One in six employees do not take their full parental leave when having a child

Global HR and payroll company Remote has investigated how inclusive the parental policies are in 11 different countries, looking at the length of maternity, paternity, and adoption leave, and the costs of childcare in each country.

Remote has also spoken to 5,708 full time employees and 544 employers to find out their views on inclusive parental leave and the benefits they can have on businesses and their staff.

Over one in five employers expect women to come back to work sooner than their full maternity leave 

When talking to employees, Remote discovered 15% of them don’t take their full parental leave, with 32% of males and 24% of females saying they’re hesitant to take theirs in full due to the fear of the stigma surrounding it. Pressure from employers to return could be a contributing factor, with 21% of them saying they expect women to come back to work sooner than their full maternity leave lasts, and 20% of them expecting men to come back before their full paternity leave ends.

When returning to work, 18% of employees said they have been held back from progressing at work since becoming a parent. Women are more likely to lose their opportunities to progress than men, with 21% of women compared to 16% of men saying they’ve been held back.

Canadian businesses named the most generous for parental leave policies

Some companies go above and beyond the required number of weeks off they’re required to give to their employees when having a child. With 27% of companies offering more paid parental leave than is legally required in the country it is registered.

Despite this, 39% of employees think their company should do more to make their parental policy more inclusive. Remote asked employees in 11 different countries how many weeks of full pay were staff at their organisation were allowed to take for different parental leave policies.

Offering an average of 25 weeks of full basic salary when on maternity leave, 22 weeks for paternity leave for different-sex couples, 22 weeks paid paternity leave for same-sex couples and 20 weeks of paid adoption or surrogacy leave, Canada was crowned the best place to have a baby for traditional and non-traditional families going into 2023.

Swedish companies allowed their employees to convert their adoption or maternity leave into shared parental leave for the highest number of weeks with an average of 17 weeks.

In comparison, the average number of weeks taken where full pay was offered in France was much lower. With just 15 weeks maternity leave, 12 weeks paternity leave for different sex couples, 12 weeks paternity leave for same-sex couples, 13 weeks for adoption or surrogacy leave and 7 weeks for converted shared parental leave.

The UK came in third place for its parental leave policies, with UK businesses offering an average of 21 weeks of full pay for maternity leave, 16 weeks of full pay for paternity leave for different-sex couples, 17 weeks paternity leave for same-sex couples, 18 weeks of full paid adoption or surrogacy leave, and 11 weeks for converted shared parental leave.

Singapore is the most expensive country for childcare at £480 a month per child 

Returning to work after having a child means parents then have to find appropriate care for their child whilst they’re away, which can be expensive and can directly affect employees’ decisions to return to work. Overall, 25% of employees said they struggle to afford childcare costs for their kids when they’re at work. Remote looked at 11 different countries to discover the most and least expensive places for childcare.

Costing SG$797.86 per month for each child, the equivalent of £480.05, Singapore has the most expensive childcare. This is followed by the USA with childcare costing US$457.33 (£372.98) each month per child. The UK also features in the top five, with childcare costing an average of £282.51 for each child per month. Out of the 11 nations studied, India had the lowest monthly cost per child at just £49.31 a month, over £430 less than Singapore.

Almost half of employees would favour a new role based on a company’s inclusive parental policy

Businesses incorporating inclusive parental policies into their companies are attracting and retaining new diverse employees, according to 70% of employers. A further 67% said inclusive parental policies help improve company culture and motivate employees. Almost half (49%) of employees said they’d favour a new role based on a company’s inclusive parental policies, and 47% said they would decline a job offer if the company’s parental policies didn’t meet their expectations.