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Global: New and proposed parental leave entitlements

Talent|Total Rewards|Future of Work

September 2, 2019

Several countries recently enacted or proposed increases and enhancements to leave entitlements for working parents, summarized in this article.

Employer Action Code: Act

A number of countries have enacted or proposed increases and enhancements to different types of leave entitlements for working parents over the past year, ranging from conventional enhancements (longer and better-paid maternity leave in the Philippines) to very targeted benefits (paid leave for parents caring for a child suffering from cancer in Mexico). The following list briefly summarizes the main changes and proposals over the past 12 months (listed by country or subnational jurisdiction).

Key Details

Country Leave
Austria Effective September 1, 2019, new fathers are statutorily entitled to one month of unpaid paternity leave, removing the requirement for the employer to agree to the leave. Pay replacement benefits are paid by regional sickness funds at EUR 22.60 per day.
Belgium As of January 1, 2019, adoption leave is six weeks for all eligible adoptions. The duration of leave is no longer linked to the age of the adopted child. In addition, leave will increase by one week every two years until 2027. As of September 2018, parental leave can also be claimed by a weekly one-tenth reduction in working hours.
Costa Rica The president of Costa Rica issued a decree in March 2019 to establish a commission to develop a proposal for paid paternity leave. No action had been taken on an earlier draft bill to provide five days of paid paternity leave. 
Hong Kong Effective January 18, 2019, employer-paid paternity leave increased from three to five days. The government is considering a proposal to extend paid maternity leave from 10 to 14 weeks; the four additional weeks would be paid by the government rather than by the employer.
India The government is developing a maternity leave incentive scheme under which it would reimburse employers for seven of the 26 weeks of current employer-paid maternity benefits. The reimbursement would apply only for mothers with monthly earnings of under INR 15,000 per month.
Ireland Unpaid parental leave increased to 22 weeks as of September 1, 2019, and will further increase to 26 weeks on September 1, 2020. Draft legislation with parliament would introduce paid parental leave from November 2019, payable by social security at the same rate as applies to maternity and paternity leave (EUR 245 per week).
Mexico Effective June 5, 2019, employees caring for children under age 16 who are undergoing cancer treatment can take up to 28 days of leave per certificate of application to social security (IMSS), subject to a maximum of 365 days over a three-year period. Pay replacement benefits are provided by IMSS at the same rate as applies to short-term disability (60% of covered pay). 
Netherlands Effective January 1, 2019, employer-paid paternity/partner leave increased from two to five days. Beginning July 1, 2020, social security will provide an additional five weeks of leave, payable at 70% of covered daily earnings (taken after employer-paid leave ends). Adoption leave also increased from four to six weeks from January 1, 2019.
Norway Amendments to the National Insurance Act came into effect on July 1, 2018, dividing the parental leave period into three roughly equal parts. While the total duration of the parental leave period remains the same, the times allocated to each parent and to the shared component of leave have been revised. The leave allocated to the mother and father increased from 10 to 15 weeks each on 100% of pay (or from 10 to 19 weeks on 80% of pay). The shared leave component decreased from 26 to 16 weeks on 100% of pay (or from 36 to 18 weeks on 80% of pay). In addition, leave provided for multiple births has been extended.
Philippines Maternity leave increased from 60 to 105 days from March 8, 2019. Leave is payable by social security at 100% of covered pay; however, the law also introduced an employer mandate to top up social security benefits to 100% of normal pay for the duration of leave. Employees can also request additional maternity leave of up to 30 days without pay. Finally, up to seven days of paid maternity leave can now be transferred to the father.
Romania Effective April 23, 2019, female employees undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment are entitled to three days of paid leave for the procedure.
Spain Paternity leave increased from five to eight weeks effective April 1, 2019, and will increase again to 12 weeks from January 1, 2020, and then 16 weeks from January 1, 2021, so it aligns fully with maternity leave. Pay replacement benefits are provided by social security at 100% of covered pay.
Thailand As of May 5, 2019, maternity leave increased from 90 to 98 days, with the first 45 days provided at 100% of pay by the employer and the remainder by social security at 50% of average daily wages.
(Dubai International Financial Center, or  DIFC)
Employees in the DIFC with at least 12 months of service are entitled to five days of employer-paid paternity leave as of August 28, 2019.
United Kingdom In July 2019, the government opened public consultations until November 29, 2019, on parental leave entitlements. Items on the reform agenda include enhancing the duration of maternity and paternity leave, increasing Statutory Maternity/Paternity Pay and allowing for more flexibility in use, among other things.  
United States Over the past 12 months, the following four states have enacted legislation to provide for or enhance paid maternity or parental leave, funded by dedicated payroll taxes levied on employees, employers or both. There is no such program under federal law.   
Connecticut: 12 weeks of paid parental leave coming in 2022 
Massachusetts: 12 weeks of paid parental leave beginning in 2021
New Jersey: Temporary disability benefits (available for parental leave) increasing from six to 12 weeks from July 2021
Oregon: 12 weeks of paid parental leave benefits beginning in 2023
Zambia New legislation, effective April 19, 2019, increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks and established new entitlements of five days of unpaid paternity leave; seven days of paid leave to care for a sick child, spouse or dependent; and three days of paid leave for reasons related to ensuring the welfare, health or education of the employee’s child, spouse or dependent.

Employer Implications

Employers should review their leave policies to ensure compliance in countries in which they operate and might want to examine their global or regional family leave policies and practices in order to maintain or promote equitable treatment among all employees.

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