Swedes reject father time

It would appear that Swedish fathers don't know how lucky they are with the generous paternity provisions available to them. According to Sunday's DN, the Social Services Department is about to publish a report claiming that fathers are turning down dozens of days off with their babies and young children under the parental leave system.

“The figures are surprising,” said the department’s head of analysis, Ilija Batljan. “It’s further evidence that dads aren’t playing their part and that the system must be changed.”

Under the Swedish rules, parents have 480 days between them to spend at home with their child during its first 8 years. In 1995, the “dad’s month” was introduced, ear-marking 30 days for the father which couldn’t be transferred to the mother. This was lengthened to 60 days in 2002.

The report looks at how the fathers of children born in 1995 used (or didn’t use) their paternity leave. It calculates that 1 in 6 fathers didn’t take a single one of the 30 days available. And as DN pointed out, that means 15,000 children lost 30 days at home with a parent.

Meanwhile, there was bad news for those child-shy dads hoping to pack their kids off for a cheap holiday at summer camp. Leaders of Stockholm City Council have spotted that their camp programme is in need of a policy review – in other words, price rises.

Charges have been constant at between 20 and 200 crowns a day since 1997, but over the last ten years the number of children from low-income families attending summer camp has fallen by 50%.

You’re liable for the maximum charge if you have a gross family income of a modest 18,000 crowns a month but the council wants both the maximum charge and the threshold raised.

“We have parents who earn unbelievable money paying the same fee as a single-parent accounts assistant,” observed Skarpnäck programme leader, Gunnar Jansson. “18,000 crowns isn’t what I would call a high earner.”

The new charges are expected to be in place by next summer.