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A Swede Deal On Maternity Benefits

Maternity benefits vary widely around the world, but Sweden leads the way, giving moms up to 96 weeks off, according to a study released Thursday.

For more than half that period, Swedish mothers also receive the equivalent of 80 percent of their salary. Pay decreases sharply after 390 days, according to the poll of 33 countries. The New York-based firm Mercer Human Resource Consulting released the study.

In the United States, there is no federal law requiring a minimum amount of maternity pay, although mothers may get short-term disability or sick leave benefits, the poll said.

Mothers in Norway, New Zealand and Australia got the second-best deal, with up to 52 weeks' leave, while women having babies in Singapore and Taiwan fared the worst, with only eight weeks off.

In Norway, a mother earning $25,000 a year would get $12,500 in state maternity pay during the first six months of her leave, according to the poll.

Brazil also did well, with mothers on a similar salary receiving $11,538 over the same period.

Danish mothers got maternity benefits of $10,556. Italian mothers received $10,096.

The lowest paying countries in the EU were Greece, Luxembourg and Britain, while the EU average was $6,738.

Australian mothers only get a one-time payment of $448.

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