Britain puts family low on the list: Esther Oxford compares countries' help for mothers

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The Independent Online
DENMARK: 28 weeks on 90 per cent of full salary, equivalent to 22 weeks on full pay. Employer pays the first two weeks, thereafter financed by government (50 per cent local, 50 per cent central).

ITALY: 20 weeks on 80 per cent of full salary, equivalent to 17 weeks on full pay. Maternity benefit is payed for by employers.

LUXEMBOURG: 16 weeks on 100 per cent salary. Maternity benefit is funded by the state.

GREECE: 16 weeks on 100 per cent salary. Employer/employee contribution (broadly similar to national insurance) on a 2:1 ratio.

NETHERLANDS: 16 weeks on 100 per cent salary. Employer/employee contribution - 5:1.

GERMANY: 14 weeks on 84 per cent of salary, equivalent to 13.5 weeks' full pay. Employer/employee contribute 1:1 to a 'sickness and maternity' fund. The employer then tops up payment from the fund to 100 per cent of pay.

SPAIN: 16 weeks on 75 per cent of pay, equivalent to 12 weeks on full pay. Employer/employee contribution - 5:1.

BELGIUM: Four weeks on 82 per cent of pay, then 10 weeks on 75 per cent of full pay, equivalent to 11 weeks' full pay. Employer/employee contribution - 2:1.

IRISH REPUBLIC: 14 weeks on 70 per cent of pay, equivalent to 10 weeks' full pay. Employer/employee contribution 2-3:1.

UNITED KINGDOM: After at least two years' service with employer, 90 per cent of earnings for 6 weeks followed by 12 weeks at a flat rate of pounds 47.95, equivalent to 8 weeks' full pay. Other working women or recently employed women receive either pounds 47.95 or pounds 43.75 for 18 weeks. This is equivalent to 4 weeks' full pay. The state pays for the bulk of statutory maternity benefits.

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