Should dads have the same parental leave as mums? In February 2020, Finland’s government announced plans to extend the same amount of leave to both parents. In general, the Nordic countries (and Sweden in particular) have some of the most generous parental leave rules in the world.
In 2019, the EU’s Work-Life Balance Directive entered force, and will now be transposed into national law by all EU Member States. The Directive requires Member States to ensure that “two out of the four months of parental leave are non-transferable between parents and compensated at a level that is determined by the Member State”.
Supporters of the change argue that paternity leave can help improve gender equality more generally. Studies have shown that men are more likely to share domestic work if they take parental leave. However, some have pointed out that even in Sweden, men are still much more likely to transfer their parental leave to women and head back to work early than vice-versa.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Dave, who believes that parental leave should be shared between both parents, as it is in Sweden.
Neither my organisation nor I personally want to force anyone to take parental leave. Social changes take time, but they don’t come from nowhere; they usually need a legal basis. Today it is mostly women who interrupt their careers or give up their jobs to look after children and relatives in need of care. There should be no compulsion for men to do the same.
However, they should be supported by laws, incentives and framework conditions at their workplace. Men are also often discriminated against at work, for example if they want to take parental leave. But we see positive changes. For example, EU Commissioner Helena Dalli adopted a strategy for more equal opportunities in March that creates exactly the same incentives for men to take family-related breaks. There are more and more rights for fathers, but studies indicate that these rights are often not exercised.
Above all, men seem to fear financial losses. Our demand is therefore that parental leave must be adequately compensated financially. As long as this is not the case, women will continue to take the time off, as they earn less on average. Ultimately, a couple will be more inclined to forego the lower income. This means that they don’t really have a choice and hardly anything will change.
Should fathers get the same parental leave as mothers? Would more generous parental leave help improve gender equality? Should dads have the same parental leave as mums? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!