An article today detailing maternity, paternity and adoption rights in the UK started me wondering how similar or different the situation is in various parts of the world for new parents.
Thinking about both adoptive parents and those in other countries who may be considering relinquishment, it’s interesting to see what sort of laws cover parental rights around the world.
With the Federal Family Leave Insurance Act still being chewed on in the US Senate … Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced the bill to provide paid family leave for birth or adoption of a newborn, care of an elderly parent, or serious illness of the employee … many are being made aware of just how far the US lags behind the world’s other industrialized countries in parental benefits.
Arguing that taxes in many of these countries are much higher, but factoring costs of child care … or the results of poor or non-existent child care … it could be said that Americans are ending up paying a heck of a lot more for a great deal less.
A BBC report on European efforts to make working and parenting easier a country-by-country look around does suggest that wealth and taxes do make it easier on moms and dads.
In Sweden, for example, each parent is entitled to 18 months paid leave and women with pre-school aged kids can reduce their working hours.
In Norway, mothers get either 10 months at full pay or 12 months at 80%, with fathers allowed to take almost all of that instead of the mother. Fathers must take at least four weeks or lose all benefits.
Germany, a country with very high taxes, has apparently ignored the needs of parents to the point that more than 30% of German women have not had children. The government offers 14 weeks of maternity leave and up to 36 months of parental leave at varying rates of pay, there are few options for child care.
According to government figures, only one in five children under three get a place in day care. Not only do they close at lunch time, but the fees are incredibly high. Another problem for working parents is that traditionally, the school day ends at 1pm.
The UK offers, in addition to paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, an option during adoption leave called “Keeping in Touch” days, allowing, flexible working hours, and can recover either 92% or 104.5% of Paternity Pay.
Continued in the next post.