“Equality bonus” for parents who share parental leave

Social democrats have long been discussing a way to encourage parents to balance their parental leave. According to recent reports in Aftonbladet, it seems a financial bonus might be the solution.

Tomas Eneroth, the chairman for the parliamentary social insurance committee, confirmed that a discussion is taking place within the Social Democratic party.

“I want it to be easier for mothers and fathers to be able to handle parental leave and their economic situation,” said Eneroth.

“An equality bonus can be an instrument just like quotas. I think we should discuss all the possibilities.”

The government is not satisfied with the number of fathers who took their parental leave last year: only 18% of the total entitlement was used. In many cases, the family cannot afford the leave since it is usually the father who makes more money.

The new proposal would mean an increase in compensation from 80% of salary to 90% of salary if the leave is shared equally.

Speaking to Swedish Radio, Social minister Berit Andnor acknowledged that the current system favours those in the higher income groups.

“We know that the parental leave take-up is rather unequal and that those who have the highest incomes divide their parental leave more equally than those parents who have low incomes,” she said.

“This makes sense – if you have a low income every hundred kronor is worth so much more. From that perspective it could be interesting to see if by improving the economic opportunities we were able to increase the take-up of parental leave among fathers.”

Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson is the government’s appointed investigator for parental insurance. According to a recent Sifo survey, 86% of parents think that fathers should go on parental leave. But there is still clear opposition when it comes to legislation.

“I cannot say anything else even if this goes against what I personally think,” said Thorwaldsson to TT.

The same survey also showed that 87% of parents think that it is a decision to be made by the family and not by the government. But there is also a risk that the child ends up in day-care before the age of one if the leave is divided.

Thorwaldsson pointed out that encouraging fathers to take more time off does not necessarily mean that the child will have a longer period of parental care.

“We think another important question is that the father should be on parental leave alone for a certain time,” he said.

“Today we see that much of fathers’ parental leave is taken in connection with holidays and Christmas when the mother is also at home.”

The proposal will be presented in the autumn.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, SR