UNICEF report says richest countries scrimp on parental leave
UNITED NATIONS. KAZINFORM Only half of the 41 high and middle income countries surveyed offer at least six months of leave at full pay for mothers, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF said Thursday, Xinhua reports.
A report titled "Are the World's Richest Countries Family-friendly?" ranks countries across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and European Union based on their national family-friendly policies.
These policies include the duration of parental leave at full pay equivalent and childcare services for children aged under six.
UNICEF advocates at least six months of paid leave for parents, and universal access to quality, affordable childcare from birth to children's entry into the first grade of school.
The report said that Estonia offers mothers the longest duration of leave at full pay at 85 weeks, followed by Hungary (72 weeks) and Bulgaria (65 weeks). The United States is the only country included in the analysis with no national paid leave policy for mothers or fathers.
The report also finds that even when fathers are offered paid leave, many do not take it. In Japan, the only country that offers at least six months at full pay for fathers, only 1 in 20 took paid leave in 2017. South Korea has the second longest, yet fathers only make up one in six of all parents who take parental leave.
"There is no time more critical to children's brain development -- and therefore their futures -- than the earliest years of life," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore on the agency's website.
"We need governments to help provide parents with the support they need to create a nurturing environment for their young children. And we need the support and influence of the private sector to make this happen," she added.