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Agency to probe Swedish mothers' sick leave

TT/Rebecca Martin · 18 Oct 2012, 08:19

Published: 18 Oct 2012 08:19 GMT+02:00

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Mothers also take more sick days for themselves than fathers, further widening the gap between men and women.

“The big difference between how many days men and women take off is one of the key health insurance issues,“ said minister for social security Ulf Kristersson to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Previous studies have suggested that men and women take the same amount of leave until they become parents.

According to research from the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, IFAU, mothers of two-year-olds take twice as much leave as the fathers and the difference continues for several years after. In two out of three cases it is the mother who stays home to nurse the kids back to health when they get ill.

To find out why this is the case, the government will next week officially commission a study from the Social Insurance Agency on parents with children born in 2005, scrutinizing factors such as profession, income, socioeconomic status as well as who took most parental leave.

The study will also look at both mothers’ and the children’s health and how common it is for mothers to go off sick themselves after having nursed their infectious children back to health.

That women often function as both family project leaders and logisticians is often discussed in the Swedish press and it appears as if these extra tasks are taking their toll on working mothers.

“We’ve been very good at getting women into the work place but we haven’t managed to increase men’s involvement in family life,“ said Kristersson to DN.

“It seems to be mostly women who are affected when work and family life clashes. And the only thing the women can call in sick for is work.”

Story continues below…

Kristersson fears that women taking more days off for sickness reasons may lead to lower incomes and thereby lower pensions.

Being absent more often also puts the women at risk of getting lower status in the workplace as well as making women in general less attractive on the labour market.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:02 October 18, 2012 by isenhand
-In two out of three cases it is the mother who stays home to nurse the kids back to health when they get ill.

To find out why this is the case-

It's really annoying when reality clashes with ideology!!
09:06 October 18, 2012 by ChocOwl
There are two issues here:

1. women stay home with sick kids more often than men

2. women take more sick days for themselves ie they are sick more often

I don't get which is the bigger problem and is being investigated here. Staying home with a sick kid is not sick leave, it is parental leave.

"Swedish mothers stay home with sick kids more often than fathers, leading to a huge gap in sick leave days."
10:12 October 18, 2012 by StockholmSam
Of course moms take the time off when the kid is sick: normally, the husband makes more money and the family is not willing to forego the husband's greater income for a sick day or two. If women were paid equally, the balance would be more level.

This is all a result of thousands of years of ingrained family culture where the father is seen as the hunter and the mother is seen as the homemaker. Studies show that men value progress at work more than women do and women value progress at home more than men do. It will be difficult to undo what seems to be ingrained in our DNA. And it will continue to be a problem for children to understand the family dynamic and their relationships with their mothers vis-a-vis that with their fathers. And the more we question this situation, the more unsure mothers and fathers will be about their roles in the family.

The point is, once women earn as much as men, and once the man's role in the family is of equal importance as his role in the workplace, then families will have more choice about how to balance their work-family lives.
12:53 October 18, 2012 by robban70226
stays home to nurse the kids ?? most ikely the are more interested going to the mall with the kids and collect the money from the boverment i bet that a infinal amout of those ''sick'' leaves where at home, It is just another of those systems to gt fe´ree money and they know that, nobody actually check if they are valid or nor.. play the game and dont rock the boat...
16:17 October 18, 2012 by entry
The govt. should just issue their marching orders and assign penalties for those not following the rules of the social engineering mandate.
16:58 October 18, 2012 by Puffin
@Robban70226 So you think that women just decide to stay home and lose a chunk of their pay? .... but that they only decide to stay home and lose pay AFTER they have kids? It makes no sense what you says
22:39 October 18, 2012 by kanjo
Oh the Swedish experiment of social and gender equality related changes, where will you end ? I don't know but 50 years from now Sweden may be the most socially confused place in the world. I wish and dearly wish I am wrong but if I am right........some thing needs to be done to save the case. Every thing social difference between a man and a woman almost always calls for criticism.

Equality should be based on some ones effort, choice and abilities not just on the sex. That results related to the sex in research studies often masks the role of other factors in certain phenomena. The intended analysis should establish whether these loving mothers do this out of choice and if it is so then let them be but if there is any coercion then something needs to be done.
22:58 October 20, 2012 by old git
i think they should waste some more time and money to study why there are not more fathers shering their parental role by breast feeding their unisex offspring with no name untillthey are 5 yrs old....
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