Nordic countries rank top for working parents

Three Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, have been ranked as the best countries for a parental work-life balance according to research by Remote.

Its survey assessed conditions in 20 countries and analysed factors that impact working parents including parental leave, annual leave entitlement, childcare costs and access to healthcare.

The study found that Norway performed very well and achieved the top spot for parental work-life balance, followed by Sweden and Denmark. The three countries have high expenditure on family benefits and education, which contributed to their high ranking.

Eight countries in the top 10 are located in Europe; after the Nordic nations, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany all performed well due to having a mix of comparatively strong parental and maternity leave packages, reasonable childcare costs, high overall happiness levels and typically government-funded health systems.

Poland was ranked at number six for its low costs of living and low childcare costs.

The UK ranked at number 11, due in part to its particularly high childcare costs. The average monthly cost of full-time childcare in the UK for one child is £1,239.97.

The United States is the lowest-ranking country resulting from a lack of statutory leave, high childcare costs and a complex healthcare system that often penalises low-income families.

Barbara Matthews, chief people officer at Remote, said: “There is a critical need for employers and decision-makers to recognise the rights of parents in the workplace. Working parents make up a large proportion of the active global workforce, with it being thought they account for 34.52% of the workforce in English-speaking countries. Therefore, quality parental support packages are crucial for attracting and maintaining top talent.

“We view parental life-work balance to be not only about implementing fair policies but creating a comfortable culture at work that is inclusive of all parental situations. It’s important to understand legal obligations are not the same as going above and beyond. The concerns of working parents and those who plan to have children are very real, with it being the responsibility of businesses to understand the issues weighing on the minds of their teams to reduce burnout and increase productivity as well as attract and retain staff.”