Sweden Widens Its Lead As Most Generous Nation For Parental Leave

Indrani Sengupta
Sweden has all beat when it comes to father's day. You get him a watch; Sweden gets them all longer paid leave to spend with their newborns.

Your father's day gift can't hold a candle to Sweden's.

Already the most generous nation in the world with regard to paid parental leave, Sweden is now pushing for greater parental rights.

A Swedish government proposal to extend paid paternity leave to three months has every chance of passing in Parliament. The intention is to give rise to more equalized parental leave, to emphasize the fact that childcare is a shared responsibility, and not limited to one gender (i.e. women).  

Swedish fathers

Sweden already offers two months of paid paternity leave, a move introduced 13 years ago. This policy has been dearly celebrated among Swedish fathers.

This policy is accompanied by a “gender equality bonus” which rewards fathers who take more time off to spend with their newborns and wives, up until the 2 month mark. At the moment, only 12% of Swedish couples take full advantage of this policy, suggesting that the notion of woman as caregiver, man as breadwinner is still strong in an otherwise progressive culture.

Swedish Fathers to Get An Extra Month of Paid Leave

In contrast to Sweden, which offers 420 days of paid maternity leave, The United States offers new mothers only 12 weeks of protected leave following childbirth, leave which is not mandated to be paid. As a result, many women are compelled to accept a substantial dip in their income in order to care for their newborns. Many argue that this lack perpetuates a harsh choice faced by American women: to be mothers or to be professionals. Note that men rarely have to make this choice. 

Sweden moves to extend paid paternity leave for dads

Of the 38 countries represented in a 2013 Pew study, the United States was the only country to not offer mandatory paid leave for new mothers. 

Read more: Why Women Need A "Mommy's Salary"