Parental leave or family leave is an employee benefit available in almost all countries. The term “parental leave” generally includes maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. A distinction between “maternity leave” and “parental leave” is sometimes made- maternity leave as the mother’s leave time directly before and after childbirth and parental leave being the time given to care for newborns or young children. In some countries and jurisdictions, “family leave” also includes leave provided to care for ill family members. Often, the minimum benefits and eligibility requirements are stipulated by law.
Unpaid parental or family leave is provided when an employer is required to hold an employee’s job while that employee is taking leave. Paid parental or family leave provides paid time off work to care for or make arrangements for the welfare of a child or dependent family member. The three most common models of funding are social insurance/social security (where employees, employers, or taxpayers in general contribute to a specific public fund), employer liability (where the employer must pay the employee for the length of leave), and mixed policies that combine both social security and employer liability.
Parental leave has been available as a legal right and/or governmental program for many years, in one form or another. In 2014, the International Labour Organization reviewed parental leave policies in 185 countries and territories, and found that all countries except Papua New Guinea have laws mandating some form of parental leave. A different study showed that of 186 countries examined, 96% offered some pay to mothers during leave, but only 81 of those countries offered the same for fathers. The United States, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, and several island countries in the Pacific Ocean are the only countries that do not require employers to provide paid time off for new parents.
Private employers sometimes provide either or both unpaid and paid parental leave outside of or in addition to any legal mandate.

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