Global Working Parents Report

The most inclusive parental leave policies around the world

Today’s working parents face a unique set of pressures

Working parents around the world continue to navigate the complexities of balancing professional responsibilities with parenting. Amid return-to-office mandates, rising inflation, and the increasing cost of living globally, the financial and emotional burdens of childcare have become more pressing than ever.

In response, Remote conducted a global survey of 13,850 working parents across 13 countries — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Korea — to understand the unique challenges they face at work and how companies around the world can better support their needs. All respondents worked white collar "desk jobs and have at least one child under five years old. Each country’s respondents were evenly split between fully remote, hybrid and in-office working arrangements.


Global parental leave policy findings

Our findings reveal significant variations in how working arrangements — fully remote, hybrid, or fully in-office — impact finances, career decisions, and overall work-life balance across different countries. It also details areas where employers and communities can make the biggest impact in giving working parents the best possible opportunity to succeed in the workplace. 

Explore detailed insights by country

Dive deeper into specific country insights to understand the most valuable benefits and the biggest costs for working parents in each location. Whether you're in Seoul or Sydney, find out how working conditions in your region compare to global trends and what steps can be taken to support working parents more effectively.

Australia working parents analysis 

Remote’s survey of 1,009 Australian working parents reveals the financial and mental health burden that comes with returning to work and paying for childcare, especially for women. In light of these challenges, workers are demanding better flexibility from their employers, with 81% of working parents considering leaving their jobs if they had to work more days in the office.

With 70% of respondents agreeing that mothers take a bigger role in bearing childcare responsibilities within their families, this added feeling contributes to significant feelings of guilt and anxiety, with 92% of women reporting such emotions upon returning to work, compared to 77% of men. Furthermore, 55% of men reported encouraging their partner to quit or consider quitting their job due to a lack of affordable childcare options during working hours, compared to 39% of women. This financial strain often leads women to make significant sacrifices: 61% have taken a pay cut or reduced their working hours because of inadequate childcare options, compared to 47% of men.

Additional findings include: 

  • Financial burdens of childcare: 69% of working parents said their childcare costs would increase if their working arrangements changed, such as having more days in the office. Nearly 70% of parents say they have already reduced spending in other areas to keep up with childcare costs. In the survey, 57% said they have stayed in a job that makes them unhappy but pays more, to afford childcare.

  • Work-Life Balance: Second to pay (53%), work-life balance is the second most important consideration when working parents are looking for a new job (47%). Around three quarters (74%) of working parents say they’ve felt guilty or anxious when asking for time off for childcare needs.

The survey also highlights the impact of return-to-office policies, with 52% of working parents saying they feel that their company’s return-to-work policy post-pandemic was unfair. If required to work more days in the office, 81% of respondents said they would consider leaving their jobs.

Australia employment guide

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Belgium working parents analysis 

Belgian working parents are increasingly looking for flexible work arrangements, yet in our survey, they said companies are slow to accommodate these needs. As many firms in Belgium seek new talent to expand their workforce, the lack of support for remote work remains a factor. 

According to Remote’s survey of 617 Belgian working parents, 71% would consider leaving their job if remote work options became stricter. This highlights the pressing need for more adaptable work policies to help parents balance their professional and family responsibilities.

The survey sheds light on the financial and logistical burdens faced by Belgian parents. On average, they spend around 700 euros per week on childcare costs, which include daycare, transportation, and babysitting. This figure is notably higher than in other countries, such as nearby France, where the average is 492 euros per week. 

Key findings include:

  • Impact of return-to-office policies: 73% of parents have considered quitting their job or encouraged their partner to do so due to the pressures of managing childcare during working hours.

  • Negative workplace feedback: Over two-thirds (77%) of parents reported receiving negative feedback or being reprimanded for taking unplanned time off to care for a sick child or due to daycare closures.

  • Seeking balance: 82% of parents are considering working fewer hours to get the balance between family time, the costs of childcare and work right. 

These findings highlight the urgent need for improved work-life balance solutions to support Belgian working parents. Only 26% of respondents are fully satisfied with their current childcare arrangements, underscoring the demand for more flexible work options.

Belgium employment guide

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Finland working parents analysis 

With Finnish businesses facing a chronic skilled labour shortage, better support for working parents could be an answer. Yet Remote’s survey of 601 Finnish parents reveals feelings of pressure by the demands of balancing work and family life. 

A majority of parents (80%) said they’ve felt guilty or anxious when requesting time off for childcare needs. In many cases it may be warranted, with 55% saying they have felt discriminated against or think they have been overlooked for promotions or opportunities at work because they are a working parent.

Additional key findings include:

  • Increased costs and pay cuts: 75% of parents have taken pay cuts or reduced hours due to lack of childcare options. An equal percentage feel that more office days would increase their costs. 

  • Workplace discrimination: 55% of parents feel discriminated against or overlooked for promotions, and 74% have received negative feedback for taking unplanned time off to care for their children.

  • Negative impact of return-to-office policies: 77% of parents said their employers implemented post-COVID return-to-office policies that have impacted them negatively, with over 70% considering quitting their jobs if required to work more office days.

Despite these challenges, 87% of respondents acknowledge their employer's support for flexible work, which is crucial for managing childcare needs. However, the survey underscores the necessity for better laws and regulations to support working parents, with 82% calling for legislative improvements.

Finland employment guide

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France working parents analysis 

Despite ongoing government efforts to support working parents, many in France continue to struggle with high childcare costs and inflexible work policies. Remote’s survey of 1,002 working moms and dads highlighted the need for changes to better help them balance professional responsibilities with family life.

The financial burden of childcare is a major issue facing French parents, who spend an average of €493 per week on related costs, such as daycare, transportation, and babysitting. This expense forces many families to make difficult financial decisions, impacting their overall quality of life. In the survey, 74% of parents reported cutting back on essential expenses like healthcare, groceries, and utilities to afford childcare. Additionally, 80% indicated that increased in-office work would further raise their childcare costs.

Additional key findings include:

  • The impact of workplace policies on family life: 71% of parents say they have experienced negative impacts due to mandatory return-to-office policies. Nearly as many parents (70.5%) say they have encouraged their partner to quit their job to manage childcare, and 64.5% have considered job resignation themselves.

  • Need for flexibility and discrimination concerns: 73% of parents have submitted flexible working requests to their employers. Additionally, more than half of the parents say they have felt discriminated against or overlooked for promotions due to their parental status.  

The survey also reveals that 86% of respondents believe more comprehensive laws and regulations are necessary to support working parents, and 81% feel that the government should do more to fund childcare institutions and provide subsidised options. 

France employment guide

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Germany working parents analysis 

Despite ongoing discussions and political actions about the role of part-time and flexible work models to address the country’s skills shortage, the reality for many German parents reveals a different story. Remote’s survey of 1,507 German parents highlights the need for greater support.

‘Fake flexibility’ persists

The survey indicates that while 84% of respondents feel their employers support flexible work, allowing them to arrange childcare around their working day, a deeper look reveals significant gaps:

  • 71% of German parents report experiencing 'fake flexibility' from employers, including false promises of remote work and flexible hours.

  • 79% felt overlooked for promotions or opportunities at work because they are working parents.

  • 76% experienced negative impacts from return-to-office policies, with 92% considering job changes if forced to return to the office more often.

  • 76% felt guilty or anxious when requesting time off for childcare needs.

  • 69% have been reprimanded or received negative feedback for taking unplanned time off to care for a sick child or due to daycare closures.

Additionally, 70% of respondents have encouraged their partner to quit or reduce hours due to childcare challenges, and 76% have taken a pay cut or reduced working hours themselves for the same reason.

Flexibility is now parents’ top priority

Working parents shared that when choosing a workplace, flexibility is now number one in their list of top considerations:

  • Flexible working hours (35%)

  • Job security (28%)

  • Pay (28%)

  • Childcare services/stipend (26.4%)

  • Remote working policies (26.1%)

Government and policy needs

Despite recent efforts guaranteeing childcare after 12 months, many parents still find it challenging to secure suitable childcare. In the survey 70% of parents said they have encouraged their partner to quit their job, 76% have taken a pay cut or reduced their working hours, and 78% believe the government needs to do more to support childcare facilities with better provisions and more places. Additionally, 83% wish for laws that better enable flexible work models for working parents.

Germany employment guide

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Netherlands working parents analysis 


While many companies in the Netherlands are eagerly searching for new talent and expanding their workforce, Remote’s survey of 1,007 showed that working parents face challenges participating in the workforce. In the survey over 71% of Dutch parents would consider leaving their job if remote working options were to become stricter, and nearly 19% encountered resistance when requesting flexible working arrangements. In our survey, 76% of working parents said they are contemplating working fewer hours to better balance family time, childcare costs, and work responsibilities.

As in many other countries, Dutch parents said the financial burden of childcare is a major issue they face, with spending reaching an average of €723 per week. This is significantly higher compared to other countries, such as France, where the average weekly cost is €492. 

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • Impact of return-to-office policies: 65% of working parents considered quitting their job or encouraged their partner to do so due to increased pressure from return-to-office policies.

  • Negative workplace feedback: 68% of parents reported receiving negative feedback or being reprimanded for taking unplanned time off to care for a sick child or due to daycare closures.

Only 28% of respondents are fully satisfied with their current childcare arrangements, with the majority seeking improvements or significant changes. Flexible working arrangements are the second most important factor after pay when choosing a job, with men prioritising job security and commute length, while women place a higher importance on flexibility.

Netherlands employment guide

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Spain working parents analysis 

Remote’s survey of 1,002 Spanish working parents underscores how flexible working hours and remote work policies have become significant job priorities alongside compensation. This transformation reflects broader changes in work-life balance models, with flexibility becoming a non-negotiable option for many.

When choosing a job, 42.42% of Spanish working parents prioritise flexible working hours, closely followed by pay at 41.82%, and remote working policies at 25.75%. Flexibility in working hours has become more important than remote working itself, indicating a strong preference for adaptable schedules over mere location-based flexibility.

Flexible work is so crucial that 49.47% of respondents would consider leaving their job if the number of required in-office days increased. Notably, 19.41% would contemplate resigning even without having another job secured, underscoring the importance of flexibility in their professional lives.

Additional findings include: 

  • Support for flexible work: A significant 80.24% of Spanish workers report that their companies fully support flexible working, providing the necessary assistance to organise childcare around their workday. Among those with flexible work patterns, 27.45% state that it helps them manage household responsibilities better, while 27.15% feel they can be better parents by being present when their children need them. 

  • Acceptance of flexible work proposals: More than 68% of respondents have proposed flexible work arrangements to their employers, but only 43% say these arrangements have been accepted.  

While current regulations aim to support parents, 84.23% of respondents believe that there should be better laws and regulations on flexible work at the national level. Furthermore, 74.15% indicate that while childcare support exists, it remains difficult to access. 

Spain employment guide

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Sweden working parents analysis 

As return-to-office mandates increase and calls for greater flexibility grow louder, Swedish working parents face significant challenges in balancing work and family life. Remote’s survey of  602 Swedish parents highlights the importance of flexible working conditions and the impact of inflexibility on the everyday lives of working parents.

In the survey, 80% of parents said they have accepted a pay cut or reduced their working hours to better balance childcare with work, and 83% have considered reducing their hours to 80%. Despite Sweden's relatively low childcare costs, non-flexible work policies and negative employer attitudes significantly impact parents' mental health and career progression.

Additional key findings:

  • Mental health impact: 80.56% feel guilty or anxious when requesting time off for childcare needs, and 79.40% have been reprimanded for taking unplanned time off to care for a sick child.

  • Experiences of discrimination: 71.43% of parents feel discriminated against or overlooked for promotions due to their parental status.

  • Return-to-office policies: 80% report that return-to-office mandates have negatively impacted them, with nearly 80% (79.40%) claiming they were offered "fake flexibility" or false promises of remote work and flex-time.

Nearly 70% of respondents believed their current setup could improve with small adjustments, with flexible working as a top priority for many parents. The survey also reveals that 82.39% of parents think better laws and regulations are needed to support flexible working, and 78.57% have submitted flexible working requests, with most being accepted.

In other countries like Finland, France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US, generous parental leave policies rank high among job search priorities—between 15% to 26% of respondents consider these options most important when job hunting. However, in Sweden, this option receives zero percent preference.

Sweden employment guide

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Singapore working parents analysis 

Remote’s survey of 1,000 working parents in Singapore reveals the impact of flexible work arrangements on family planning and work-life balance. With Singapore’s historically low birth rate becoming a national issue, 89.7% of working parents say that flexible working arrangements would increase their chances of having additional children. As the Government prepares to implement the Tripartite Guidelines for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) by the end of the year, the role of employers in supporting working parents and boosting the birth rate is more crucial than ever. Key findings include:

Support for flexible work

With nearly 9 in 10 parents saying they would consider having more children if provided with more flexible work arrangements, the survey underscores the key role that employers play in the employees’ family planning decisions. It also found that 81% of working parents agree that flexible, remote, and hybrid work arrangements are most helpful for balancing career and parental responsibilities. 

Challenges in implementation

While 56.4% of respondents said their employers accepted their flexible working arrangement requests, 82.1% feel they were offered fake flexibility. This indicates a disconnect between policy and practice, highlighting the need for better implementation of flexible work policies.

Impact on job decisions

The financial and emotional burdens of childcare have led 82.8% of respondents to consider quitting their jobs due to a lack of affordable childcare options during working hours. Additionally, 87.3% considered leaving their jobs when faced with more days in the office, emphasising the importance of flexible work in retaining talent.


Singapore employment guide

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United Kingdom working parents analysis 

As the UK grapples with an ever-growing skills gap, working parents are a vital, yet underutilised, resource. Yet Remote’s survey of 1,501 moms and dads highlights that despite government initiatives, UK working parents continue to face obstacles fully participating in the workforce. 

More than two-thirds (70%) of working parents in the UK said they have quit or are considering quitting their job due to lack of affordable childcare options. Financial pressures are a major concern, with more than half of working parents reporting they pay over £1600 per month for childcare, 25% more than the average rent in England. 

Additional key findings from the survey include:

  • Job dissatisfaction and sacrifices: 73% have taken a pay cut or reduced hours due to unaffordable childcare, and 70% have stayed in an unhappy job to afford childcare.

  • Negative workplace experiences: 63% of working parents say they have been reprimanded or received negative feedback at work due to taking unplanned time off for their child being sick. Three quarters of respondents felt guilty or anxious for taking time off for childcare needs, with working mothers (78%) more likely to feel guilty about unplanned childcare related absences than working fathers (68%).  

Despite the new Flexible Work Act coming into force in April, false promises of flexible and remote work are also impacting working parents. In the survey, 65% of working parents said they have been offered ‘fake flexibility’ at work, leading to unexpected or unplanned childcare costs. Return to Office mandates are particularly concerning, with 73% of working parents fearing that their childcare costs would go up further if they were required to work more days in the office.

Flexible working hours are the top priority for working parents when considering a job, with 37% prioritising flexible work, 35% prioritising pay, and 25% prioritising job security.

UK employment guide

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United States working parents analysis 

In the United States, the allure of work flexibility through remote and hybrid models promises a new era of balance for working parents. Yet Remote’s survey of 2,001 working parents across the country tells a different story. Amid rising inflation and escalating living costs, the realities of managing careers — even ones with some level of flexibility — alongside young children are proving to be anything but simple.

The Promises vs. realities of hybrid work

The data shows that hybrid work, celebrated for its potential to offer the perfect blend of remote and office-based environments, often falls short of expectations, with hybrid workers actually encountering some of the toughest challenges. 

  • Hybrid workers report the highest levels of dissatisfaction with work-life balance at 34%, higher than in-office (31%) and remote workers (29%).

  • Nearly two in five hybrid workers (39.8%) say they  have had to reduce their working hours or accept pay cuts due to the soaring costs of childcare during their working hours, compared to 31.3% of remote and 30.6% of in-office working parents.

  • 21.8% of hybrid workers want to work from home more frequently to better manage childcare but find their schedules too rigid, nearly on par with the 23.2% of fully in-office workers who face similar constraints.


The financial and emotional toll of work ‘flexibility’

With nearly one in three families spending more than $900 weekly on childcare during work hours, parents are being pushed to make difficult decisions to cope with the financial and emotional strains of balancing work and family life. 

  • 40.2% of hybrid and 38.7% of remote working parents have reported reducing spending on essential items, including groceries, healthcare visits, and utilities, in order to afford childcare during their working hours. In-office workers follow slightly behind at 36.4%.

  • 38% of remote and 37% of hybrid working parents say they have encouraged their partners to quit their jobs to manage childcare, a sentiment less common among in-office workers (28.8%).

  • Despite promises of flexibility, a staggering 77.9% of remote and 71.8% of hybrid working parents report missing key family moments, such as tucking their children into bed, at least three days a week on average due to work obligations, outranking the 68.8% of in-office working parents who report the same.

United States employment guide

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Conclusion

The data gathered from this extensive survey underscores the need for tailored, flexible work policies that consider the diverse backgrounds and needs of working parents globally. By highlighting the commonalities and differences across various countries, Remote aims to foster dialogue and inspire policy changes that make the workplace a more inclusive and supportive environment for parents worldwide.