Closing The Gap

Finland to give men and women almost 7 months of paid parental leave each

Byba Sepit | Getty

Finland has announced plans to offer men and women equal paid parental leave, as well as an extension of the total family allowance from 11.5 months to just over 14 months.

The Finnish government, which was only appointed in December, said Wednesday that both parents would get a paid leave allowance of 164 days, or around 6.6 months.

Pregnant women will get an additional month on top of this quota and single parents will be able to use the total allowance offered to two parents.

Parents can also keep 69 days of their allowance days for later use.

Finland's government said the changes will come into force in 2021 at the earliest and that the policy was currently being developed by an official working group.

The government didn't specify how much of its extended leave would be fully paid.

Finland's minister of social affairs and health, Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, said the reform was an "investment in the future of families and the wellbeing of families," according to a translation of the government statement.

She said it would mark a "big change in attitudes," and would strengthen the relationship both parents have with their child early on in life.

However, Pekonen recognized the change "will not alone solve the everyday challenges of families with small children," adding that a shift towards "family-friendly attitudes in the workplace" was also needed.

Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin said on a panel at the World Economic Forum last month that she split parental leave equally with her husband, both taking six months out of work to take care of their daughter.

Marin, the youngest prime minister in the world, admitted at the time Finland needed to reform its parental leave policy, explaining that "too few fathers were spending time with their children while they were young."

Sweden has the most generous paid leave allowance in Europe for both sexes, offering parents a total quota of 480 days, or 240 days each.

Estonia has the best maternity leave, offering mothers 85 weeks out of work fully paid, which works out at around 1.5 years, as seen in a 2019 Unicef report.

In the same report, Unicef highlighted that the United States was the only OECD country without nationwide paid maternity or paternity leave.

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