For American parents struggling with our country’s skimpy maternity leave situation, the thought of paid paternity leave seems like a pipe dream. But not in Sweden, which is now considering extending its already most-generous-in-the-world paternity leave policy.
The debate within the Swedish government, highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, is over whether to lengthen the minimum required paternity leave from two to three months. Under the current policy, fathers are able to take up to 240 days of paid leave but must take at least two months to get government benefits. During leave, the government pays 80% of a parent’s salary, with a cap of $65,000, for thirteen months. Compare that with the 12 weeks of unpaid leave that US fathers can take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
While the proposal to extend the minimum required leave was initially rejected, parliament members are rallying in support of the extension. However, critics oppose government involvement in designating the amount of time that fathers must stay home, asserting that this type of decision should be left up to each individual family.
However way you look at it, it seems like new parents in Sweden have it pretty good. While this generosity does not come without a price (public spending was estimated to be $3.7 billion in 2007), the increased support is a testament to the value that Sweden places on the home and family unit.
Dads, did you take paternity leave? Would you take three month if it were offered? Leave a comment.