Beginning in 2016, Sweden will give new fathers a third month of required paid parental leave. The country already has one of the most generous parental leave policies, it currently allows parents to take 16 months of government-paid time off to care for newborns that must be split between both parents. The law requires fathers to take at least two of those months off. That two months has now been extended to three months.
The third month “is something we’ve really looked forward to. We know that this is a key issue towards attaining greater [gender] equality,” social security minister Annika Strandhäll said.
And though Sweden might seem like a feminist paradise AFP reports that some see the policy as a financial strain:
Despite great strides in gender equality, Swedish men still earn more than women in general, and as a result men take more of an economic hit by staying home with their children.
Forcing parents to use it or lose it, meaning mothers cannot get the months reserved for fathers, the policy therefore encourages dads to stay home.
But that seems to miss the point, the purpose of paternal leave isn’t simply to relieve what’s traditionally a mother’s burden, it’s also to bond with children and form empathy with caretakers. And it’s not as though Sweden throws families to the proverbial financial wolves, once a child reaches their first birthday, they’re guaranteed a place in daycare for a very low fee.
Sweden is starting to look like a very nice place to live.
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