You can count the number of nations lacking a definitive law providing paid maternity leave on one hand—and still have two fingers left over. Guess what. One is the United States. That’s what Human Rights Watch found when it studied practices worldwide.
Adding it all up, here’s what the nonprofit social welfare advocacy group found:
- 178: countries that guarantee some paid under national law
- 101: countries that require 14 weeks or more of paid leave for new mothers
- 31: countries that require 14 weeks or more of paid leave for new fathers
- 19: countries that guarantee new mothers a year off with pay following childbirth
- 18: the average number of weeks new mothers worldwide can take off with pay after giving birth
- 3: countries without a nationwide law guaranteeing new mothers any paid time off following the birth of a child—Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the United States
Source: Failing Its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Supports in the US, Human Rights Watch, 2011.