Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is working to highlight how vastly different paid family leave is around the world. In an image posted to his official Facebook page, the former presidential candidate showed how much the United States “lags behind” other countries, including Canada, Norway and Germany.

The image illustrates how different countries’ family leave policies are implemented. For example, Canada has 35 weeks parental leave at 55 percent salary, according to the image. Germany has one year paid leave at 67 percent salary. The U.S., however, has zero days paid family leave. The Facebook post reads:

The reality is that when it comes to supporting real family values like paid leave, the United States lags behind every major country on earth, and virtually all poor countries as well. Out of 188 countries, the U.S and Papa New Guinea are the only two that don’t provide some form of paid leave. Or, to put that another way: the citizens of every other major industrialized country get more protection for their families than we do here in the United States.

Snopes reports that the numbers referenced in the image reference more of a maximum time period rather than a set standard.

Bernie Sanders

Real Family Values, which include paid family leave, were an important staple in Sanders’ presidential campaign. He focused on paid family leave, paid sick time and paid vacations for every worker “just like they do in every other wealthy country on the planet.” According to the “Issues” page:

When it comes to supporting real family values, the United States lags behind virtually every major country on earth. We are the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick leave or paid vacation time.

Or, to put that another way: Workers and families in every other major industrialized country in the world get a better deal than we do here in the United States.


In my view, every worker in America should be guaranteed at least twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave. That’s why I am a proud cosponsor of the FAMILY Act, introduced by Senator Gillibrand, which does just that. Under this measure, every employee would receive twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave: to take care of a baby, to help a family member who has been diagnosed with cancer or another serious medical condition, or to care for themselves if they become seriously ill.

His campaign website also included a petition to support the 12 weeks of paid family leave.

The following outlines each country’s federally-funded program:

1. Canada

EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of benefits. A person recognized as the child’s legal parent on the provincial or territorial birth certificate may be eligible to receive parental benefits.

For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2017, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $51,300. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $543 per week.

Their website points out, however, that the 35 weeks is the absolute maximum time period to receive the benefits. Certain criteria must be met before receiving them as well, much like in any other paid family leave program.

2. Norway

When you apply for parental benefit, you must choose between 100 percent or 80 percent degree of coverage The total benefit period for parental benefit in the case of a birth, is 49 weeks at 100 percent coverage, and 59 weeks at 80 percent coverage. The parents must choose the same degree of coverage.

3. Germany

  • Parental allowance is roughly two-thirds of your previous income – at least 300 up to a maximum of 1,800 Euro.
  • Parental allowance is paid for twelve months.

While the image Sanders shared was accurate, it showed the maximum time period for receiving benefits in most cases. The U.S. does not mandate any paid leave for new parents. Only three states currently offer paid family leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. President Donald Trump rolled out his paid family leave plan last year. He has yet to make any formal attempt to advance his policy.

Author and social entrepreneur Jessica Shortall spoke about the important of paid family leave in the U.S. in 2015. In her TED Talk, she discussed “the economic, physical and psychological costs of our approach to working mothers and their babies” when millions of women are forced to return to work just weeks after giving birth. She argues that to secure our economic future, paid leave must be provided to working parents.

See how people are talking about paid family leave on Twitter:

What are your thoughts on the image Bernie Sanders shared about paid family leave? Do you think the United States should do more? Sound off in the comments section below!