Parental Leave Compliance: Protecting People and Profits

a parent's hands protecting a child's hands

Global expansion can be an exciting opportunity for companies to increase their customer base, grow their business and achieve new profits. However, as companies expand into new countries, they must be aware of the various legal requirements and obligations that come with managing a global workforce. One critical area is parental leave, which includes maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

Each country maintains its own statutory requirements for parental leave, so the leave periods for a cross-border workforce can differ significantly. In this blog post – the first in a series of two blog posts – we’ll explore why companies must be mindful of statutory parental leave and also compare maternity, paternity and adoption leave requirements in select markets around the world. 

Legal obligations, a moral imperative – and good for business

Observing maternity, paternity and adoption leave laws is not only a legal requirement but also a moral and ethical responsibility. Every employee, regardless of gender or family status, deserves the option to take time off to care for a newborn or adopted child without fear of losing their job or facing discrimination. 

Offering parental leave benefits can also improve employee loyalty, engagement and overall well-being – which ultimately benefits the company as a whole.

It is crucial for companies to familiarize themselves with local parental leave laws in any market they are hiring workers. Companies that do not comply face the risk of legal action, negative media attention and damage to their reputation – which can all make a successful global expansion nearly impossible. 

Comparing parental leave around the world

To help put parental leave in the spotlight, we have looked into the regulations across a range of markets in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, as well as North Africa and the Middle East. 

It is important to note that there may be nuances within a jurisdiction’s regulatory framework for parental leave. Many countries also maintain additional leave allowances beyond the standard maternity, paternity and adoption leave requirements.

By taking the time to understand and respect these laws, companies can ensure success both legally and ethically – while also benefiting their business through improved employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

Africa

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
Kenya 3 months 14 days 1 month (pre-adoption)
Mauritius 14 weeks 5 days 14 weeks (mother)
South Africa 4-6 months 10 days 10 weeks

 

Asia

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
China 158 days (varies by province) 15 days (varies by province) Not specified
Indonesia 3 months 2 days Not specified
India 26 weeks Not specified 12 weeks (mother)
Japan 14 weeks 4 weeks Considered part of extended parental leave (up to 1 year)
South Korea 90 days 10 days Considered part of extended parental leave (up to 1 year)
Taiwan 8-12 weeks 7 days Not specified
Thailand 98 days Not specified Not specified
Vietnam 6 months 5-14 days Not specified

 

Europe

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
Belgium 15-17 weeks 20 days 6 weeks (both parents)
Denmark Up to 18 weeks (four weeks pre-birth and 14 weeks following birth; can be shared with a partner) Up to 2 weeks (can also share some maternity leave time with a partner) Same rights as biological parents
Italy 22 weeks 10 days 3 months
Germany 14 weeks Not specified (10 days to go into effect in 2024) Considered part of extended parental leave (up to three years)
Spain Up to 16 weeks (depending on the partner’s leave Up to 16 weeks (depending on the partner’s leave) Up to 16 weeks (depending on the partner’s leave
Sweden Up to 480 days (96 weeks) Parental leave is divided equally between parents; they may transfer entitlements to each other; one parent may use a maximum of 390 days while single parents are entitled to the full 480 days Same rights as biological parents

 

Latin America

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
Brazil 120 days (24 weeks) 5 days Same as Maternity and Paternity Leave
Colombia 18-20 weeks 8 days Same as Maternity and Paternity Leave)
Mexico 12 weeks 5 days 6 weeks for mothers; 5 days for fathers

 

Middle East and North Africa

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
Egypt 4 months Not specified Not specified
Saudi Arabia 10 weeks 3 days Not specified
United Arab Emirates 60 days 5 days Not specified

 

North America

Country Maternity Leave Paternity Leave Adoption Leave
Canada Up to 19 weeks (depending on the province) Up to 5 weeks (depending on the province) Considered part of extended parental leave (up to 63 weeks depending on the province) 
United States of America Up to 16 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave per year (depending on state laws and eligibility through the Family and Medical Leave Act) 

Up to 12 weeks of paid or partially paid leave (depending on state laws)

Up to 12 weeks of unpaid, paid or partially paid leave (depending on state laws and eligibility through the Family and Medical Leave Act) Up to 16 weeks of unpaid, paid or partially paid leave per year (depending on state laws and eligibility through the Family and Medical Leave Act) 

*In addition to observing national laws, jurisdictions within a country (city, province, free trade zone, etc.) may maintain their own regulatory framework for parental leave. 

Up next: supplemental benefits

In the next blog post, we will discuss the role supplemental benefits can play in increasing worker engagement, unifying cross-border teams and raising business outcomes. 

Check out our ‘What is an EOR?’ guide, view our HR at a Glance guides for countries around the world or contact us to talk with an international HR expert

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