Last week, in his latest State of the Union Address, President Obama noted that the U.S. is just one of a few industrial nations in the world without laws mandating paid parental leave for employees. This had me wondering: Which are the other two countries that don't mandate paid leave to parents? Which countries offer the most paid leave? And which companies here in the U.S.—despite not having to legally provide any paid leave (that is, not receiving government subsidies to help pay for paid leave)—offer it anyway?
If you're also curious about these and other leave-related questions, and if you want to find out just how much (or little) you know about maternity and paternity leave policies worldwide, you can take the Parental Leave Aptitude Test (the PLAT) below. An answer key follows. Good luck!
1. Along with the U.S., which are the only other two countries in the world that don't subsidize paid parental leave for employees?
A. Canada and Ireland
B. Australia and New Zealand
C. Ghana and Uganda
D. Papua New Guinea and Oman
2. Which country mandates more days (54) of paid paternity leave than any other country in the world?
3. The U.K. mandates that its female citizens receive how many weeks of paid maternity leave?
4. True or false: California (the only U.S. state to get an "A" grade from the National Partnership for Women & Families when it comes to parental leave policies) mandates FEWER weeks of paid maternity leave to its employed female citizens than Mexico does to its employed female citizens.
5. How many countries in the world have enacted laws mandating some length of paid maternity leave?
6. Which of the following geographic regions offers, on average, the most weeks (100) of government-subsidized paid parental leave?
A. Western Europe
B. Eastern Europe
D. North America
7. Although there's no U.S. law mandating paid parental leave, there is something called the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was passed in 1993. The act allows U.S. employees to take up to 12 weeks of UNPAID leave without losing their jobs if they or a family member gets sick, or upon the birth of a baby. But there is one exception—which is what?
A. The act doesn't apply to men.
B. The act doesn't apply to companies incorporated in Maine or Alaska.
C. The act doesn't apply to individuals who make more than $250,000 a year.
D. The act doesn't apply to companies with fewer than 50 paid employees.
8. Even though there's no federal law mandating paid parental leave in the U.S., some U.S. companies choose to offer it to their employees. To that end, Google, often seen as a leader in parental leave (and other) benefits, offers how many weeks of paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave, respectively, to its employees?
A. 12 and 8
B. 18 and 12
C. 22 and 14
D. 24 and 14
9. True or False: YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki, Google's first employee to take maternity leave (Google owns YouTube), began her FIFTH maternity leave with Google last month.
10. According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, since Google increased the length of its paid maternity leave benefits by six weeks in 2007, the rate at which new mothers left the firm fell by what percent?
11. Why, according to Wojcicki, is retaining mothers good for Google's bottom line?
A. Minimizes turnover costs
B. Keeps in house the valuable skills, expertise, and perspectives of employees who are mothers
C. Mothers, when they come back to the workforce after maternity leave, have new insights
D. All of the above
12. Although the U.S. government doesn't subsidize paid parental leave, five U.S. states—California, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, and Rhode Island—subsidize some paid parental leave. That said, what percentage of the U.S. population is able to receive some length of paid parental leave?
13. True or False: The International Labour Organization recommends that parents throughout the world are given a minimum of 16 weeks of paid leave.
Answers: (1) d, (2) d, (3) c, (4) true, (5) d, (6) b, (7) d, (8) c, (9) true, (10) d, (11) d, (12) b, (13) false; it recommends a minimum of 12
Follow me @VaultFinance.
America’s Family-Leave Disgrace (The New Yorker)
Paid Maternity Leave Is Good for Business (WSJ)
This Oregon Restaurant Just Gave Its Workers Paid Parental Leave (BW)
10 Best Perks the Big 4 Offer
The Most Powerful Woman in the World and the Science of Her Success
One of the most interesting details packed into the recent 15,000-word New Yorker profile of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the fact that Merkel, widely considered to be the most powerful woman in the world, studied physics and earned her doctorate in quantum chemistry. This scientific background of Merkel's interested me so much that it led me to research the academic and work experience of the 43 men who've served as President of the United States.