Parental leave bonus to be scrapped in 2017

The Local Sweden
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Parental leave bonus to be scrapped in 2017
A Swedish father on paternity leave. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT

Couples in Sweden will no longer be entitled to a gender equality bonus for spliting parental leave, if the government's autumn budget gets passed next month.


Sweden already offers a generous 16-month parental leave which can be shared out between mothers and fathers, although two months of that must be set aside for one parent, usually the father.
A scheme launched by the previous centre-right government in 2008 introduced a 'gender equal' bonus for couples seeking to split their time off more evenly. It initially needed to be applied for but eventually got paid out automatically, giving parents an additional income of up to 13,500 kronor ($1,629) per child, depending on how much time they each take off.
But on Wednesday, Sweden's Social Democrat-Green government said it was planning to scrap the initiative, arguing that it currently cost the state a vast amount of money, but failed to encourage more co-parenting.
"Parents do not weigh up the bonus as a factor when deciding how to share out parental leave. It's not the determining factor," Minister for Social Secirity Annika Strandhäll told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
She said that the initiative was currently costing the Swedish state one million kronor a year.
"That's a lot of money, while it has no effect," she added.
Strandhäll said that the government instead wanted to plough its resources into its efforts to introduce a third month of paid parental leave reserved for fathers, announced earlier this year.

Swedish dads should not face any problems at work if they take two months off. Photo: Henrik Junge/TT
Sweden initially introduced a month reserved specifically for each parent under a "use it or lose it" system in 1995, and a second month in 2002.
Under the new proposal, both mothers and fathers would be required to each take three months off work or lose the leave. The remaining ten months could still be divided however the parents wished, however there would be no 'gender equal' bonus offered as an incentive.
Parents would still receive 80 percent of their salary while on leave, capped at a salary ceiling of around 40,000 kronor per month.
The government's move to scrap the 'gender equal' bonus for parents contrasts with the approach favoured by the opposition centre-right Alliance parties and the Sweden Democrats who last year backed a rival budget that would have seen it rise to 19,00 kronor.
Women currently claim around some 75 percent of parental leave in Sweden, compared to 99.5 percent when it was introduced in 1974.
Some 80 percent of children in Sweden have two working parents, however only around 40 percent of women work full-time compared to some 75 percent of men, according to 2013 statistics.
The coalition budget looks set to be passed without any hassle, after Sweden's mainstream parties struck the December Agreement deal last year, to avoid unexpected opposition to future government financial plans, following a political crisis last autumn.


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