Maternity Leave in Norway

It’s Mat Leave Monday! Today I’m talking about maternity leave in Norway. I know that I said I was going to stick to English-speaking countries, but I’ve discovered that many countries offer comprehensive government websites in English, so I’m branching out.

As always when I’m talking about countries outside of Canada I have no first-hand knowledge. For more detailed information in English refer to The Rights of Parents of Small Children or the information on Parental and Adoption leave from the Official Site of Norway in the UK. If you’re looking for information in Norwegian you’re miles ahead of me, and so you’re going to have to fend for yourself. 😉

I am actually one quarter Norwegian. My great grandparents moved to Canada in the early 1900s. My grandfather, their son, spoke no English when he started school. He used to make special Norwegian treats at Christmas like krumkake and fatigman (I always liked the fatigman best). He also made some amazing pickled herring, and taught me how to say the names of my fingers in Norwegian. Of the various nationalities that comprise my heritage, I feel the most connected to the Norwegian bit. And although I’ve never been to Norway, I would love to visit. See for yourself how beautiful it is:

Norway offers new parents national, government-funded parental leave. To qualify, you must have earned pensionable income through employment for at least 6 of the 10 months preceding leave. Employment in another EU country may be added to employment in Norway. Self-employed workers also qualify, although they receive benefits based on only 65% of their income, unless they take out voluntary insurance at least 10 months before their leave starts.

There are two options for taking parental leave. The first option is take 54 weeks of leave at 80% of your pay. The second option is to take 44 weeks of leave at 100% of your pay. The maximum insurable income as of 2006 was NOK 377,352 (roughly equivalent to $69,400 CAD or $57,464 USD). This means that your maximum weekly earnings are either $1068 CAD or $1335 CAD, depending on which option you choose. If there are multiple births (or adoptions) the benefit period is extended by 7 weeks per additional child if you chose to take your benefits at 80%, or 5 weeks per additional child if you chose to take your benefits at 100%.

The first three weeks of benefits must be taken by the mother prior to the birth, although she is permitted to take leave as early as 12 weeks prior to birth if she chooses. The first 6 weeks after the birth are reserved for the mother as well. 6 weeks of benefits are reserved for the exclusive use of the father. If either parent chooses not to use these benefits, they are lost. The remaining 29 or 39 weeks can be used by either parent.

Adoptive parents receive slightly shorter leaves, since they do not qualify for the mandatory three weeks prior to the birth. Also, the first 6 weeks after birth is not reserved for the mother, although there is still a ‘father quota’ of 6 weeks. Otherwise, their benefits are the same. So adoptive parents receive either 51 weeks at 80%, or 41 weeks at 100%. Parents who are adopting from abroad also qualify for a special grant of NOK 38,320 (approximately $7048 CAD or $5835 USD), paid after the child arrives in Norway.

Women who do not qualify for paid leave may still take unpaid leave. They receive a lump sum grant of NOK 33,584 (approximately $6177 CAD or $5114 USD), and their partners may receive parental benefits if the mother is working, attending school, or ill.

Norway’s parental leave reflects a strong commitment to supporting families, and giving children the best start possible. I think that’s commendable, and I wish that more countries recognized the importance of long term funded maternity leave. Way to go, Norway! 🙂

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  1. You’ve put together such an educational series! It’s quite enlightening to know how other countries fare.

  2. We here in the Southern USA have been taught at an early age that socialist countries are EVIL. We are taught that from Church. Here we bash countries such as Norway for being family oriented. This does not make sense. When the truth is unfolded I often find that Christianity here in the USA, is lost. Many Americans are told that European countries are Evil because of their socialistic policies. I can only hope that America can pass through these trying times and become a more knowledgeable, and intellectual neighbor to the World . The crisis here is mis-information. I really enjoy reading about my ancestral home of Norway and how they take care of their people and control income disparity. There are hardly any policies that have not been thought out thoroughly. It seems that Norway decides on policies that do the greatest benefit to the greatest amount of people. Here we push through policies based on political pull. This is wrong. I hop e Norway continues to push for their citizens best interests.

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  1. […] they do offer are fairly well-funded. Although I still think that the maternity leave plans in Norway and Sweden are better, Germany definitely stands apart as a country working to support new […]

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