Dads still not taking ‘fair share’ of parental leave

Sweden might have led the world in giving fathers the chance to take time off to spend with their kids, but dads are still failing to take the opportunity, according to new statistics from the Swedish Social Insurance Administration (Försäkringskassan).

The state-run administration has sent letters to 440,000 fathers and 51,000 mothers telling them that they have not taken out the leave to which they are entitled. These parents, who have children born between 2000 and 2005, have on average 122 days each left to take out, based on an assumption that mothers and fathers share the 480 days of leave equally.

Parents were sent the letters if they had taken out more than 25 days but less than 180 days.

The parents of each child born in Sweden are entitled to 480 days parental leave. While sixty days are reserved for each parent, the rest of the time can in theory be divided as individuals see fit. The Swedish Social Insurance Administration thinks differently however, saying it wants fathers and mothers to spend equal amounts of time with their children.

This is the seventh year running that the administration has sent out reminders to recalcitrant parents. Officials say that the letters usually succeed in persuading mothers and fathers to take more time off to spend with their children.