Finland Is Doing Away With Distinguishing Between Maternity and Paternity Leave

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As early as fall 2021, Finland will significantly increase its parental leave and do away with dividing it up based on gender.

According to BBC News, Finland’s current policy gives women 4.2 months of maternity leave, new fathers get 2.2 months, and couples can split an additional six months of paid time off. But only about one fourth of dads end up using their entire allotment, and the government is hoping the new rules will promote gender equality when it comes to parenting.

The new system allows each parent 164 days of paid leave, 69 of which can be transferred to the other parent. Since Finland has a 6-day work week, that comes out to about 6.6 months of leave for each parent, regardless of gender. On top of that, expectant mothers will get an extra month of PTO leading up to the birth of their child. Single parents, on the other hand, won’t miss out on half a year of parental leave just because they don’t have a partner—instead, they’ll be entitled to take the full 328 days.

“The model guarantees the child a place at the center of family benefits and promotes well-being and gender equality,” Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health, said in a press release. “Above all, a change towards family-friendliness is needed in workplace attitudes, in society as a whole, and within families. I therefore invite employers to join us in this change and to look for means by which it is genuinely possible to combine working life and family.”

The improved parental leave policy is one of the ways new Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin—the country's youngest, elected in December 2019 at age 34—is hoping to foster a better work-life balance among her constituents. She’s also come out in support of a four-day work week with six-hour days, though the government doesn’t have plans to make that shift just yet.

[h/t BBC News]