If you’re an American, you’ve surely heard about the awesome maternity leave in places like Sweden. It makes our standard FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) of 12 weeks – unpaid – look eternally pathetic. Even if a mother could afford to take more than 12 weeks off work without pay, her job would surely be handed to someone else.
Not so in Sweden – or in Germany. Legally, the mother can take up to three YEARS of maternity leave, and her employer must allow her to return to her position. Also, if the employee and employer agree, one of those three years can be saved and taken when the child is between the ages of 3 and 8.
Granted, most of those three years of leave would be unpaid. But, there are paid benefits. The mother receives 14 weeks at 100% of her salary, starting 6 weeks before her due date. After the 14 weeks are up, she is entitled to 12 months at about 65% pay.
To sweeten this deal even further, if the father wants to take leave as well, then the couple has 14 months that they may divide among themselves. Again, these 14 months would be at 65% pay. Seriously, awesome.
And this is just what Doc Sci and I did. Since I did not work in Germany prior to Big Foot’s birth, I was (understandably) not eligible for the 14 weeks. But we were allowed to take the 14 months at 65% of Doc Sci’s pay.
We chose to only have him take two of the fourteen months. After all, we are here for him to gain experience in his field, and it seems counterproductive to just hang around living off the state for a year. But, even with only two months off, that is still far more than he ever would have had in the US. I love it.
I especially liked the option to not have to take the two months consecutively. As such, Doc Sci was home for Big Foot’s first month of life, and he will also be home for the fifth month of life (starting mid December).