Sweden: Parental Leave Entitlement to Be Extended

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By Rick Vollmar

June 26—“To achieve a more gender-equal take-up of parental benefit” and increase “gender equality in the labor market,” the Swedish government has proposed adding a third month to the current parental leave entitlement of two months for each parent under the National Insurance Act.

According to Social Security Minister Annika Standhäll, “the proposal is important because we can see that parents are not sharing parental benefit days equally at present. Women take considerably more days than men, which means spending more time away from the labor market. This can have consequences for women in terms of weaker wage development, fewer career opportunities and even a lower pension as a result of lower lifetime earnings. The proposal would therefore improve gender equality in several ways, in terms of both the situation of women in the labor market and the sharing of unpaid household work. It also strengthens the child's right to both parents.”

‘Use It or Lose It'

To help ensure that the new 30-day benefit does in fact encourage more equal sharing of parental responsibilities, the entitlement cannot be transferred to the mother, meaning that if the father does not take the leave, it is lost. According to the government release, “this will create strong incentives for the parent currently not taking as many days—often the father—to take more parental benefit days. The reserved days within the parental benefit system are themselves an incentive for parents to take parental benefit days as they cannot be transferred to the other parent.”

According to a report from Agence France-Presse published in the Guardian, the minority Social Democratic government plans to introduce legislation to parliament this fall, where it will almost certainly pass given the support of the Left and Liberal Parties. The proposed effective date is Jan. 1, 2016.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The Swedish government release is available at http://www.government.se/articles/2015/06/a-more-equal-parental-insurance-system/, the Agence France-Presse report at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/28/swedish-fathers-paid-paternity-parental-leave.

For more information on Swedish HR law and regulation, see the Sweden primer.

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