Fathers in Sweden to get three months’ paid paternity leave

Sweden is planning to offer new fathers a third month of paid paternity leave, its Government has announced.

The country already offers 16 months of parental leave, which can be taken by either parent, two months of which is reserved specifically for dads.

Under the new proposal, from 2016, mothers and fathers would each be able to take three months’ leave, with the remaining 10 months divided however the parents wished.

Social security minister Annika Strandhäll told Radio Sweden that offering a third month “is something we’ve really looked forward to. We know that this is a key issue towards attaining greater [gender] equality”.

Currently, for the first 390 days, statutory parental benefit per child is set at 80% of the employee’s normal pay, up to a ceiling of SEK 946 per day, approximately £70.

To be entitled to this wage-related benefit, employees must have been in employment for at least one year and meet certain earnings criteria.

Employees who do not qualify for a wage-related benefit are entitled to a basic benefit, set at SEK 180 a day, during the first 390 days.

For the last 90 days of leave, all parents are entitled only to a minimum benefit, also set at SEK 180 per day.

Collective agreements mean that some employers have to top up employees’ parental benefits.

To encourage a more equal take-up of parental leave by men and women, parents receive an “equality bonus” in the form of a tax credit if they share the leave. The amount of the credit depends on the extent to which both parents take more than the 60 days’ leave reserved for them and whether or not they take the leave at different times.

Eurostat shows that 78% of women in Sweden were employed in 2014 – the second highest level in the Europe, behind Iceland (81%). The proportion in the UK stands at 71%.

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