Shared Parental Leave…how do we compare?

Parents across the country now have more flexibility in how they organise the care of their children during the first 12 months.

“The new rules, which apply to couples with babies due or children matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, will allow parents to choose whether they want to share the mother’s maternity leave” (www.gov.uk)

Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay – so long as you meet the criteria.

We don’t qualify for this as our youngest was born in January this year.

Had he been born in April, we’d probably have seriously considered it.

Most probably trying to have more leave off together as I plan to nurse our baby until I go back to work next January.

For this reason, me going back to work earlier and my husband having the rest of my entitlement doesn’t really work for us.

It would be great if he could take leave after my entitlement finishes.

But I can see how it could work well for some families.

This all got me wondering what maternity/paternity entitlement our European neighbours get and how ours compares. So I did some research on a couple of countries …

Norway

Now I admit I am biassed here, because I love Norway. If I had to leave the UK, this is where I’d move to.

That said though, it is important to note that Norwegians pay higher taxes and this is reflected in their benefits for families!

Parents can choose between 49 weeks at 100% pay or 59 weeks at 80% pay.

Shared parental leave is 26 or 36 weeks long, depending on whether you’ve chosen 100% or 80% pay.

The shared leave must be taken during the first 3 years after the child’s birth. (www.nav.no)

What strikes me first of all is that this entitlement has the families best interests at heart.

It is a wonderful level of support that gives parents and their children a great start together as the high % of pay means that parents can stay off work for the full entitlement without their income suffering In the UK, parents can share 37 weeks of pay, but not at 100% or even 80%..

Germany

The system is Germany is apparently quite complex, but in a nutshell working parents can claim up to 12 – 14 months, which can taken by one or both parents.

The first 12 months is capped at 65% pay based on the previous year’s earnings. (www.expatbabies.com)

Again, the German system looks to value the time spent at home by funding it accordingly for a longer period of time.

So a quick look at two different European countries highlights that although this development in the UK may benefit families, it is still not in the same league of support our neighbours can access.

Anecdotaly, I’ve met mothers in the UK who have felt they have to return to work much earlier than they would like to because they simply can’t afford the alternative.

The first years of a child’s life are so important and I wonder how better off our children would be if something similar to either the Norwegian or German system was in place here?

I would also imagine that this support creates more positive working environments in that parents feel valued in the workplace.

But, I’ve not lived in these countries so I can only imagine…

Have you experienced parental leave in another country?

I’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments section below.

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