Parental Leave

Evan sent me an article today on the differences between the Danish and American healthcare systems/social policies, and it made me curious about the specific lengths of parental leave in various countries. I had heard anecdotally about how very different it is in other countries, but to see the actual numbers was a total gut-punch.

According to Wikipedia (because, duh), the US is one of only four countries (the others are Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland) that guarantees exactly zero days of paid maternity leave and — of course — zero days of paid paternity leave).

I am choosing to not be depressed at this. When I went on maternity leave, I was lucky to be in a situation where I was able to cobble together 16 weeks of vacation days, sick days, state disability (note that California is one of the few US states that mandates some paid leave for new parents), and disability from my insurance company — even then, I wasn’t being fully paid, and I spent quite a bit of time during my leave on the phone with various agencies to ensure that everything went smoothly. Even more fortuitously for us, Evan was in a flexible-enough work situation that he was able to take four weeks off, followed by being on call for the rest of my THE-BABY-WON’T-STOP-CRYING-EVER emergencies. We were, and are, very very lucky indeed.

But if we ever decide to go down that path again, I can’t say I won’t be pulling up this list again, as a guide for where we should probably move to first. Maybe Denmark? Sweden? Or if we don’t want to venture too far from home, Canada offers new parents 35 weeks to split between them (in addition to 15 weeks of maternity leave), which sounds pretty good, eh? See, I’m a natural already!

(All photos of us taken during those first 16 weeks of Zoe’s life.)


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