STA, 13 June 2019 - Slovenia is the eighth family-friendliest country among the developed world, according to the latest UNICEF report. The list of 31 developed countries with available data is topped by Sweden, followed by Norway, Iceland, Estonia and Portugal, while Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus, UK and Ireland are at the bottom.
The report ranked countries across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the EU based on their national family-friendly policies, which include the duration of parental leave at full pay equivalent, and childcare services for children until six years of age.
In the report, UNICEF says that family-friendly policies strengthen the bond between parents and their children, which is critical for the development of families and socially cohesive societies.
"There is no time more critical to children's brain development - and therefore their futures - than the earliest years of life," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "We need governments to help provide parents with the support they need to create a nurturing environment for their young children. And we need the support and influence of the private sector to make this happen."
Estonia offers mothers the longest duration of leave at full pay at 85 weeks, followed by Hungary (72 weeks) and Bulgaria (65 weeks). In Slovenia, the maternity leave lasts 48 weeks.
The only country included in the analysis with no national paid leave policy for mothers or fathers is the US.
The countries with the shortest maternity leave, up to 10 weeks, are Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland.
The report also finds that even when fathers are offered paid leave, many do not take it. In Japan, the only country that offers at least six months at full pay for fathers, only one in twenty took paid leave in 2017. In Slovenia, eight in ten fathers took paid leave in 2017.
The full report can be read here