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Dads Are Big Winners In San Francisco’s Paid Family Leave Law

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to mandate that employers offer six weeks of paid leave for new parents at 100 percent of an employee’s salary, making the city the first place in the U.S. to enact fully paid family leave.

With the unanimous board vote on Tuesday, San Francisco also becomes an international outlier in offering generous paid family leave to partners. But it will still lag behind nearly all rich countries in paid maternity leave. (The state of California already offered six weeks of family leave to new moms and partners, but only at 55 percent of their wages.)

This is the second big step forward for paid-leave advocates in the past week. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill funding 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents, at 50 percent of a worker’s paycheck, administered by the state and funded through a payroll tax.

The United States is the only developed country whose government doesn’t guarantee paid leave to new parents. The real innovation in San Francisco’s and New York’s laws is that both mothers and their partners will benefit. And partners benefit the most, at least compared with those in other rich countries.

By the time it’s fully phased in, employed partners of new moms in New York state will have 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new baby, ranking between Iceland and Finland among countries that offer paid parental leave at any level that are tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And those in San Francisco will have more paid weeks off than partners in Spain, Denmark or the United Kingdom.1

However, San Francisco and New York state will still rank near the bottom internationally in paid maternity leave. Mexico offers 12 weeks of paid leave to mothers — and that’s the fewest of any nation in the OECD besides the United States. The average number of weeks offered in these countries is 54 weeks.

Estonia 166
Korea 53
Slovak Rep. 164
Japan 52
Finland 161
France 28
Hungary 160
Luxembourg 26
Bulgaria 110
Portugal 21
Czech Rep. 110
Belgium 19
Latvia 94
Iceland 13
Norway 91
New York (state) 12
Korea 65
Norway 10
Lithuania 62
Sweden 10
Romania 61
Finland 9
Austria 60
Germany 9
Sweden 60
Austria 9
Germany 58
Croatia 9
Japan 58
San Francisco 6
Croatia 56
Lithuania 4
Slovenia 52
Bulgaria 2
Canada 52
Slovenia 2
Poland 52
Spain 2
Denmark 50
Estonia 2
Italy 48
Poland 2
Greece 43
Denmark 2
France 42
UK 2
Luxembourg 42
Australia 2
UK 39
Latvia 1
Belgium 32
Hungary 1
Portugal 30
Romania 1
Chile 30
Chile 1
Iceland 26
Mexico 1
Ireland 26
Greece 0
Australia 18
Netherlands 0
Cyprus 18
Italy 0
Malta 18
Malta 0
Netherlands 16
Slovak Rep. 0
New Zealand 16
Czech Rep. 0
Spain 16
Canada 0
Turkey 16
Ireland 0
Israel 14
Cyprus 0
Switzerland 14
New Zealand 0
New York (state) 12
Turkey 0
Mexico 12
Israel 0
San Francisco 6
Switzerland 0
United States 0 United States 0
Where paid family leave is longest

Country data as of April 2015.

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

These rankings reflect paid parental leave laws in place as of April 2015, according to newly released statistics from the OECD. The measures reflect both paid maternity/paternity leave — taken around the time of childbirth — and paid parental leave, a supplemental amount given in some countries to allow parents to care for a child in their first few months.

CLARIFICATION (April 7, 10:50 a.m.): The data in the table accompanying this article includes parental leave available to mothers and parental leave reserved for fathers, according to the OECD. It does not include a sharable paid-leave entitlement for the family, available in Sweden, Denmark, and some other countries, which allows fathers to potentially take more weeks of paid leave.


  1. The specific OECD category is for fathers (or the “other parent”) because not every OECD country recognizes same-sex couples.

Andrew Flowers wrote about economics and sports for FiveThirtyEight.


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