Brits tempted to jet off to more ‘family-friendly’ countries to beat the cost-of-living crisis are being warned to do their homework – as they may not be entitled to the parenting perks they want.
Sweden was crowned the best country for working parents in 2022 whereas the UK failed to even make an appearance in the top 20, according to research.
The study analysed 31 countries around the world, investigating which are the best for working parents by comparing government policies on maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
Scandinavian parents are not tied down to maternity or paternity leave but instead are offered a Shared Parental Leave policy that is set at a whopping 240 days (or 34 weeks) per parent.
This gives new families a total of 480 days leave to spend with their newborn baby.
The cost of living is also much lower in Sweden with average lower rents of £811 per month compared to the UK’s £1,713 per month and basic utilities of around £64 compared to £167.
This coupled with private childcare of around £101 a month in Sweden to £970 a month in the UK, makes it even more appealing to cash-strapped Brits – an eye-watering total difference of £1,874 a month.
In contrast to Sweden the UK languishes near the bottom of the table, placing 25th out of the 31 countries featured in the study.
The UK offers less time off for new parents, around 39 weeks in total, with much of that time being on less pay and on average, higher living costs to factor in.
Although the study, compiled by online printing specialists instantprint, highlights the benefits of other countries, experts urge caution as there may be specific conditions employees have to meet before they can take advantage of such perks.
For example, you need to live in Sweden for a minimum of one year in order to claim residence-based benefits but in order to gain permanent residency, you would need to have lived in Sweden continuously for five years.
The small European country of Luxembourg also didn’t fare well in the research, taking the unenviable bottom spot on the table.
Luxembourg offers just 20 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave to new mothers at 100% of their pay, and nothing at full pay for fathers. There are 24 weeks available of unpaid shared parental leave though.
Cost of living is also high here, with the average rent for a family home in the region of £1,881.
Basic utilities average £222 (more than triple the cost of those in Sweden), and private childcare costs are a substantial £1,036 on average each month.
The USA, Germany, Austria, Belgium and Denmark joined Luxembourg at the bottom end of the scale.
instantprint also quizzed 2,000 Brits how they feel about current Statutory Maternity and Paternity packages.
According to their poll, four in ten (40%) believe the current remuneration packages for new mothers are ‘less than adequate’.
A further third (33%) agree that Adoption Leave Pay is also not good enough.
Just over a fifth of those surveyed (22%) said the company they work for offers an enhanced Maternity or Paternity package, in addition to the government’s statutory policies.
Head of instantprint, Laura Mucklow, said: “It’s clear to see that not all countries are built equal when it comes to their government’s policies on maternity and paternity leave.
“Some countries offer no official policies at all versus others letting new parents take more than a year off to be with their child.
“When you look at the variables such as available shared parental leave, the cost of living and childcare in each country, it’s obvious that some new parents may be better off than others.
“For those of us looking at starting a family, it may be appealing to head elsewhere and get the best financial support.
“But any would-be expats should look into their chosen country’s policy closely before making the big move, as there may be specific conditions employees have to meet before they can get maternity or paternity leave.
“It’s worth doing your research before you take the leap.”
For more information visit https://www.instantprint.co.uk/printspiration/be-inspired/best-country-for-working-parents