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.

To get a response, we spoke to Pascual Martinez, an advocate for COFACE Families Europe, who are committed to a better work-life balance and support fathers taking parental leave. What would he say?

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!

Image Credits: Bigstock © Anna Kraynova; Portrait: Martinez © coface

14 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Did European fathers shout “inequality, we want time off too…”? Was this born out of a true need for a change or were there other motives that ‘experts’ thought best’?

  2. avatar

    i could think of a million reasons why they should and very few why not.

  3. avatar

    How are small companies going to pay for this? Nice ideal but are citizens willing to pay more tax to pay for it?

    • avatar

      more?? That’s a joke… Some people already pay 40% of their salary… And what about council tax… 130 a month? Some people much more? And then they shut public lights at 23h? What about nurses returning home? Not getting home safe do they? And who cares? So, more taxes? They should use them better or be arrested!

    • avatar

      things cost money and there is no such thing as a magic money tree. The problem is loads of people think things should change and more people should work less etc but don’t know how to pay for it. Maybe less money in foreign aid, maybe less benefits to lazy scroungers or in the UK stop paying money to the eu?

    • avatar

      Just work a little longer…? We are all living longer anyway, and staying healthy longer too. I would happily postpone retirement for a year or five for time of with my newborn baby.

  4. avatar

    Let’s ask the kids, and we have a random sample here : YESSSSSSSS

  5. avatar

    No, they shouldn’t if it cuts maternity leave. According to WHO the best method for feeding babies is breastfeeding. Exclusively for first 6 months and with solids up to around 2 years time. Many women stop breastfeeding because they have to quickly come back to work and even if they try to use pump it’s quite challenging sometimes both for mothers and babies. Second thing for the first year it’s mother who is centre of the universe for kid and nothing will change it because it is instinct of all mammals. Third thing I don’t know how long it took to some mums to regenerate after pregnancy but from my experience it is at least 6 months and I am not talking only about physical state but also about their mental one. Of course everyone is different. Now let’s imagine it is paternal leave without cutting off maternal leave. Will families afford it? Will companies who are hiring parents afford it? Maybe it would be good idea to set that if kids are getting sick or need to go to doctor or anywhere else it is father who gets time off.

  6. avatar

    Let’s be serious, although it sound exciting to have couple of days off, but what for?
    Pregnancy is the most difficult and painful thing after dying from burning alive, there is physical and psycho pain here, the baby itself has huge and magnificent cure effects toward the mother, however the father has to do nothing but mostly stress out, that’s it
    Let’s face it, the things that woman face during pregnancy can’t be described and it doesn’t make the case to say :” i feel you” cause you simply can’t,
    For that legitimate reason woman do need couple of days off
    On the other hand, father feel pleasure working extra hour cause he will start to think about tons of things he want to bring to the new born, those things need to be paid obviously ====> extra work need for him
    Let’s put something in middle and reward the worker by giving them less crucial work, less tasks and less working hour but with the same rate as before just for couple of days, so he can love hos job a bit, l9ve his company and overall love having kids which Europe most needs

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