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Childcare, 'baby cash', 3 years off: 5 top parenting benefits from around the world

Jun 26 2019 06:01
Belinda Mountain

If you run a small business, you’ll know that the happier your employees are, the more value they add to your company – which is better for everyone in the long run.

One way companies can add huge value to their employees is through the benefits they offer new parents. Besides financial help through paid leave, companies can also support families in many ways once mom or dad has returned to work.

We’ve rounded up some of the best parenting benefits around the world.

1.      More than a year off

In South Africa, new mothers are allowed to take just four months off to tend to their newborn. Compare that to countries like Canada, the UK, Japan and most Nordic countries, where mothers are given a year or more off after their baby arrives.

Some companies may wince at the thought of giving mothers such a long period off, but when viewed in the long term, it’s an excellent way of fostering employee loyalty when they do eventually return to work.

Many countries that give long maternity leave periods also offer partial payment of differing levels: in Sweden, 480 days of maternity leave is given for 80% of your normal pay, while in Hungary, you can get around three years of paid time off (but for less than half your full-time salary).

2.      Dads play a vital role, too

In Sweden, in addition to normal maternity leave, dads are entitled to up to 90 days of paternity leave.

Besides helping to improve the parenting bond between Swedish fathers and their babies, this also enables an easier transition for the mother to return to work once her maternity leave is over.

In Iceland, parental leave is split equally between parents: three months is reserved for mothers, three months is for fathers, and then a further three months of leave is granted for the couple to use as they choose.

3.      Companies filling the gap

While the US is known for its decidedly stingy maternity leave policy (it’s one of the only industrialised countries that doesn’t have mandated parental leave), some US companies are stepping up to make conditions better for working parents.

Netflix offers up to a year’s maternity leave, but they also offer unlimited employee leave – so when parents come back to work, it’s far easier for them to take time off to take a sick child to the doctor, for example.

Facebook gives new parents $4 000 (R57 244) of "baby cash" once the employee’s baby is born, and four months of fully paid leave.

Then there’s outdoor apparel company Patagonia that has a heavily subsidised on-site childcare centre at their California headquarters, meaning parents are more easily able to see their children throughout the long working day.

4.      A new baby gift

Since the late 1930s, every expectant mother in Finland is issued with a "maternity box" from the Finnish government, containing clothes, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bath products, nappies, bedding and a mattress. The box isn’t just a storage container – it’s also often used as the baby’s cot in those first few newborn weeks.

While the box is a useful gift in and of itself, it’s also appeared to help lower infant mortality rates in the country: in order to get the box, mothers-to-be are required to visit a pre-natal clinic early on in their pregnancy, and this access to pre-natal healthcare results in higher birth rates and healthier babies.

5.      Childcare is subsidised

It’s one thing for your employees to watch their pennies during maternity leave (especially if they’re not earning a salary) but dealing with all the new costs of raising a child over the long term can be an even harder challenge.

In Denmark, all children between the ages of six months and five years are given a place in the country’s public childcare system, which includes excursions, extra-mural activities and meals each day.

The state pays a minimum of 75% of this cost, and there are discounts for siblings too.

**

All countries have their unique challenges and identities – and, consequently, their own unique parental leave policies, with some vastly better than others.

But if your company can show ways of supporting new parents, it’s likely that you’ll have loyal employees for years to come.

If you contribute to your employee’s medical aid, many providers like Fedhealth have maternity programmes including gorgeous baby products, discounts on baby equipment and handy expert advice to help support new parents – which is a great place to start.

Belinda Mountain is co-founder of Black Mountain.

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