• PublishedNovember 30, 2016









Becoming a new parent is no doubt a huge undertaking and that is why many governments across the world have made it mandatory for companies to give employees time off to care for their newborns. However, maternity leave differs from one country to another. We did a little digging to see how Kenya compares.


Score: 10/10

Sweden is definitely every working mother’s utopia. According to Swedish law, a mother is entitled to a year and one-and-a-half months (56 weeks) of maternity leave and remuneration of not less than 80 per cent of their total salary. A mother can still claim an additional 13 weeks at fixed rate remuneration. Additionally, the government offers full day public childcare. Talk about being set up nicely! Other countries with an almost equal package include Montenegro, Serbia and Denmark.

Compromise countries:

Norway offers a similar package but with a catch: a mother can take up to 56 weeks of maternity leave but is only entitled to a full salary for the first 46 weeks. Thereafter, she is entitled to 80 per cent of her remuneration. Mothers also qualify for government benefits to offset child-related costs.

In Poland, a woman is entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave at 100 per cent of their salary. They can also request up to a year’s leave, provided it is done before or within 14 weeks of childbirth. After 26 weeks, they are entitled to 60 per cent of their salary. Other countries where a woman can take up top a year’s leave include: Albania, Bosnia, Canada, UK.


Score: 9/10

Macedonia leads the pack in the second list of countries with best maternity policies. It offers almost 10 months of leave at 100 per cent remuneration. Other countries with almost similar benefits include:

Slovakia: A total of eight months, two weeks maternity leave, with 65 per cent remuneration.

Bulgaria: Eight months total maternity leave with 90 per cent remuneration.

Croatia: Seven months two weeks total of maternity leave days with 100 per cent remuneration.

Vietnam: Twenty-six weeks maternity leave with full pay.

Venezuela: Twenty-six weeks maternity leave with full pay.

Estonia: Twenty-six weeks maternity leave with full pay.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), maternity leave should be at least 14 weeks (ideally the best duration should be between 18 and 26 weeks), that is three-and-a-half months and women should get at least 66.7 per cent of their income.

Europe leads the pack in following the recommendation with an average of 27 weeks of leave for pregnant women. Some countries such as the UK, Canada, France, and Sweden recognise adoptive and same-sex parents as full-fledged parents and grant them both maternity and paternity leave.

In Kenya, the mandated maternity leave is 90 working days with full pay. In March 2015, the Kenyan Parliament passed a bill mandating employers to establish nurseries in their offices for nursing mothers.

The bill requires that employers provide breastfeeding stations, breast pumps, refrigerators and comfortable areas conducive for pumping milk.

The idea is to allow mothers to breastfeed children for the first six months, which is not only crucial for building children’s immunity, but also increasing survival rates among children.

Countries with the worst maternal policies

According to ILO and other reports, countries with the worst maternal policies are those with zero mandated maternity leave benefits from the government. This means the option of maternity leave, including if one should be remunerated is up to the employer, sometimes with no guarantee of job security thereafter. Countries that top the list of worst maternal policies include:

USA: While companies with over 50 employees are obligated to offer three months of maternity leave, they are not required to pay employees. Additionally, smaller companies are not obligated to offer their employees the same opportunity.

Liberia: The government mandates employers to give employees maternity leave but does not compel them to pay.

Papua New Guinea: Unfortunately, the government does not mandate employers to grant maternity leave or pay for that matter.

(Metrics: Employer liability, day off, Income – 50 per cent and more, ILO labour recommendations)

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