Parents fail to cash in on gender equity bonus

Parents fail to cash in on gender equity bonus
Swedish parents missed out on over 60 million kronor ($ 9.67 million) last year after almost half of couples entitled to the government's gender equity bonus (Jämställdhetsbonus) neglected to apply, according to recent figures from the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).

“Last year, parents said the bonus system was confusing. They felt they hadn’t been informed and that it didn’t apply to them” Niklas Löfgren, the Social Insurance Agency’s spokesperson on family finance, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Since 2008, couples who share their parental leave equally have been rewarded with a bonus of up to 13,500 kronor. This bonus is a tax reduction aimed at enticing fathers to stay at home longer.

However, the Social Insurance Agency has evaluated the equity bonus, and found that it hasn’t been effective in increasing parental leave equality.

In fact, fathers take out the same amount of paternity leave now as they did before the bonus was introduced.

Also, only 25,000 of the 44,000 parents deemed eligible for the bonus by the Social Insurance Agency sent in their application forms.

This means that parents missed out on a total of roughly 60-70 million kronor.

Löfgren explained that the agency has put a lot of effort into informing about the gender-equity bonus over the last year, hoping to de-mystify it.

“We hoped that there would be more applicants this year, now that we’ve put quite a bit of money into informing about this. But unfortunately only half applied,” he said to SR.

The government has suggested to change the system, making bonus payments automatic starting next year.

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