A new family law is now in effect in Finland that redefines the length of parental leave and the amount or duration of child care benefits. For both parents. For the first time, both mothers and fathers are entitled to parental leave of the same length.  

Both parents receive childcare allowance for 160 days each, which adds up to almost a year. In addition, there is a maternity allowance. Taken together, parents can therefore stay at home with their child for about 14 months. One parent can transfer up to 63 reference days to the other.

Minister of Social Affairs Hanna Sarkkinen hopes that this reform will improve the position of women in the labour market. And, in addition, also give fathers more time with their babies.

“The reform is an investment in families with children that takes into account the different types of families. It will help us on the road to a more socially sustainable society,” Sarkkinen said last year, explaining the plan.

Previously, maternity leave consisted of a maternity allowance that could be drawn for 105 days—from the calculated date of birth. Fathers were entitled to paternity benefit for 54 days, while childcare allowance could be claimed by one parent or both parents jointly for 158 days.

9 out of 10 men take parental leave in Sweden

The overall short duration of parental leave—and therefore egalitarian sharing between both parents—is common in Scandinavian countries.

Fathers caring for babies and young children are strongly encouraged by the parental leave regulations in Sweden: 480 days (i.e., about 68 weeks) parents in Sweden can stay at home with their children, but the time must be divided: At least 60 days must be taken by the second parent if the full length is to be used. Otherwise, the period of leave will be reduced. In job interviews and promotions for employees, the question of family planning has become irrelevant because it affects everyone.

As a result, around 90 percent of fathers in Sweden take maternity leave—regardless of their occupation or income level. By comparison, in Austria the figure is just under 20 percent, still a minority.

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