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Sweden alters parental leave benefit rules

Sweden alters parental leave benefit rules

Published: 17 Sep 2012 11:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Sep 2012 11:53 GMT+02:00

The government wants to alter Sweden's system of parental leave benefits in an effort to get more immigrant women into the workforce.

Among the changes is a proposal to limit the number of days for which parents can claim benefits after a child's fourth birthday.

In addition, the government wants to raise the benefit levels paid to parents with the lowest or no incomes.

According to social affairs minister Göran Hägglund, the changes are part of an effort by the government to encourage immigrant mothers to enter the job market.

Sweden's current system of parental leave gives parents 480 days of paid leave per child.

"There are many who come to our country and have several children. They then received parental leave benefits for all of the days that most people in Sweden have already used," Hägglund told Sveriges Television (SVT).

The benefits can be claimed at any time up until a child's eighth birthday and include incentives to encourage parents with joint custody to share the days equally.

According to the proposed changes, however, only 20 percent of the days – 95 days – could be used after a child's fourth birthday.

"If you have several children, someone can be at home for several years without having any connection to the job market, so to speak, and that becomes a problem for many who come in late," Hägglund told SVT.

The current system also allows parents to claim benefits for 390 days at the equivalent to 80 percent of salary, up to a ceiling of 910 kronor ($138) per day.

The remaining 90 days, however, are paid out at a basic level of 180 kronor per day.

However, if parents don't have any registered income, either because they are unemployed or because their children were born outside of Sweden, benefits are capped at 180 kronor per day for the entire parental leave period.

Following the proposed changes, however, this minimum parental leave benefit level will be raised to 225 kronor per day, or the equivalent of 6,750 kronor per month, starting in January 1st, 2013.

Last year, 66,000 parents received leave benefits at the basic level, according to SVT.

"We think it's important to raise benefits at that leave; it's more important than raising the ceiling," said Hägglund.

The government also wants to change rules to allow parents to take out parental leave benefits in connection with school vacations up until children turn 12, rather than having benefits expire after a child's eighth birthday.

Sweden's system of parental leave has garnered a great deal of attention abroad for helping women achieve a better work-life balance, and for encouraging fathers to stay home with young children.

A recent report issued by the International Council on Women's Business Leadership, an international advisory body under the wing of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, held up the Swedish model of parental leave as worth of emulation elsewhere.

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Your comments about this article

12:42 September 17, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
Wait... "raise the benefit levels paid to parents with the lowest or no incomes.... to encourage immigrant mothers to enter the job market."

What we have here is a government failure of understanding economic incentives. If you give people more pay for child leave, how will that incentivize them to go into the labor force when they make more money having kids than if they were working a job?
13:07 September 17, 2012 by Abe L
#1 pretty much hit the nail on the head.

A much bigger problem is the ceiling for people who already have jobs and would like to have children. Since you're sacrificing a large amount of your income and will probably not be able to pay your bills, you either don't have children or postpone it to an age where the odds of birth defects are way higher.

It is already very hard these days to get into a social situation where it's a sensible thing to have children. Provided you want them to grow up in a safe and normal environment with maximum success of properly integrating in society at an older age.

These suggested changes do not encourage immigrant women to get jobs, it encourages immigrants to have more children. While the same rules are essentially discouraging the native population from having children in the first place. I think the government should be more concerned with the latter as that will eventually benefit everyone a lot more.
08:06 September 18, 2012 by Puffin
@ Abe L.

What on earth are you talking about? You think that getting 80% of your salary for staying home with your baby is "sacrificing a large amount of your salary"? The amounts of 180/225kr discussed in this article only relate to the sums that are paid to those who have not worked or earned more that 225kr for each day in the 240 days prior to the birth. If you have worked then the max you get is over 900kr/day or a max income of around 27,000kr/month for a whole year. Ovbiously this does not cover whole salary of a high income earner but most people plan ahead. The amounts paid in Sweden are very generous compared to other countries.

@ bourgeoisieboheme

This amount is not just paid to immigrants but to all people in Sweden who have not worked. The problem is that the previous amountof max 5400kr/month was too low to actually live on so for example students who found themselves accidently pregnant found that they got only 2/3 of the student grant level.

The way that they are encouraging work is by limiting the number of days - previously you could arrive as an immigrant with a 5 year old and 6 year old and claim 2x480 days whereas of course most Swedes are forced to take the bulk of their days in year 1 owing to the lack of childcare for children under 1 - now for children over 4 on arrival in Sweden will only get 95 days
10:44 September 20, 2012 by smilingjack
where does the $138 come from. oh thats right - your a state of the USA.
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