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50+ Maternity Leave Statistics in 2024

Stay informed about maternity leave with 50+ essential statistics. Gain valuable insights into policies and practices for expectant mothers in the workplace.
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The United States does not offer paid maternity leave, making it the only high-income country not to offer it. Maternity leave is a necessity. Numerous studies have shown the benefits that longer and paid maternity leave has on mothers and the development of children, as well as, the positive effects on the labor market.

Paternity Leave

  • Although some states have passed laws for paid paternity leavethe majority of states only give access to unpaid leave to fathers. (Babycenter, 2019) 
  • Paid paternity leave is offered in four states: California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York. (Wikipedia) 
  • 94% of OECD countries have parental leave policies. (Ohio State University, 2020) 
  • Fathers who take 2-week leave have better relationships with their children. (Springer, 2019) 
  • Paternity leave improves parental relationships, leading to lower divorce rates. (Ohio State University, 2020) 
  • All the men who took paternity leave were glad they did so and would do it again. 90% say that it improved their relationship with their partner. (McKinsey, 2021) 
  • 20% of the men who took paternity leave felt that the main downside was the risk of a career setback, but the benefits outweighed that worry. (McKinsey, 2021) 
  • 70% of men would like their company to have a culture that encourages taking leave, 63% are interested in policy support from their employers, and 30% look for an unaffected promotion timeline. (McKinsey, 2021)
  • Employers that grant paternity leave dropped to 27% in 2022, compared to 44% in 2020. (SHRM, 2022) 
  • Globally, 63% of countries provide paid paternal leave. (World Policy Analysis Center, 2022) 

Who has Access to Maternity Leave?

  • One in four women (23%) were back to work after two weeks of giving birth. (InTheseTimes, 2015) 
  • Only 13% of women in the private sector have any paid maternity leave. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016) 
  • 1 in 5 high-income workers (top 10% earner) get paid leave and only 1 in 20 in the bottom quartile. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013) 
  • 80% of women with college degrees took a sixweek leave when their baby was born, but only 54% of women without college degrees did so. (InTheseTimes, 2015) 
  • Workers in production, service jobs and construction were the least likely to have access to paid family leave. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016) 
  • Organizations that provide paid maternity leave decreased from 53% in 2020 to 35% in 2022. (SHRM, 2022) 
  • In 2022, only 28% of employers offer paid leave for parents who adopt, compared to 36% in 2020. The number of those offering paid foster child leave dropped from 28% in 2020 to 22% in 2022. (SHRM, 2022) 
  • In December 2021, 54% of US workers could take paid family leave for birth or adoption. (Urban Institute, 2022) 
  • 41% of Hispanic/Latinx and 51% of Black employees could take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, compared to 57% of white workers. (Urban Institute, 2022) 
  • 45% of women between 18 to 34 years of age have access to leave for birth or adoption. (Urban Institute, 2022)
  • Among women who can take paid parental leave, 16% could take only two weeks, 45% could take between two to 12 weeks, and 10% could take more than 12 weeks. (Urban Institute, 2022) 
  • 25% of civilian workers, 24% of private industry workers, and 27% of state and local government workers had access to paid family leave in 2022. (BLS, 2023) 

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

  • 40% of women do not qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave. (Healthline, 2016) 
  • However, only 39% can afford to take FMLA leave. (Diversitydatakids, 2020) 
  • Only mothers who work in companies with more than 50 employees, and have been employed at that same place for a year can qualify for the FMLA. (Department of Labor, 2023)
  • The minimum recommended leave by the World Health Organization is 18 weeks. (PubMed, 2014)
  • The earliest a woman can start her maternity leave is in week 29 of her pregnancy. (Howladerandco, 2015)
  • 25% of FMLA leaves are for a new child. The average time of the leave was 36 business days. (DOL, 2020) 

Effects on Health & Development

  • Women who took paid maternity leave experienced a 47% decrease in the odds of infant and maternal re-hospitalization. (PubMed, 2018) 
  • Maternity leave of 25 weeks or more is associated with a lower child mortality rate and better mental health for mothers. (International Journal of Public Health, 2007) 
  • Studies suggest that maternal employment during the child’s first year has negative effects on a child’s cognitive development. (NBER, 2000) 
  • Infants whose mothers are working within 12 weeks are more likely to have behavioral problems, less likely to be breastfed, and less likely to get regular doctor checkups. (Slate, 2011) 
  • According to research, numerous aspects of new mothers’ health improved after Norway changed its 12-week unpaid leave policy to 16 weeks of paid leave, including blood pressure, pain levels, exercise, and smoking behaviors. (AEA, 2021) 
  • When paternity leave was an option, moms reported less despair and stress, while dads reported less daytime exhaustion. (Springer, 2021) 
  • Paid parental leave is linked to better language development in toddlers and fewer newborn behavioral issues. (Infancy, 2021) 

Effects on the Labor Market

  • 65.6% of first-time mothers worked during their pregnancy. ( U.S. Department of Labour, 2017) 
  • Mothers who used paid leave had only a 2.6% probability of quitting their job and a 92.3% probability of returning to the same employer after birth. (IMPAQ, 2017) 
  • In comparison, mothers who did not utilize paid leave had a 34.3% probability of quitting their job and a 73.3% of working for the same employer post-birth. (IMPAQ, 2017) 
  • 87% of employers reported that their costs did not increase because of paid leave, and 9% reported that their costs decreased because of decreased turnover. (Researchgate, 2012) 
  • Women without paid maternity leave are more likely to drop out of the workforce. (Vanderbilt, 2013) 
  • More extended maternity leave policies increase the likelihood of women returning to work after giving birth and having additional children. (NBER, 2021) 
  • The rate of workforce involvement for women who only have one kid stabilizes but stays lower than before having the child. The employment participation rate is further reduced with future births, though. (Census, 2020) 
  • Compared to earnings before pregnancy or in the first trimester (three quarters before delivery), working mothers experience a $1,861 drop in income in the first quarter after giving birth. (Census, 2020) 
  • However, earnings return to their pre-pregnancy levels by the fifth quarter after birth, and then they increase by an average of $101 per quarter for the following six years. (Census, 2020) 
  • Only 18% of women who return to the workforce within a year of having their first child change employers. (Census, 2020) 

Foreign Comparison

  • The average paid maternity leave in OECD countries is just over 18 weeks, the US is the only OECD country not to offer it. (OECD, 2019) 
  • The United States does not offer paid maternity leave at the federal level, making it the only high-income country not to offer it. (Healthline, 2016) 
  • 90 out of 187 countries worldwide offer statutory paid paternity leave. (McKinsey, 2021) 
  • The United States of America and Papua New Guinea are the only countries that do not provide parental leave for either parent. (World Policy Analysis Center, 2022) 

Research has shown that paid maternity leave increases employee retention and nurtures a more productive and healthier workforce for generations to come.

Written by shortlister editorial team

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