Discover the Best US States and Countries for Working Parents
As many working parents will know, finding the right job that suits your busy lifestyle is no easy task. Having a career and juggling family life can be challenging. However, through the right job search, you can find many options that make it easier for parents to have a good work-life balance.
The dynamic of work and family life is evolving, and more countries worldwide are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting working parents, enabling them to balance their professional aspirations with their responsibilities at home.
Looking back at last year’s Global Parent Pay Index, we reveal just how much the global parental leave policies have changed in the last 12 months. This is to find out which countries and states in the US have implemented paid leave policies to empower parents with more opportunities and flexibility.
From maternity and paternity paid leave laws across the globe to a state-by-state breakdown of paid family leave policies in the United States, we unveil the best locations that offer paid leave to support working parents.
How much have paid parental leave laws changed in the past year?
Last year we saw that 10 states had implemented paid family leave programs by early-mid 2022. However, this has since increased in uptake, and as of this year, there are more states with active programs, such as Colorado, Vermont, and Oregon.
In 2022, we saw that the state of Massachusetts offered the longest paid leave available in one year, which was as long as 26 weeks, whilst New Jersey offered the lowest payroll deduction rate of 0.14% – but has this stayed the same in 2023?
Regarding the best countries for Paid Parental Leave, Romania topped the list, offering full pay equivalent weeks of paid leave with a whopping 97.1 weeks to parents. This year, it seems a new country has taken the crown.
In comparison to last year, we unveil the states in the US with the best Paid Family Leave policies and highlight the states that have State Family Medical Leave Laws in place. To top it off, we will also reveal the best jobs for parents in 2023.
Paid Family Leave Policies in the US
Although not all states in the US offer Paid Family Leave (PFL) programs, they are gradually being introduced to more states across the country in the next few years.
Colorado’s PFL policy was enacted in 2020 but has been made effective as of this year, similar to the state of New Hampshire. In Minnesota, the PLF policy has been enacted as of this year but isn’t expected to be effective until 2026.
By 2025, it is estimated that Maryland’s income cap, subject to payroll deduction, will be $168,600, the highest among all other states, whilst Colorado currently offers a payroll deduction rate of 0.9% and an average of 12 weeks of paid leave.
In 2022, only six states offered job protection for employees taking time off, which increased to nine states. However, which states offer the best total paid leave available in one year?
Total Paid Leave Available in One Year (weeks): 52 weeks
Unlike last year, California takes the crown as the state that provides the longest total paid leave available in one year, with an impressive 52 weeks.
Employers in the state of California also provides eight weeks of paid leave for parental and family caregiving. Parents can also receive up to 52 weeks of paid leave for personal medical care. However, despite its impressive leave policies, California does not provide job protection for employees.
Total Paid Leave Available in One Year (weeks): 30 weeks
Although in second place, Rhode Island trails behind California’s impressive figures with a total of 30 weeks of paid leave. The Northeastern state offers six weeks of parental and family caregiving paid leave and up to 30 weeks for personal medical care. Unlike California, working parents also receive job protection.
New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts
Total Paid Leave Available in One Year: 26 weeks
New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts all complete the top three with 26 weeks of paid leave. Each state offers 12 weeks of paid leave for parental and family caregiving respectively.
Despite each state’s similar policies, there are some notable differences. Although both New Jersey and New York offer 26 weeks for personal medical leave, Massachusetts only offers 20 weeks. Additionally, both New York and Massachusetts provide job protection whilst New Jersey does not.
The Best Countries for Paid Parental Leave
Considering the full-rate equivalent pay in weeks for both mothers and fathers, we combined the total number to reveal the best country that offers the most paid leave in total.
Across the 43 OECD countries we looked at, 13 countries offered a 100% pay rate for fathers on paid leave, which is due to the fact that they receive fewer weeks on paid leave. However, for mothers, only 10 countries offered the full pay rate as they get longer periods of paid leave. This is two more countries that offer full-rate pay compared to last year. Only eight countries offer a 100% pay rate for both parents on paid leave, also two countries more than last year.
Most countries display a large difference in attitude towards mothers and fathers when it comes to paid leave. For example, Hungary offers fathers 159 weeks fewer than mothers.
On average, OECD countries offer paid leave of 50.8 weeks to mothers and 10.4 weeks to fathers, whereas EU countries offer an average of 64.6 weeks to mothers and 8.5 weeks to fathers. These overall averages are lower than last year.
Here are the countries that offer the best Paid Parental Leave for both parents combined:
Full-rate equivalent for both parents combined: 110.2 weeks
Hungary tops the list as the best country to offer the most full-pay equivalent weeks of paid leave, with an impressive total of 110.2 for both parents combined. The landlocked country in Central Europe provides mothers with 160 weeks of paid leave at a rate of 68.2%, whilst fathers receive just one week of paid leave at a rate of 100%.
Full-rate equivalent for both parents combined: 97.1 weeks
Although Romania ranked in first place last year, this year, the Southeastern European country comes in second place with a full-rate equivalent of 97.1 weeks for both parents combined. Mothers receive a pay rate of 85% over 108.7 weeks. On the other hand, fathers can get up to 5.3 weeks of paid leave at a slightly higher rate of 87.8%.
Full-rate equivalent for both parents combined: 89.0 weeks
Up from fourth place last year, Slovakia completes the top three with a full-rate equivalent of 89.0 weeks for both parents combined. For fathers in Slovakia, paid leave can be as much as 28 weeks at a pay rate of 75%, this is 136 weeks less than mothers who can receive a total of 164 weeks at a rate of 41.5%.
State Family Medical Leave Laws in the US
Only a few states have implemented Family Medical Leave laws in the US for employees who provide care for relatives such as a child, spouse or sibling. Most states offering medical leave require eligibility.
For example, in California, paid medical leave is offered to employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have done 1,250 service hours. However, in Washington D.C., eligibility is open to any public or private employer with employees who spend more than 50% of their time working in D.C.
Most states, including Colorado, Washington, and New York, offer a paid 12-week family medical leave for situations such as the birth or adoption of a child or if a family member has a serious medical condition.
Massachusetts offers as many as 20 weeks to manage a personal serious health condition. On the other hand, states such as Minnesota, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont don’t offer paid family medical leave, though employees can still take time off.
Although most states have enacted and implemented family medical leave laws, states such as Colorado, Delaware, and Oregon have yet to fully implement them.
The Best Jobs for Parents in 2023
Whether it’s job flexibility, or work-from-home opportunities that you’re after, to make your job search a little easier we’ve listed some of the best jobs for parents below:
Average base salary: $101,074
It turns out that risk assessment is not as stressful as it sounds. Research suggests that 60% of people who work in Actuaries report low-stress levels with an average base salary of $101,074 – perfect for a working parent. The job role is highly flexible, involving looking over charts and tables and analyzing data. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or working from your living room.
Information Security Officer
Average base salary: $98,401
If you’re a parent that loves all things data, then this just might be your ideal role. In today’s digital age, many businesses run on big data. As a result, Information Security Officers keep all that data safe and secure. In this role, you could earn an average base pay of as high as $98,401 while enjoying flexible hours.
Average base salary: $87,132
Who said busy parents can’t be Research Scientists? According to research, not only does this role offer a flexible schedule but more than half of people in the same field say that their job is relatively low-stress, which is great for parents balancing family life. This role offers an average base salary of $87,132.
Average base salary: $83,758
Tons of job flexibility, relatively low stress, and an average base salary of $83,758 – what more could you want as a working parent? Interestingly, the Healthcare Consultant role is one of the few jobs overwhelmingly held by women.
Research and Development Engineer
Average base salary: $81,253
Research and Development Engineer is another great role for working parents. Not only does this job role have an average base salary of $81,253, but 91% of Research and Development Engineers state that the job also offers much flexibility. In comparison, 61% agree that this is relatively low stress.
User Experience Designer
Average base salary: $79,767
Looking for one of the hottest jobs in tech right now? Then the User Experience Designer role might just be the perfect fit. You can easily work from home designing elegant ways for people to interact with software, making it a great match for parents. The best part is that this job also has an average base pay of almost $80,000.
Average base salary: $76,883
If you’re a parent looking to put your coding skills to practice, look no further. Software Developers are in high demand across the US.
This job role is not only great when it comes to work flexibility, and the ability to telecommute, but when almost all of your job responsibilities simply require sifting through thousands of lines of code, you can work from just about anywhere you want and get paid a hefty $76,883 doing so.
Business Intelligence Analyst
Average base salary: $72,889
Looking to brush up on both your working and parenting skills? Business Intelligence Analyst roles are a great option. This job role uses many skills that are key to good parenting, like fostering communication between departments and aiding in cross-team collaboration.
If you’ve ever settled a feud between your children – you can see the connection. What’s more, not only does this role offer job flexibility and low stress, but you can also look forward to an average base salary of $72,889.
IT Data Scientist
Average base salary: $72,469
With an average base salary of $72,469, tons of job flexibility, and relatively low stress, being an IT Data Scientist is a great occupation for working parents who are interested in IT but also love working with numbers. One of the great things about this role is that you also have the option to work from home.
Average base salary: $69,997
Not only will the work you do in this job role help you to make a positive impact on the world and contribute to creating a better place for your kids, but 90% of Environmental Engineers say their job is highly flexible, and more than half reported the role to be low-stress.
To find out the best countries for Paid Parental Leave, we sourced the data from OECD’s parental leave systems which looks at the implemented policies for paid leave for various countries across the globe.
Figures for paid leave entitlements available to mothers can be seen on p.3 whilst paid leave entitlements for fathers can be seen on p.7, these entitlements were put in place as of April 2022. Paid leave takes into account maternity/paternity leave as well as parental and home care leave. Data collection for this section was completed on 17/07/2023.
All data for Paid Family Leave (PFL) policies in the US was taken from the Bipartisan Policy Center. This data was collected on 11/7/2023.
For the medical State Family Medical Leave laws section, we gathered information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Data for this was collected on 11/7/2023.
All information and figures on the average base salary for the best jobs for parents in 2023 were taken from Payscale.com. This section was completed on 18/7/2023.