What Parenting Leave Looks Like in These Countries

Monday, January 22, 2018
Parents with Newborn
Work Leave for Intended Parents
When a new baby arrives, all the parents want to do is spend time with their new family member. Leave from work is extremely important for both parents to provide time to care for and bond with a baby before returning to work. It is also essential for the baby's health and well-being. Early time spent with the parents is not simply to fulfill the basic needs of the child, but to nurture them and set pivotal foundations for the rest of the child's early growth and development. Truly, this is a critical time in the family's life.

Whether you're planning to be intended parents using surrogacy to build and grow your family, or if you're simply curious about how much leave time you can expect, here is information about work leave time for new parents from major countries around the world.

The United States

The laws in the USA require only 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave for newborns or adopted children. This is one of the lowest allowances for maternity leave in the industrialized world. Paid leave options are offered at the state level, but the amount of pay can vary from 30 percent to 100 percent of normal wages, and the time off work allowed can range from 2 to 12 weeks.
Newborn Baby Sleeping
Paternity leave has been mostly nonexistent nationwide, although California now offers up to 6 weeks of partially paid leave for fathers. Still, most states don't require companies to pay for paternity leave at all. At best, new fathers may elect to use their own vacation days or sick days for this time. They may also be entitled to unpaid leave.

Considering the US is a first-world country, it is surprising to many people from other countries that the United States does not offer more maternity leave. Fortunately, most middle-class citizens with higher paying careers often have access to better health care and maternity options than the lowest amount required by law. For too many people, though, finding time off to spend with a new arrival in the family is difficult at best.


The laws surrounding pregnancy and maternity leave in Mexico are rather vague. Current government rules entitle the mother to a total of 12 weeks off work for maternity leave. The law delineates 6 weeks of prenatal leave and 6 weeks of postnatal leave; however, an expectant mother can request to transfer up to 4 weeks of her prenatal leave to the postnatal period.

Paternity leave in Mexico is only about 7 days, although how often employers actually honor that and how often a father actually utilizes the leave is likely rare. Mexico's leave policies aren't what they should be, but they are on the right track.
Parents Smiling at Newborn


China is a large country with many different regions and provinces, so paternity and maternity leave can vary widely across the country. However, recent stipulations allow 98 days for maternity leave, which the mother can begin to take at 15 days prior to birth, at her discretion. That's about 14 weeks total. Paternity leave is 14 days. Women who have a baby after age 24 may be entitled to another 30 days of “late” maternity leave, bringing them closer to 18 weeks total.

The Netherlands and France

The Netherlands and France offer more generous maternity leave policies. These countries pay 100 percent of wages for 16 weeks, assuming it is your first or second child. If you qualify for social security in France, the amount of time lengthens if you are expecting a third child, twins, or triplets. France also offers paternity leave for 11 days of paid leave with a contingent option of up to 6 months additional. Benefits also apply to international surrogate parents.
Parents Cuddling with Newborn

Canada and the UK

Canada has a somewhat complicated application process, requiring employees to work 600 hours at their current job, be in an insurable position, and apply for paid leave rates that are relative to the unemployment rates in their area. This makes pay rates specific and fair. However, the EI (Employment Insurance) benefits of Canada grant at least 17 weeks of maternity and 35 weeks of parental leave. That's 52 weeks total—an entire year. This time can be shared and divided between two parents as needed.

The UK also grants a total of 52 weeks for maternity leave, which can broken down into 26 ordinary weeks, 26 additional weeks, or a specified number of shared weeks between two parents. Maternity pay can also be paid at up to 90 percent of your usual wage.

Our International Scope

CSP works with domestic US couples as much as international clients and we are happy to talk further details with you, including how parental leave relates to surrogacy programs. Most of the benefits discussed here apply to surrogate parents and adoptive parents internationally. For more information about surrogacy or to begin your surrogacy process, contact CSP today.