Parental Leave around the globe – what we can learn from it?

Alongside the recent launch of the WGEA’s Best Practice Guide – Developing a Leading Practice Parental Leave Policy, Parents At Work introduced a new whitepaper titled Advancing Parental Leave Equality and Introducing Shared Care in Australia: the business case for action.

This whitepaper provides important insights into the current Parental Leave situation into Australia and discusses the changes that are needed to obtain equality for fathers and mothers in parental leave and family-friendly work practices.

Men in Sweden take a quarter of all parental leave.

As part of the whitepaper, we look at parental leave in other countries. Global evidence underscores the effectiveness of well-designed leave policies in levelling the balance of unpaid care work between men and women. Paid leave for fathers has the power to contribute significantly to the redistribution of care work and to transform deeply rooted inequalities between men and women.

A Swiss study in 2014 showed that if parental leave policies are available to each parent, it enables a more equal division of work between women and men by fostering paternal involvement in the care for a child.

A 2015 study found that the Norwegian PPL policy, which provides 46 weeks of parental leave at 100% of the salary with 10 weeks of leave reserved for the co-parent, contributes to a shortening of women’s career interruptions and a more equal division of paid and unpaid work among parents. Australian employers can look to emulate global counterparts in improving parental leave policies and a leading exemplar is Sweden.

Since 2002 the Swedish Government has implemented what is academically regarded as an ‘equality-promoting’ PPL policy.

The key features of the Swedish policy framework include:

  • Working parents are offered 480 days of parental leave per child which can be shared out between mothers and fathers as they see fit, but with each parent entitled to at least three months on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.
  • The Parental Leave Act in Sweden states that you have a right to shorten your hours at work too and only work 75% up until the child is 8 years old.
  • Parents can also take leave in a way that shortens their working day, e.g. half a day, a quarter of a day and even an eighth of a day.
  • You can take the pay and time off until the child is 12 years.
  • After the child is 4 years old you can save and use 20% of the days until the child is 12.
  • Parents receive a ‘caring for a sick child’ benefit. This entitles parents to 120 days per year per child of pay.
  • All organisations with more than 25 employees must adhere to national employment reporting standards. They are required to proactively put in place programs to ensure the antidiscrimination and work / family policy is effectively implemented and illustrate how they have done so.
  • Municipalities have to give you a childcare place within 4 months of you putting your child’s name down.

It has produced positive results. Men in Sweden take nearly a quarter of all parental leave and the government remains committed to continually improving this rate. Dads taking extended parental leave is now thoroughly normal and as a result, women of all socio-economic groups find it easier to get back into work after they have children. There is a more equitable sharing of unpaid work between both parents, contributing to higher wellbeing in Swedish households.

 

To read more, download the Parents At Work whitepaper – Advancing Parental Leave Equality and Introducing Shared Care in Australia: the business case for action.

Download the WGEA Best Practice Employer Guide: Developing a Leading Practice Parental Leave Policy.

If you would like a free phone consultation to discuss how Parents At Work can support your organisation and help you improve best practice status, please email info@parentsatwork.com.au.