Finland Just Gave Fathers 7 Months of Paid Family Leave

Dads are parents too!

Feb 15, 2020

(Anna Kraynova / Shutterstock.com)

In most countries maternity leave is a given. New moms need time to recover from childbirth and to bond with their little ones. The benefits of happier and healthier mothers and babies far outweigh the costs.

But what about fathers?

Paternity leave is far from universal and in those countries that offer it, the duration is usually shorter. But, shouldn't new dads have a chance to bond with their newborns? If you live in Finland, the answer is a resounding yes.

Finland's new government that is female led has just announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave according to the BBC. In a push to allow fathers to spend more time with their children, the paid allowance will increase to a combined 14 months or 164 days per parent.

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin, 34, has made gender equality a priority for the new government and has frequently said that fathers are not spending enough time with their children when they are young.

Health and social affairs minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen told BBC that "a radical reform of family benefits" had begun, with the goal of strengthening the relationship of both parents from the beginning and to boost the country's declining birthrate.

Finland's current system gives mothers 4.2 months of leave and fathers 2.2 months and must be taken before the child turns two. There is an additional six months of parental leave that can be shared. This is generous but not gender equal which is what the government wants to achieve and very few fathers actually take their leave.

Now, the new plan only talks about parental leave. Each parent will receive 6.6 months of leave and pregnant women will get an additional month for their wellbeing. Parents will be allowed to transfer 69 days to their partner if desired. Single parents will now be able to use both benefits.

The government has estimated that the new program will cost an additional €100m ($110m). but it is not the most generous parental leave program in the region.

According to a report from Child Care Canada, in Finland’s neighbor Sweden, both parents receive parental leave for 240 days each at 80 percent pay.

Norway was the first of the Scandinavian countries to have non-transferable parental rights and fathers in Denmark get two-weeks paid paternity leave after the birth of their baby and both parents can share an additional 32 weeks between them.

Parents in Iceland get to choose how they want to divide nine months of parental leave. Both moms and dads get three months each and the last three months is spit.

The EU is also heading towards nontransferable paternity leave, according to the BBC, with a 2019 directive that gives member states three years to provide each parent with at least four months leave; two months will be non-transferable.

These are all positive steps that will allow fathers to be more involved with their children. After all, fathers can be nurturers too and children need to learn gender neutrality young.

Addressing the 50th annual World Economic Forum in December 2019, Marin called on all countries to do more to ensure that women are treated fairly saying, "gender equality doesn't happen by itself."

But, building gender equality in the world is not an easy thing to do. The rest of the world can follow these Scandinavian countries as they lead the way.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.