Ah, the joy of seeing a new life begin and of holding your new-born baby in your arms for the very first time. It’s almost enough to make you want to take a few hours off work, isn’t it?
Incredibly, not every new father across the planet gets to share some special time with their new baby. In fact, the way that paternity leave works varies enormously from one country to another.
Depending upon where you have your baby, you could get anything from 2 years off work down to, well, nothing. So, if you want the joy of changing nappies and cleaning up milky vomit –and who doesn’t? Then which are the best and worst countries to work in?
The Countries with Little or No Guaranteed Paternity Leave
Can you believe that there are still some countries where Dad has to go straight from his first sleepless night with junior to work? Presumably you do if you live somewhere like Angola, Bolivia, Costa Rica or Andorra.
The truth is that there are many places across the world where a new father only gets a few hours with their new child before having to return to work. Not much better are the likes of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, where the tired and bleary-eyed father gets a single day off work. Heck, you might be back behind your desk before the little fellow has even opened his eyes or done his first adorable poop.
Among the most surprising countries on the list with zero paternity leave guaranteed are Canada and Austria. However, in these countries the parents can chose to take a certain period of leave split between the two of them as they see fit.
The paternity leave policy is notoriously poor in the USA, with a large percentage of workers having no rights at all and even mothers only being able to access up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. For this reason, many Americans look across the ocean jealously at the impressive leave given to new fathers in Europe, especially the Nordic countries.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
Next come the countries where a happy but exhausted new Dad gets some help in terms of paternity leave. These places include African countries like Benin, Cameroon and Kenya, where fathers get a couple of week of leave.
The Americas as a whole score poorly in this matter. Places such as Peru, Paraguay and Puerto Rico give the poor padres less than a week to get their feet back on the ground after the day of the birth.
Other countries that make an effort include the Philippines and Singapore (7 days of paid paternity leave). In Taiwan there’s a 7 days paid paternity leave to be claimed and it is up to 15 days in India.
The UK entitles fathers to one or two consecutive weeks where they will be paid either £140.98 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whatever is lowest). This isn’t the greatest amount of time to support their partner or spend time with the baby but again, it’s not the worst.
In Europe, the countries with decent policies include Belgium, with up to 17 weeks that can be split between the parents. Other European countries such as Malta, Spain and Cyprus also make an effort to give fathers enough time off to bond with their new babies before going back to work.
The World Leaders
Of course, when we think of the best paternity leave on the planet we tend to think of the Nordic countries, where a new father can happily spend enough time at home to learn how to put on a nappy instead of a tie every morning.
Sweden is arguably the world leader in this matter. Here, parents get up to 480 days at 80% of their pay. Of those days, 18 weeks are just for mum and 90 days dedicated to dad, with the rest to be split in the way they want to do it. Jeez, you wouldn’t want to go back to work after all that time watching daytime TV, would you?
In Iceland, there is a famous tradition of leaving babies outside to sleep in the cold but what about proud new fathers and their right to spend time with the little one? The good news is that Iceland is another world leader in terms of paternity leave.
In the land of fire and ice each parent gets 3 months and then they get 3 months to share between them and split in the way that best suits them, at 80% pay. So, Dad could be there for the first 6 months of his baby’s life, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
Finland and Denmark are other countries that make us think that rushing North to the Nordic countries just before a new baby is born might just be a sensible idea. Yet, some people also suggest that Lithuania has the best policy of all.
Here in the Baltic region, mum gets 18 weeks and dad gets 4 weeks. However, the reason why Vilnius is such a good place to have a baby is that the happy couple then gets a whopping 156 weeks to share between them.
Best of all, they can either get paid at 100% of their salary for the full first year or else 70% for 2 years. Can you imagine staying at home with baby on full pay for a full year?
Overall, it seems a real shame that not every new father gets to spend as much time with their new-born babies as in countries such as Sweden and Lithuania. However, no matter where your little one first sees the light of day, it is definitely worth making an effort to spend as much time with them as you can.
Need a male voice talent to get your message heard to fellow fathers around the world?
Listen to our samples here.