When Australia passed a parental leave law in 2010, it left the U.S. as the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. Most of the rest of the world has paid maternity leave policies, too; Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea are the only other countries that do not. Many countries give new fathers paid time off as well or allow parents to share paid leave.

New parents in the U.S. are guaranteed their jobs for 12 weeks after the arrival of a new baby, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, but they do not have to be paid during that time and exemptions apply for small companies. Only about 16 percent of employers offer fully paid maternity leave and many families take on significant debt or turn to public assistance around the birth of a child. As America's falling fertility rate raises economic concerns, working families may long to procreate in Sweden, where parents are given 480 paid days per child, to be shared between them and used anytime before the kid turns eight.

Will the U.S. catch up with the rest of the world during President Obama's second term? Advocates are working to get a national law passed while some states are expanding family leave policies, the Atlantic reports. See a new White House petition here. In the meantime, certain companies understand that keeping new parents happy makes more sense than replacing them, which generally costs somewhere between 50 and 200 percent of a worker's salary. When Google lengthened its maternity leave from three months to five and made it fully paid, new-mom attrition fell by half.

This story appears in Issue 38 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, March 1.

Related on HuffPost:

The best states for new dads via "Dads Expect Better." Click here for methodology.

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  • Washington, D.C , 70 Points

    D.C.'s laws include six of seven possible policies to help new fathers and mothers by expanding FMLA access to workers in smaller businesses and those with less time on the job and offering a longer period of FMLA leave. D.C. also enacted the nation's second paid sick leave law.

  • Connecticut, 60 Points

    Connecticut's laws include five of seven possible policies to help new fathers and mothers. Among these policies, Connecticut enacted the nation's first statewide paid sick leave law.

  • New Jersey, 60 Points

    New Jersey created the nation's second family leave insurance program and also provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers with less time on the job prior to needing leave.

  • California, 55 Points

    California created the nation's first family leave insurance law and permits workers to take unpaid family leave to care for the child of a domestic partner. California also guarantees "flexible" use of sick leave to allow workers who earn sick leave through their employers to use that leave to care for an ill child or spouse.

  • Maine, 45 Points

    Maine's family leave law applies to workers in smaller businesses and allows workers to take leave to care for the child of a domestic partner.

  • Oregon, 45 Points

    Oregon's family leave law applies to workers in smaller businesses and allows workers to take leave to care for the child of a domestic partner.

  • Washington, 45 Points

    Washington has taken the first step toward providing paid leave for new parents, and the state's unpaid family leave law allows workers to take leave to care for the child of a domestic partner. Washington also guarantees "flexible" use of sick leave to allow workers who earn sick leave through their employers to use that leave to care for an ill child or spouse.

  • Hawaii, 35 Points

    Hawaii's family leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers with less time on the job.

  • Wisconsin, 35 Points

    Wisconsin's family leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers with less time on the job.

  • Minnesota, 20 Points

    Minnesota's parental leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers in smaller businesses and those with less time on the job.

  • Vermont, 20 Points

    Vermont's family leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers in smaller businesses.

  • Maryland, 15 Points

    Maryland law guarantees "flexible" use of sick leave to allow workers who earn sick leave through their employers to use that leave to care for an ill child or spouse.

  • Rhode Island, 10 Points

    Rhode Island's family leave law provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers with less time on the job.

  • Tennessee, 10 Points

    Tennessee's parental leave law allows new parents to take a longer period of leave than the federal FMLA provides.

  • Kentucky, 10 Points

    Kentucky allows adoptive parents in smaller businesses and with less time on the job to take leave to care for their adopted children.