“Fathers in Uppsala and Västerbottens county take out the most parental leave days in Sweden,” according to a February 4, 2012 article in Uppsala’s newspaper, Uppsala Nya Tidning.
I live in Uppsala and am fascinated by the idea of equal maternity and paternity leave. Since this is just a blog and not a treatise on parent leave, I did just a small amount of research but I thought I might share with you what I learned. I encourage you to find out more on the subject if you’re interested.
An April 14, 2011 article in Svenska Dagbladet noted that…
…more fathers are taking parental leave for more days, according to TCO’s father Index. Västerbotten tops TCO’s List and Uppsala and Jämtland come shortly after. At the bottom is Skåne, Värmland, and Kalmar.
The index is a weighted average of fathers’ share of all the selected parent days and the proportion of males of the parental leave. If parents contributed equally to parental leave, the index value would be 100.
TCO’s paternity index was launched in 2000 and is based on statistics on parental leave from the National Insurance. A completely equal use of parental leave to this year’s growth rate won’t be reached for another 31 years, according to TCO.”
TCO’s paternity index was launched in 2000 and is based on statistics on parental leave from the National Insurance. The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation, TCO) is a national trade union umbrella organization.
An April 15, 2011 article in The Local wrote that ”Young fathers are the least likely to use their parental leave benefits, according to the study, with 35 percent of fathers under 35 not even taking out the month that is reserved for them.”
Parental leave in Sweden allows parents to take a total of 480 days off their jobs (per child). This time can be used up until when the child starts school at age seven. Each parent must take at least 60 days off but the rest of the days can be split between the parents in any way they want.
Businesses must have a job for the parent when they return. (Because I am exploring job opportunities, I can attest that I have seen many jobs advertised that are for a limited period and are only temporarily replacing a person on maternity or paternity leave.) The government pays the worker a high percentage of their previous wages while they are on child leave. Technically, s/he should get the same job back when s/he returns but sometimes the company restructures or something and the worker is offered a different job.
Surprisingly, not all fathers take paternity leave. Sture Nordh, chairman of TCO, said in a statement quoted in The Local. “It does make you wonder when parental leave, bonuses, and time earmarked especially for the father is not enough to convince fathers to stay at home with their kids.”
But what is this bonus, Nordh is referring to? Well, believe it or not, since there weren’t enough fathers tempted to take paid time off from work, the government started offering an incentive to do so. The strange part is that everyone didn’t immediately queue up to get the money. “Swedish parents missed out on over 60 million kronor ($ 9.67 million) last year after almost half of couples entitled to the government’s gender equity bonus (Jämställdhetsbonus) neglected to apply, according to recent figures from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan),” according to The Local.
The Swedish Government’s gender equality policy says, among other things that there should be ”Equal distribution of unpaid care and household work. Women and men shall take the same responsibility for household work and have the same opportunities to give and receive care on equal terms.
A June 2010 article in the New York Times said…
Companies have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and not to penalize fathers at promotion time. Women’s paychecks are benefiting and the shift in fathers’ roles is perceived as playing a part in lower divorce rates and increasing joint custody of children.”
…“Many men no longer want to be identified just by their jobs,” said Bengt Westerberg, who long opposed quotas but as deputy prime minister phased in a first month of paternity leave in 1995. “I always thought if we made it easier for women to work, families would eventually choose a more equal division of parental leave by themselves,” said Westerberg.
…“Society is a mirror of the family,” Mr. Westerberg said. “The only way to achieve equality in society is to achieve equality in the home. Getting fathers to share the parental leave is an essential part of that.”
…Introducing “daddy leave” in 1995 had an immediate impact. No father was forced to stay home, but the family lost one month of subsidies if he did not. Soon more than eight in 10 men took leave. The addition of a second nontransferable father month in 2002 only marginally increased the number of men taking leave, but it more than doubled the amount of time they take.
…Clearly, state money proved an incentive — and a strong argument with reluctant bosses.
…The daddy months have left their mark. A study published by the Swedish Institute of Labor Market Policy Evaluation in March  showed, for instance, that a mother’s future earnings increase on average 7 percent for every month the father takes leave.
This blogger says, Go, Sweden, go!