Australia second “stingiest” OECD country when it comes to parental leave

Parents holding newborn baby

As our elected representatives continue to play politics with the parental leave entitlements of Australians, it is interesting to compare the value our nation places on parenting to that of other OECD countries.

Many might be shocked (or not) to know that out of 38 countries, Australia comes in second last on the generosity scale – beaten to last place only by the US, which offers parents no national leave entitlements at all.

That’s right, we only beat one other country in the value we place on having a parent home in those first few critical years of a child’s life because we offer … well … something.

In this table, released by The Economistthe OECD countries’ generosity to new parents is compared by looking at the full-pay equivalent portion of the leave – the period of leave covered if the average worker’s earnings are paid in full.


“On this metric, the most generous countries are in central and eastern Europe, where governments spooked by rapidly shrinking populations are trying to bribe couples into having more babies,” an accompanying report to the table explains.

“In Estonia and Hungary, for example, new mothers can stay at home for three years, receiving total pay equal to about a year-and-a-half of the average salary.

“Among rich countries, Australia, Britain, Ireland and Switzerland are at the stingy end, offering mothers leave equivalent to three months or less of full pay.”

And what about parental leave for dads?

Personally, while I am exhausted by parental leave being used as a political football, I have long assumed Australia had at least taken small forward-thinking steps towards the parental leave offered to fathers.

But, as this table and report also reveal, there are more than a dozen countries beating us by leaps and bounds on this point too.

And let’s not forget, making things even harder for Australian families right now, the limbo those with a baby on the way or trying to conceive have been placed in as they wait to see if the Government’s changes to paid parental leave will get through.

Do you think it matters how generous Australia is with parental leave entitlements compared to other countries?


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