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PATERNITY LEAVE

Fathers make up third of parental leave

Dads are staying at home with their children more in the summer according to statistics released by the social insurance office (Försäkringskassan).

Fathers make up third of parental leave

In August fathers represented a third of those on parental leave compared with 20 percent in December.

Paternity leave researcher Roger Klinth said the figures suggest that women are still the primary carer in the family with fathers taking control over when to take up their leave.

“Dad is more of a bonus figure and can come in when it suits him. It reflects a deeper pattern of who gets to choose and who get the remainder,” he told the TT news agency.

The numbers are a big increase compared to the early 90s when fathers made up just 10 percent of parents taking up paternity leave. To combat this the social insurance office launched a number of schemes to even out the balance like suggesting prolonging holidays with pappeledigt.

“This encouraged men to do exactly as the patterns are demonstrating,” said Klinth who is a professor of gender studies in Linköping university.

In total men’s overall use of paternity leave has grown to almost a quarter. Much of that is attributed to the mandatory two Dad months which was a key component of balancing out the leave among both parents.

Klinth added that he expects fathers to take up more parental responsibility in the future. He suggested that the leave should be broken up into three parts, one for each parent and one to be used as the family wishes.

“That would be a good compromise and a clear indication that the responsibility is expected to be shared.”

TT/The Local/pr

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BENEFITS

Sickness benefits claims break agency’s budget

Unexpectedly high sickness benefits claims have forced Sweden's social insurance agency to beg the government for an additional 2.5 billion kronor ($368 million) to ensure sick Swedes get paid while home from work.

Sickness benefits claims break agency's budget

“It’s been hard for us to foresee this increase,” Ulla Östman Krantz, an analyst at Sweden’s National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“It’s a serious matter that sickness benefits claims are on the rise again and we don’t really know what lies behind it.”

The agency had been allotted 19 billion kronor in 2012 to cover the costs of sickness benefits claims (sjukpenning), but according to an updated forecast carried out in October, the agency is set to face claims for the year totalling 21.5 billion kronor.

In Sweden, employers are expected to provide sick pay at 80 percent of workers’ salaries for the first two weeks of illness, after an initial qualifying day (karensdag) which is unpaid.

If workers are home due to illness for more than two weeks, the social insurance agency then starts paying the benefits, up to a maximum of 364 days within a 15-month period.

Following the October forecast, the agency, which is charged with delivering a variety of payments associated with Sweden’s elaborate social safety net, has gone to the government to ask for permission to overspend its budget by 2.5 billion kronor.

“We have to continue paying out sickness benefits, even if we really don’t have the money,” said Östman Krantz.

The Social Affairs Ministry has indicated it plans to consider the request quickly and ensure that agency can cover the benefits requests.

There are also plans to increase the agency’s budget for 2013.

TT/The Local/dl

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