Fathers to get parental leave in Finland as mothers

Finland is making plans to give all parents the same parental leave, in a push to get fathers to spend more time with their children.

Paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months, which works out as 164 days per parent.

Neighbouring Sweden has Europe’s most generous system of parental leave with 240 days each after a baby’s birth.

Finland says it wants to “promote wellbeing and gender equality”.

The BBC reports that Health and social affairs minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen told reporters that a radical reform of family benefits had begun, with the aim of strengthening the relationship of parents from the start.

Under the current system in Finland, maternity leave is 4.2 months, while fathers are given 2.2 months until the child turns two. On top of that, another six months’ parental leave can be shared.

However, on average only one in four fathers take what they are given. The current plans now talk only of parental leave.

Each parent would receive 6.6 months’ leave (164 days under Finland’s six-day-week benefit system) and pregnant women would get an additional month’s allowance.

Parents would be allowed to transfer 69 days of their quota. Single parents would be allowed to use both allowances.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said last month that her country still had some way to go to achieve gender equality, and complained that too few fathers were spending time with their children when they were young.

Anne Lise Ellingsaeter, a University of Oslo professor who led a Nordic inquiry into parental leave, told the BBC that the Nordic countries had been leading the way on giving fathers entitlement that could not be transferred to the mother.

The EU is also heading that way, with a 2019 directive giving member states three years to provide each parent with at least four months’ leave, including two months that can not be transferred.

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