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Countries that offer the best support to working mothers

If you’re looking to move for work, the changes and opportunities become even more important if you are planning, expecting, or raising a family alongside having a career.

As an expat woman you may want to know which are the best countries in the world for working mothers. From planning to start a family, pregnancy, through to child care, we look at where working mothers (and fathers) are best supported.

Health care

At every stage of having a family, affordable and comprehensive health care that provides a high standard of care is extremely important. Here are our top countries for expat healthcare provision:

The UK – the NHS is renowned for being one of the leading State funded medical systems. If you are moving from within the EEA to the UK, you will benefit from the ‘free’ medical care. For expats moving from elsewhere, there are clear payment rules. For example, a normal maternity birth for a non-EEA resident expat would cost £2,188. There are provisions for private health care, and comprehensive health insurance available – these may be part of your new job package, dependent on employer.

Taiwan – expats living in Taiwan have routinely recognised the benefits of the health insurance system here. The healthcare in Taiwan is considered one of the easiest to set up and the healthcare itself is of a very high standard, and often costs less than the expat’s home country. These great ratings have resulted in Taiwan being rated the best healthcare system in the world by expats.

France –  the expat community in France consider the healthcare provisions there to be of exceptional quality, which is incredibly reassuring to mothers to be. Post-partum, mothers in France enjoy extended recovery time in the hospital.

Maternity Cover

Nothing should interfere with your post-natal bonding process, especially not finances. For many working mothers, the maternity cover available is the employment factor which impacts them most. Here are some of the best maternity cover provisions, worldwide:

Italy – new mothers in Italy benefit from 22 weeks of paid maternity cover, paid at 80% of your full salary, as well as two paid weeks to prepare for the birth.

The Netherlands – not only do new mothers get 16 weeks of paid maternity at 100% of their salary, but they can then take a further 26 weeks unpaid. On top of this, Dutch mothers receive excellent support from a Kraamzorg – an assistant from the hospital who stays with you for a week after the birth to offer support and advice.

Iceland – Icelandic mothers, and fathers, are treated very well. The mother will be paid 80% of her salary for the first 90 days of maternity cover, and so will the other partner. There is also an additional 90 days which can be shared between the parents, to be used up until the child is 18 months.

Norway – with arguably the best maternity package in the world, mothers in Norway are entitled to an entire year of paid maternity leave.  Plus, all births are completely free due to universal healthcare.

Childcare

Once your maternity break is over, and you’re ready to return to work, finding quality and affordable childcare that meets the needs of your family is the priority. Here are countries that provide excellent childcare support/provisions:

The UK – in the UK the State provides for 570 hours of free childcare per year for 3 to 4 year olds. All state schools for children from the age of 5 are state funded.

Sweden – arguably the best childcare in the world, the Swedes not only charge for childcare on a sliding scale relative to income, but all childcare costs are capped at a maximum of about £112 a month. All preschool is free for 4 and 5 year olds.

Portugal – to meet the needs of working parents, school stays open from 9am until 5.30pm, reducing the need for additional childcare. The final two hours of every school days sees children benefit from teacher led extracurricular activities, such as sport and music. Additional child care is also state subsidised, with fees dependent on income.

Flexibility

Family life is enriched by all the school plays, unexpected appointments and birthday parties! As a working parent, flexibility and shorter working hours are often just as important to a happy and healthy work/life balance as the job or salary. Here are some of the world’s best countries for short work weeks and flexible working culture:

Denmark – with an average work week of just 29 hours, their working hours make it easier for parents to spend more time with their family and less money on childcare.

India – half of all employed people in India work from home, making it a great place to live for working families.

Malaysia – The prime Minister has championed the need for flexible working, remote working, job share and compressed working weeks to keep high value female employees in work whilst also raising a family. As a result, more companies are changing their policies, with some even providing company funded childcare on site. Keep your eyes peeled for legislative changes to support the PM’s views.

If you’re considering a move abroad with children, why not get in touch with our international relocation experts and find out how we can help with your move? We support you in every aspect of the relocation process, including our tailor-made services for families.

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