Did you know the United States is the only industrialized country that still doesn’t federally mandate paid leave for new parents? (I know, I was shocked too!) Among 41 countries surveyed, it was found that Estonia offers the greatest paid parental leave at 86 weeks, followed by Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, and Lithuania. Something most of the countries offering paid parental leave have in common is that mothers generally get more time off than fathers. In fact, in most countries around the world, paternity leave is not mandated at all.
Finland is one country that will soon offer equal parental leave for both mothers and fathers. Originally, Finland offered 4.2 months of paid leave for mothers and 2.2 months for fathers until the child’s second birthday. In addition to the latter, the Government currently allows parents to share an additional six months of leave. The Government’s new plan, however, is to amend the parental leave law, allowing both moms and dads 164 days, or 6.6 months, off each.
In addition to the new equal parental leave policy, Finland will also allow parents to transfer 69 days of their paid leave to the other parent if they wish.
What about single parents? They are eligible to use both parental leave quotas.
The country hopes that by changing the mandate, they can encourage gender equality and promote wellbeing.
According to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, in previous years, only one in four fathers were taking the full paternity leave that they were entitled to. Marin found this to be a concern, indicating that fathers needed to spend more time with their children during their earlier years and seeing it as a sign that the country still had a way to go in terms of gender quality.
The mandate will officially go into effect as of 2021.
I personally think the new gender-equal parental leave policy is the right move, especially in this day and age. According to Zero to Three, the newest generation of fathers are more involved in their children’s lives than fathers of previous generations. Many fathers these days don’t want their children to view them as the second parent; they want an equal role in parenting as the mother. Perhaps with Finland soon allowing the same leave for both parents, fathers will feel more equally involved. In addition, they will have the opportunity to engage in more early bonding with their infant, allowing for a stronger bond with their children as they grow up.