Finland set to give dads same parental leave as mums 2 months ago

Finland set to give dads same parental leave as mums

Who wants to move to Finland?

Earlier this week, Finland's new government announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave, in a bid to "promote wellbeing and gender equality".

Paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months, according to the new plans, which will work out as 164 days per parent.

The idea is to get fathers to spend more time with their children, and align Finland closer to neighbouring Sweden – with Europe's most generous system of parental leave and 240 days each after a baby's birth.

Health and social affairs minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen told reporters that "a radical reform of family benefits" had begun, with the aim of strengthening the relationship of parents from the start.

Pushing fathers to take their leave

Currently, maternity leave in Finland is 4.2 months, while while fathers are given 2.2 months until the child turns two. On top of that, another six months' parental leave can be shared.

However, on average only one in four fathers take what they are given, and so instead, as part of the new proposal, each parent would receive 6.6 months' leave (164 days under Finland's six-day-week benefit system) and pregnant women would get an additional month's allowance.

Parents would be allowed to transfer 69 days of their quota. Single parents would be allowed to use both allowances.

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Nordic countries leading the way

Overall, the Nordic countries have some of the longest and most equal paretal leave allownaces in Europe.

Speaking to the BBC, Anne Lise Ellingsaeter, a University of Oslo professor who led a Nordic inquiry into parental leave, said that the Nordic countries had been leading the way in giving fathers entitlement that could not be transferred to the mother.

"Norway was the first country in 1993 to have non-transferable leave for fathers," Ellingsaeter said.

"And then Sweden – and later on Denmark – followed suit."

The Norwegian professor points out that by the looks of things, the rest of the EU is also heading that way, with a 2019 directive giving member states three years to provide each parent with at least four months' leave, including two months that can not be transferred.

"Portugal already has a gender-neutral system, with 120 days paid at 100% of salary and another optional 30 days at 80 percent of salary."

A Uncef report from last year praised Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia and Portugal for offering the best family-friendly policies.

The same report ranked the UK, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Switzerland the lowest of 31 "rich countries".