Thinking of starting a family? Have you considered how much time you’ll get off work, how much you’ll receive in benefits, and if your partner can share in that? What if you adopt? What if you are in a same sex relationship?

With so much to think about already, navigating your financial future can be tough, but it can be even worse if your country lacks in support for new families. Whether you plan to stay home or head right back to work, knowing your options is key.

The United States, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia and Lesotho are a few of the countries in the world that provide no financial support for mothers. Ouch.

So if parental leave isn’t regulated in your country, it’s important to know what your company offers. This week Etsy started to provide six months of fully paid leave for both male and female parents, and for both biological and adoptive parents. In the US this is a huge deal since the country doesn’t require employers to pay for leave.

Other countries are much more progressive. Let’s have a look at five different nations that offer some of the best parental leave plans for working parents.



Maternity and parental benefits are provided through Employment Insurance (EI) for individuals who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child, or are caring for a newborn. Same sex couples are included in the benefit. The benefit period of 35 weeks can be shared between the parents, but wages are paid at 55 per cent, to a maximum.


Known worldwide as one of the best countries for new parents, Sweden offers 480 days of parental leave, with 60 days of leave specifically for each parent. Women on average use about three-quarters of the time, with men taking the other quarter. Wages are paid at 80 per cent up to a maximum for the first 390 days, and at a flat rate thereafter. Same sex and adoptive parents are eligible.


In Croatia, working moms are entitled to maternity leave until the child reaches six months of age – a combination of compulsory and additional leave time. The additional time may be transferred to the father, which can be taken any time before the child turns eight. Unlike the other countries we have looked at so far, Croatia offers more time for twins and child number three and beyond. Depending on if the leave time is split between the parents, the time off can be extended from the standard eight months to 30 months. In addition, wages are paid at 100 per cent for working parents.


Iceland offers a little less flexibility; they dictate that each parent must take three months each, and an additional three months can be taken by either parent for a total of nine months. Wages are paid at 80 per cent
up to a maximum. However, that maximum has been lowered since this plan was set up in 2000, and now new dads are struggling to take the opportunity to stay home with their kids.


Rounding out our list is Australia. They offer a flexible plan of 18 weeks paid at $622.10 per week, and each parent can take up to 12 months of leave. In January 2013, Australia expanded their parental leave program to include a new two-week payment for working dads or partners, assuming they take this time off work.


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