International Approaches

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How do other countries handle paid leave?

What does the U.S. have in common with Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland? They are the four counties in the world that don’t guarantee paid leave to new mothers.

Belarus? 126 days at 100% of pay and 3 years unpaid while your job is held. Dominican Republic? 12 weeks at 100% of pay. Malawi? 8 weeks at 100% of pay. Austria? 16 weeks at 100% of pay. Colombia? 12 weeks at 100% of pay.

And the list goes on, and on.  According to an extensive research study developed by researchers at the McGill University Institute of Health and Social Policy and the Harvard School of Public Health, 177 countries guarantee paid leave to new mothers (the U.S. does not). 74 countries give paid leave to new fathers (the U.S. does not). 163 countries mandate paid sick leave (the U.S. does not). 164 countries guarantee paid annual vacation (the U.S. does not). 157 countries guarantee one day of rest each week (the U.S. does not). 48 countries ensure paid time off to care for sick children (the U.S. does not). Co-author of the study Jody Heymann insists, “There simply is no negative relationship at all between decent working conditions and competitiveness or job creation. We found that a number of these guarantees are associated with increased competitiveness.”

What are some international approaches to workplace flexibility?

Of 20 high income nations studied by the Center for WorkLife Law, 17 have written laws to help parents adjust work hours. In Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, employers have to honor an employee’s request for a part-time or nonstandard work schedule or give a compelling reason why not. In the UK, workers have the explicit right to request flexible work arrangements. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that their evaluation of these statutory approaches suggest that “an explicit right to request flexible work can play an important role in preparing the U.S. economy for the future.”

Do many people work from home worldwide?

In a 2011 study conducted by global research company Ipsos for Reuters News, out of 11,383 online connected employees from 24 countries, 1 in 5 telecommute on a frequent basis. 34% said they would want to telecommute full-time if allowed by their employer. 83% reported that they agree that expanded options for telecommuting “will keep talented women in the workforce instead of leaving temporarily or completely to raise children and that telecommuters have less stress due to less time spent in getting to their workplace.” Regular telecommuting is most common among workers in the Middle East and Africa (27%), Latin America (25%) and Asia-Pacific (24%).

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