When it comes to taking time off after having a baby, most American moms are aware that the United States isn't exactly a global leader for its parental leave policies. In fact, it's the only high-income nation among a small handful of countries that doesn't have a national paid leave law at all, according to NPR. But we already knew that the United States wasn't the best place in the world to welcome a child. So what country is? Is there a single country with the best paid leave laws out there?
There's actually a few countries that top the list, but Finland seems to come out on top. According to the World Economic Forum, expecting moms in the Nordic country can kickstart their maternity leave a good seven weeks before their due date (because hey, the final stages of pregnancy are zero fun, you have appointments to get to, and there's plenty of prep work to do).
After their babies are born, moms can take another 16 paid weeks off thanks to a maternity grant — and that maternity grant applies to all moms, regardless of whether they're full-time, part-time, self-employed, students, or unemployed. Dads get eight weeks of paid leave, and both parents make 70 to 90 percent of their previous annual earnings during parental leave, according to Brit + Co.
The paid leave fun doesn't end after that, however. After the paid leave is over, parents get 158 days parental allowance to share between them — either parent can use it as needed. Then, after a child turns 3 years old, parents are entitled to partial care leave, which lets them split time between home and work until the child starts second grade.
Oh, and it gets better. Same-sex couples are also entitled to parental allowance, single parents get higher child benefits than married couples do, and all parents are entitled to child benefit payments for every kid under 17 in their home, according to Inhabitots.
By law, parents' employment status can't change because of their new parental duties. As Tapani Ruohonen, a dad in Finland, told Fast Company in 2015: "It is written in Finnish law that becoming pregnant should not have any kind of effect on your career."
It may seem too good to be true, but Finland is far from alone when it comes to stellar paid parental leave practices. It's joined by countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Belgium, and more — so if you're looking to move abroad before you start a family, make sure you take a look at their paid leave policies. As it turns out, starting a family doesn't have to be quite as stressful as it might seem in other countries.