Maternity leave: Trends And Practices You Need To Know

Richard Mapfuise / Posted On: 30 June 2022 / Updated On: 29 November 2022 / Compensation and Benefits / 258

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Maternity leave: Trends And Practices You Need To Know



Employers and employees alike are becoming more interested in maternity leave. Not just expectant mothers are engaged. A company's maternity leave policy or perks are frequently cited by new workers trying to make family plans as a justification for joining. Even those who do not foresee the necessity of maternity leave have a more favourable opinion of businesses that value their workers' families.

 

Whether paid or unpaid, maternity leave may appear to be an expenditure for corporations. However, in terms of attracting personnel, maternity leave policies can offer significant advantages for businesses. As savvy business owners are aware, there may be a huge benefit for the organization. Performance, employee retention, and even corporate patriotism may all benefit.

 

What is maternity leave?

A mother's time off from work after having a child is referred to as maternity leave. The company should anticipate requests for time off when a staff member is pregnant. If the woman desires it or experiences issues during pregnancy, maternity leave may begin before the baby's birth; otherwise, it may commence after the baby is delivered.

For small- to medium-sized businesses, maternity leave can also cause complications for the company. Covering workload and shifts may be challenging, but more and more firms understand the value of giving as generous maternity leave benefits as they can afford.

 

Is maternity leave required by law?

Maternity leave is not mandated by law for most working women. For instance, In the USA, even though the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees job protection for employees who give birth or place a child in foster homes, 40% of women do not meet the legal requirements for maternity leave. This can be because of the company size (organizations with less than 50 workers are not eligible) or because of how long they have been employed.


International Labour Office (ILO)

In 1919, the ILO established the Maternity Protection Convention, the first international regulation to safeguard working women before and after childbirth. The need for a minimum 12-week leave was changed in 1952. However, a 14-week absence is advised. According to the ILO guideline, women should get full health benefits along with payments that are at least equal to two-thirds of their previous covered wages in nations that offer monetary compensation through social security.

The ILO criterion of 12 weeks is currently met by 119 nations, 62 of which provide 14 weeks or more. Only 31 countries mandate maternity leaves that are shorter than 12 weeks long.

 

According to a survey, many countries have different notice policies for taking maternity leave. Federal law in Australia mandates that a woman should notify their employer at least ten weeks in advance of their intended leave of absence that they are pregnant. In Austria, an employee is obligated to notify their company of her pregnancy and the expected delivery date as soon as they know. Employees should also have to inform the employer four weeks before their prenatal leave start date.

 

To maintain the woman's constitutional immunity in any conflict, notice in Ireland and the United Kingdom must adhere to a rigid protocol. Pregnant women have more rights in other nations. In Denmark, Italy, Greece, and France, a woman immediately qualifies for maternity leave coverage the moment they find out they are expecting, regardless of how or when the firm discovers it. In Finland, women only have to notify their workplace if they plan to take maternity absence more than 30 days before the due date.

 

The number of children already in the household, the regularity of births, the duration of employment, or the total hours worked may affect the amount of leaving an employee is entitled to. Women are only permitted to take maternity leave once every 3 years in Tanzania and the Bahamas. In Nepal, a woman is only permitted to take two maternity breaks during her career; the same is true for Barbados, Egypt, Grenada, and Jamaica.

 

The most typical prerequisite for maternity leave is having a certain amount of time working for the same employer. Examples include working for a minimum of three months in Switzerland, six months in Libya, Somalia, and Syria (in agriculture), six months in the Philippines, one year in Australia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Mauritius, Namibia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as two years in the Gambia and Zambia.

 

The analysis reveals that dialogue agreements between unions and companies frequently raise the leave entitlement. For instance, in Spain, 18,000 public school employees in the Basque region receive 18 weeks of maternity leave, which is two weeks longer than what is required by law, but 12,000 employees at private schools in the same area receive 17 weeks. The 12 weeks required by law in Mexico are supplemented by one to four weeks of leave from two financial firms and an energy company. In the UK, 85% of the 240 employers polled in 1995 provided maternity breaks that were longer than required by law.

 

How long is maternity leave?

Businesses covered by federal or state family leave laws must adhere to existing leave policies. State regulations vary among different nations. There is a 12-week limit for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the USA. 

 

In California, eligible women are entitled to up to 52 weeks of paid leave for childbirth. Mothers may get up to 26 weeks of partially paid leave under New York's short-term disability insurance. There are similar initiatives in other states.

 

The amount of leave that the remaining women in the US are entitled to after giving birth depends on their employer's leave policy. A maternity leave policy specifies leave time allowances, whether the individual will be compensated, and if a maternity leave letter is necessary.

 

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in 2017, 60% of companies provided 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, while 33% offered extended durations. These may consist of paid and unpaid vacation days. According to the research, 81 percent of employers permitted mothers to return to work gradually after the birth of their child. This might involve part-time shifts or scheduling changes shortly.

 

Related Article: Leave and holidays

 

When does maternity leave start?

When a woman starts pregnancy, complications may determine her leave. If a woman wishes to prepare for the delivery of the child, leave might begin before the delivery. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act provides job security for women who work for companies with 15 or more workers in the case of complications. These workers should be handled similarly to any other employee with a temporary impairment.

 

The economics of maternity leave

The USA is the only developed country that does not require paid maternity leave. Some nations, such as Finland, pay new mothers for up to three years following the birth of their baby. In the United Kingdom, they are entitled to up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave. It is estimated that just 16% of private-industry workers in the United States have access to paid maternity leave.

 

The expense of taking time off work for a child's birth can significantly influence the quantity of leave time sought and utilized. More than two-thirds of all mothers and 40% of families with children under the age of 18 are headed by women who work full-time. According to some studies, 25% of moms return to work within two weeks of the birth of their child, usually for financial reasons.

 

While 70% of women report having some time off after giving birth, 16% report spending only 1 to 4 weeks, 50% take at least 5 weeks, and 25% take nine weeks or longer. The remaining one-third of moms do not take any time off and resume work practically instantly after their baby is born.

 

Is maternity leave paid or unpaid?

Maternity leave is unpaid for the vast majority of women in the USA. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, over 35% of private employers provided some paid maternity leave in 2018. Maternity leave compensation is only required in a small number of states.

 

Paid maternity leave is a perk that many businesses should pursue. Turnover costs money in a competitive job market; some projections show it at one-fifth of an employee's yearly wage. In contrast, a few weeks' or months' worth of paid leave may be inexpensive. According to one research, compared to their non-paid peers, new mothers who had paid leave were more likely to return and continue working after the maternity leave ended. If their leave was compensated, first-time mothers were more willing to return to work.

 

What is a maternity leave letter, and why is it necessary?

Although it is not required by law, many businesses use maternity leave letters to record staff leave applications to figure out how to divide work while the mother is away and when they intend to return. Employees may willingly agree to record the request for them. In general, the letter states how much time the new mother foresees needing and when the employer should anticipate their return to work. Some new mothers advice on how to divide their responsibilities while away.

 

It is good practice to record what has been asked, regardless of whether you receive a formal maternity leave letter or a verbal announcement. If the letter is received, acknowledge it in writing and send it on, or assist the employee in drafting a leave request letter outlining their anticipated start and finish dates. The firm can reassign work and disburse any compensation by using the schedule specified by the leave request.

 

Why maternity leave is so important

The need for enlarged labor pools is ever-growing, and businesses will stall without new hires to fill open positions in the future. Children accomplish this goal. Employees may confidently establish families when they have the necessary employment protection and some remuneration.

 

Maternity leave, both paid and unpaid, benefits companies in addition to employees. Along with increasing productivity and labour force attachment, it can also raise morale. Maternity leave recipients are more likely to return to and stay with their first workplace.

 

Another advantage of a maternity leave policy is that it lowers the high cost of turnover and the accompanying training expenditures for new workers. A company's maternity leave policy may be a potent recruiter. Every perk that a business offers increases its likelihood of selecting the highest caliber applicants since expertise is in high demand.

 

The definitive verdict? Both employees and businesses benefit from maternity leave. A maternity leave policy assists women in taking the time required so they may return to the workplace prepared to work while also attracting and keeping workers.

 

Maternity Leave Around the World: What Global HR Teams Should Know

Employers can provide better terms if they so want, however, baseline maternity leave regulations are frequently governed by legislation and often financed by the government. This means that from one nation, state (if applicable), and business to the next, the number of weeks permitted for maternity leave and the proportion of salary earned throughout that period varies.

 

Countries that provide paid Maternity Leave by Country 2022

(Selected countries from around the world).

Maternity leave in Europe

Both parents are eligible for childbirth benefits in Europe. They are given parental leave in addition to maternity and paternity leaves, which can be split between parents. The duration of maternity leave varies by nation. Parents who take time off to care for their children are protected at work and get economic support thanks to parental leave.

 

Here is a comparison of the top 5 maternity leaves by country in Europe (by the length of maternity leave):

Country

Maternity

Maternity Pay

Serbia

1 year

First 26 weeks at 100% of their salary; week 27-39 at 60% of their salary; week 40-52 at 30% of their salary

Iceland

12 months

60% of their salary

Germany

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Netherlands

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Switzerland

14 weeks

80% of their salary

Source: Globalization Partners

 

Maternity leave in the Americas

Compared to Europe, the Americas provide less favorable maternity and paternity leave policies. Paternity leave is not yet widely available in many nations, and in those that do, it often lasts only a few days.

 

Here is a comparison of the top 5 maternity leaves by country in the Americas (by the length of maternity leave):

Country

Maternity

Maternity Pay

Venezuela

26 weeks

100% of their salary

Chile

18 weeks

100% of their salary

Colombia

18 weeks

100% of their salary

Cuba

18 weeks

100% of their salary

Paraguay

18 weeks

100% of their salary

Source: Globalization Partners

 

Maternity and paternity leave are not protected by federal law in the United States, where parental leave is not required. Though many states have their own rules and programs, not all employees are eligible to take advantage of them.

 

Maternity leave in Asia-Pacific countries

The average number of paid maternity leave days for mothers in East Asia and the Pacific is 91 days. In contrast, paid paternity leave often lasts only five days.

 

Here is a comparison of the top 5 maternity leaves in the Asia-Pacific region (by the length of maternity leave):

Country

Maternity

Maternity Pay

India

26 weeks

Based on their average daily wage

Australia

18 weeks

Based on the weekly rate of the national minimum wage

Singapore

16 weeks

100% of their salary

Japan

14 weeks

66% of their salary

New Zealand

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Source: Globalization Partners

 

Maternity leave in the Middle East

In the Middle East, maternity leave is becoming more significant. Governments have come a long way in regulating maternity and paternity leaves throughout the years.

 

Here is a comparison of the top 5 maternity leaves in the Middle East (by the length of maternity leave):

Country

Maternity

Maternity Pay

Saudi Arabia

10 weeks

50% of their salary

United Arab Emirates

90 days

100% of their salary

Lebanon

10 weeks

100% of their salary

Jordan

10 weeks

100% of their salary

Kuwait

70 days

100% of their salary

Qatar

50 days

100% of their salary

Source: Globalization Partners

 

Maternity leave in Africa

The majority of African nations provide paid maternity and paternity breaks for both parents, albeit paternity periods are often shorter than maternity leaves. Only in South Africa are paid vacation days not required.

 

Here is a comparison of the top 5 maternity leaves in Africa (by length of maternity leave):

Country

Maternity

Maternity Pay

Kenya

3 months

100% of their salary

Cameroon

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Zambia

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Senegal

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Burkina Faso

14 weeks

100% of their salary

Source: Globalization Partners

 

How maternity leave around the world has changed over time

Unfortunately, maternity leave is shrinking or altering in many countries around the globe, for instance:

  • In 1997, Austria began reducing the overall amount of paid leave.
  • Estonia had 166 weeks of vacation time in 2012; that number has dropped to 82 weeks.
  • The amount of leave offered in the Netherlands was reduced from 42 weeks in 2014 to 16 weeks in 2015.
  • The overall length of leave in Norway varies between 80 and 90 weeks.
  • From 60 weeks in 2015 to 55.7 weeks in 2016, Sweden's leave period was reduced.

 

Maternity Leave in Zimbabwe

Women who work in the public and private sectors and the government are all covered under the Labour Relations Act's maternity protection provisions.

 

To be eligible for paid maternity leave, an employee must have at least one year of employment. Only with the presentation of a medical certificate is such leave permitted. Maternity leave can only be awarded once per 24 months, measured from the day prior the to leave was granted, and three times for the same company. The start of mandatory leave should be at least 21 days before delivery. The entire length is typically 98 days of paid maternity leave at the rate of 100 percent of regular salary, completely paid for by the company.

If the need should arise, an extension of the unpaid maternity leave beyond the typical period of paid leave may be granted upon request.

 

A woman's regular benefits and entitlements, such as their seniority or advancement rights and the accrual of pension rights, shall continue uninterruptedly during their maternity leave in the same way that they would have continued had they not taken the leave. The employee's right to take maternity leave cannot be viewed as having been used to shorten, end, or otherwise affect their time on the job.

 

Preparing for maternity leave

Make a few final preparations once you've established a maternity leave game plan and addressed your pregnancy with your supervisor. The message you want to portray to your employer and coworkers is that you are dedicated to both your family and your job. Keep the following suggestions in mind:

  1. Be ready for the unexpected. Even if you meticulously prepare every step of the way -- the child nonetheless decides to arrive six days ahead of time. Therefore, make an effort to be adaptable, and if at all possible, leave your maternity leave start date open in case your kid is born early or late.
  2. Take the lead. If you want to assist, guarantee a seamless transition while you're gone, prepare a step-by-step sequence of guidelines, a list of useful recommendations, contact information, and anything else that may be useful. Train your interim substitute well before your intended departure if they will cover for you.
  3. Maintain contact. Do you prefer to leave all work-related items at the workplace or do you prefer to get daily emails or calls from your coworkers? Whichever you select, let your supervisor and coworkers know. But bare in mind that you may alter your mind if you discover that becoming a mother leaves you with no opportunity for email.

 

Related Article: Paternity pay and leave

Related Article: 21 Paternity leave practices never to ignore

 

 

Richard Mapfuise is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/Richard-m-299612129

Phone: +263 242 481946-9/481950

Mobile: +263 779 683 299 

Email: [email protected]

Main Website: www.ipcconsultants.com


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