Sweden: Government plans to reform the parental leave system

The Swedish government has announced plans to reform the parental leave system, proposing to introduce a third 'daddy month'.

In the current system, parental leave is paid for approximately 16 months (480 days) and two months are reserved for each parent while the remaining 420 days can be split as the parents wish. The main purpose of the earmarked months is to incentivise parents to share the leave more equally. The non-transferrable months have therefore become known as 'daddy months'. However, women are still taking three out of four days of parental leave. With the support of the Left Party and the Liberal People’s Party, the government is now proposing the introduction of a third 'daddy month' (in Swedish). The bill is to be presented to the parliament in the autumn and is expected to pass.

The issue of parental leave has been a hot topic in Sweden for a long time and opinions are generally split. The final report on challenges for gender equality in working life (in Swedish) from the Delegation for Gender Equality in Working Life proposed reforms that were more far-reaching than the government's proposal, such as splitting the parental leave into three parts. A three-part system would mean that out of 420 days with parental insurance, each parent would receive 210 days, 150 of which are ‘earmarked’ and cannot be transferred to one’s partner. Furthermore, parents’ right to reduce their regular working time would be limited to 12.5% per parent. The purpose of this would be to highlight the shared responsibility for children and more evenly distribute any absence from work. The delegation also suggested abolishing the gender equality bonus that is given to parents that share the parental leave equally, as well as the bonus received by parents who have their second child shortly after their first. Moreover, the delegation wants to see the social partners initiating discussions on working time. This, the delegation states, is crucial if the time spent in employment is to become more gender equal.

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