain allowance is also paid. Such payments are done by Kansaneläkelaitos, the institution which handles social insurance in Finland. 


In Denmark, pregnant women similarly take 4 weeks off prior to the due date. 14 weeks post-childbirth is also apportioned as maternity leave. For the fathers/ co-parents, their leave follows two weeks after the child’s birth or during the mother’s 14-week leave period,based on what has been agreed upon by the employer.

Parents are also entitled to 32 weeks that can be shared between them, during which they get paid a parental allowance. Employees are paid by their employers who get reimbursed by the government. 


Pregnant moms in Belgium are apportioned six weeks of leave just before they have their child. Out of these six weeks, five can be put off till after delivery. However, going on one week of delivery prior the predicted date is mandatory. After childbirth, the leave can last up to nine weeks. In summation, leave for mothers can be put at 15 weeks. This duration implies that payments of 82% of their income for the initial four weeks and 75% for the remainder are part of their entitlement.

The same applies to fathers who however, get ten days with payment for three days and 82% of the said amount for the other seven days. The latter is made by their employer who then gets reimbursed by the insurance provider who handles such payments.


Mothers and fathers in Sweden are each apportioned 240 days, bringing it to a total of 480 days. Both parents may choose to observe their days of leave simultaneously or split it. Allowance for parents is about 77% of both individuals’ income. An addition of 180 days to the parents’ leave can occur if the number of babies born exceeds one. 


In Russia, female employees’ maternity leave spans 70 days before the anticipated date. In cases of mothers with more than one baby, it is for 84 days. For mothers with one child, it ends 84 days post-childbirth. Birth complication and multiple birth cases get 86 and 110 days respectively. New dads are not privileged to go on paid leave.

Nonetheless, parental leave which is fully paid, is offered by the Russian government to a child’s parents or principal caretaker. It is capped at 40% of their wages. Unpaid leave as an option can be taken by parents for 18 months. Mothers can however take their maternity leave of 140 days with 100% payment of their salary.


In Iceland, 12 months is the duration for parental leave. Six months can be taken by each parent. One month of this period is transferable to that of either parent. Maternity leave covers a period of two weeks for new moms and even before the expected date, parents can go on one month of leave. Though leave for both parents is paid, it’s put at 80% of their pay. 


The labor law in Serbia requires that a new mom be able to go on 365 days leave. However, before she gives birth, she is expected to have taken 28-45 days off. After childbirth, three months is apportioned to her as maternity leave.

Fathers also get to go on paternity leave, especially in situations where the mother is justifiably absent or not able to exercise her right. In essence, new moms and dads are allotted equal length of days. However, while dads get paid for one week of their leave, mothers get full pay of their salary. 


New moms in Norway are mandated to take 3 weeks off work before having their baby and six weeks immediately after. Both parents are eligible for 49 weeks of leave, out of which each parent gets 15 weeks with 100% of their salary, or 59 weeks, out of which both get 19 weeks with 80% payment. With nine weeks left for maternity leave after childbirth, a new mom may take the leave or put it off till later.


For maternity leave in Hungary, it lasts 24 weeks. It must however start four weeks prior to the anticipate date. Moms are eligible for 70% of their pay. Fathers on the other hand get a paternity leave of five days, which comes paid and ought to be during two months after the baby is born.

Another option for them is unpaid leave which can last till the child is three. If more than one baby is born, the paternity leave becomes 7 days. 


A certificate is issued to a working pregnant woman in Estonia by her registered doctor. This certificate licenses her for maternity leave which covers 140 days. She gets paid 100% of her income during this period. A baby’s parents have the right to claim parental benefits from the outset of the day the certificate expires. 435 days is the slated period for both parents. New dads are paid for two weeks, which is their paternity leave. 


Parental leave in Lithuania among other Nordic countries, has quite notable policies surrounding it. New moms get paid before and post-childbirth, which are for 70 and 56 days respectively. Different cases such as multiple births or complications sees mothers getting paid for an extra 14 days.

For 30 days, fathers get paid after the child is born. This is their paternity benefit. These payments total up to 77.6% of each of their monthly earnings. In addition, the option of paid leave is open to mothers for about 24 months. 

Countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, and Luxembourg equally grant attractive perks to parents. Before migrating or taking up work options, you may want to examine these countries and their provisions for this.  

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