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Revealed: the best and worst countries for employed new parents

4 minute read

353,000 babies are born every day worldwide; that’s 255 births each minute. After spending nine whole months in the womb, parents around the globe are excited to finally meet their and child, spending quality time with them as they settle in at home. However, some get more quality time with their newborn that others, so how does this compare worldwide and across Europe?

Research by Red Letter Days explores what each country has to offer new parents, revealing how others globally compare to the UK when it comes to maternity leave, paternity leave and LGBT parenting acceptance.

The team collected data from every country across the globe to see how many actually offer leave specifically for dads (paternity leave), how many countries accept LGBT parenting through adoption, and where is the best place to live for new mums and making the most of maternity leave?


The three countries that BEAT the UK for their maternity leave offering:

When looking into what each country has to offer for new mums, it was revealed that Estonia, Croatia, and Bulgaria all offer more maternity leave than the UK. However, the UK’s offer sits high on the list when comparing worldwide. The UK is 4th on the list for the country that offers the most maternity leave in weeks for new mums.

Women in the UK are currently entitled to 52 weeks of statutory leave, whereas Estonia offers 62 weeks and Croatia and Bulgaria both offer 58. The US remains at the bottom of the list for maternity leave benefits, with 0 weeks of guaranteed leave for new working mums.

Top 10 countries for maternity leave:

  • Estonia – 62 weeks
  • Croatia – 58 weeks
  • Bulgaria – 58 weeks
  • UK – 52 weeks
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 52 weeks
  • Montenegro – 52 weeks
  • Albania – 52 weeks
  • Ireland – 42 weeks
  • Macedonia – 39 weeks
  • Norway – 35+ weeks

The top 10 worst countries for maternity leave:

  • USA – 0 weeks
  • Papua New Guinea – 0 weeks
  • Tunisia – 4 weeks
  • Malawi – 8 weeks
  • Sudan – 8 weeks
  • Cape Verde – 9 weeks
  • Eritrea – 9 weeks
  • Guinea-Bissau – 9 weeks
  • Mozambique – 9 weeks
  • Sao Tome and Principe – 9 weeks

90 countries don’t offer paternity leave time at all – including the US:

Out of the 169 countries researched, the UK ranks 13th on the list of best countries for paternity leave offering working dads two working weeks (10 days) with their new-born child. As soon as the two weeks are over, fathers are sent straight back to work.

This is considerably less than mums who receive 52 weeks maternity leave in the UK however there is a bigger issue worldwide. The study reveals that 90 countries don’t offer paternity leave time at all including Canada, China, Germany and the US. Many countries however do offer parental leave which can be shared between mum and dad, but research reveals that just 1% of dads take this up.

South Korea offers the most, at 52 weeks, and 8 out of the 12 countries that beat the UK on paternity leave schemes are within Europe.

Sweden offers the best paternity leave in Europe at 12 weeks and is known for its generous parental scheme too.

Top 10 countries for paternity leave:

  • Korea, Republic of – 52 weeks
  • Sweden – 12 weeks
  • Slovenia – 12 weeks
  • Iceland – 12 weeks
  • Finland – 11 weeks
  • Spain – 8 weeks
  • Lithuania – 4 weeks
  • Portugal – 3 weeks
  • India – 2+ weeks
  • France – 2+ weeks

The worst countries for paternity leave that offer 0 weeks:

  • China
  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • USA
  • Canada

Just 26 countries legally accept LGBT parenting through full adoption – and 16 of those are in Europe:

LGBTQ+ rights have come on leaps and bounds after decades of struggle. But the fight is not over yet. Many countries have laws dictating whether a same-sex couple is legally entitled to adopt, or if they are banned on the basis of their sexuality.

The data shows that 26 out of the 169 countries do allow joint adoption for same-sex couples, leaving 143 that don’t support LGBT parenting through adoption. Of the 51 countries in Europe, 16 allow same-sex adoption. Countries that don’t include Russia, Poland and Greece.

The 26 countries that legally accept joint adoption for same-sex couples:


  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Isreael
  • New Zealand
  • Luxembourg
  • Australia
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • France
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Belgium
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • Argentina
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Uruguay
  • USA

Alison Vickery, Marketing Director said: “Many new parents consider their baby to be the greatest gift they have ever received. But not being able to spend quality time with them as they settle in their new homes can affect the bond they have with their child. We at Red Letter Days conducted research around becoming a new parent worldwide and compared each countries offering to see how they compared to the UK.”

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