The United States doesn't legally require employers to provide paid maternity leave to their workers.1 This means a woman’s paid maternity leave is either an added employer benefit or taken out of her personal or sick leave bank instead. (Through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers with 50 or more employees must provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.)
Without federal mandates for paid maternity leave, small-business owners may wonder whether they should offer this perk as part of their benefits package. But the research shows that it might be in your best interest to offer parental leave.
According to our recent employee benefits survey, 30% of women say that paid maternity leave is the most important benefit offering. (In comparison, 28% of men say their most important benefit offering is paid paternity leave.) Despite these findings, more than 80 percent of US employees do not have paid parental leave.2
So how does the US compare to the rest of the world?
Using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we ranked each country according to its full-rate equivalent pay for maternity leave (the number of weeks of paid maternity leave multiplied by the payment rate in each country).