As part of its official platform leading up to next month’s election, the party proposed giving parents an additional week of paid holiday to be used during their children’s school holidays and teacher in-service days.
The proposal would apply to parents of children between the ages of 4 and 16. All parents would be granted the additional five days, regardless of how many school-aged children they have.
The proposal would cost an estimated 5.4 billion kronor and would affect some 900,000 families.
“Today, there are simply too many parents who feel like they don’t have enough time. They cannot afford to take time off when their children are on holiday or when school is closed,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said while presenting the proposal.
“For parents, there are feelings of inadequacy and stress and for children, there is too much time being left at home alone,” he added.
With five weeks of paid vacation by law, Swedes already have the longest holidays in Europe – and many companies give employees six weeks. It’s also not uncommon for people in Sweden to take off an entire month during the summer school holiday.
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This in addition to Sweden’s famous parental leave system, which grants couples 480 days of parental leave per child, paid at about 80 percent of their salary.
Löfven said he didn’t consider his party’s proposal “a game changer”.
“If anything, it is a ‘life changer’. We want to make it easier for children and parents to have more time for each other,” he said.
The Social Democrats acknowledged that the proposal might not come to fruition because even if the party is given the reins to the government for another term, it is uncertain which party or parties it might need to form a coalition.
The proposed extra week of leave for parents was criticized by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) and the Swedish Federation of Business Owners (Företagarna).
“The biggest problem we face is finding workers. Seventy percent of companies say they are facing a skills shortage,” said Bettina Kashefi, the chief economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. “Expanding parental leave in a country that has one of the most generous parental leave schemes in the Western world seems like a strange prioritization of resources.”
Erik Ageberg of the Swedish Federation of Business Owners agreed, saying that Swedes already have more generous holiday options than workers in most countries.
“I cannot see that we have an urgent need for extra days off,” he said.