February 06, 2020

Finland to give fathers the same parental leave as mothers

Finland to give fathers the same parental leave as mothers

According to a plan revealed by Finland’s female-dominated government, in an effort to encourage fathers to spend more time with their children, both parents will be given the same amount of fully paid parental leave. The paid allowance for dads will increase to almost 7 months, said Social Affairs Minister Anna-Kaisa Pekonen. “The reform will be a major change in attitudes, as it will improve equality between parents and make the lives of diverse families easier,” she added in a statement. In addition to the changes to parental leaves for fathers, a separate pregnancy allowance would enable women to take a month of paid pregnancy leave before the expected date of birth.

Astrid Kunze, an IZA World of Labor author has consulted the evidence and established that parental leave increases the family-work balance. In her article, she notes that: “Parental leave schemes provide policy options to increase maternal employment and improve the work–family balance. International experience, mainly from Europe, shows positive experience with short and medium leave periods. Nevertheless, there are career costs related to parental leave.” The costs she refers to are related to whether female employment rates increase due to parental leave policiies whether the probability of returning to work and career prospects increase for mothers after childbirth.

“Globally, women are still performing worse than men on the “career ladder.” Quite pronounced is the underrepresentation of women in CEO positions throughout most countries. However, it is not just at the top echelon of corporations where women are underrepresented. This phenomenon is also seen in higher- and medium-level management positions as well as top academic positions,” Kunze adds. Since parents will not have to take their leave at the same time, the new policies devised by the Finish government will allow for a family to maintain its income for almost 14 months. Parents will also be able to transfer up to 69 days between each other, and, single parents will also be able to use the paid leave allowance for both parents.

These changes, set to come to fruition at the earliest next year, are some of the main measures Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s centre-left Government want to implement as part of their social reform. Gender equality is very high on the agenda for her coalition Government. “The reform will support all kinds of families and ensure equal leaves for children regardless of the form of the family,” Social Affairs Minister Pekonen said.

Read Astrid Kunze’s article Parental leave and maternal labor supply.