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Swedes say "no" to shared parental leave

Published torsdag 4 juli 2013 kl 10.45
Photo: Swedish Television

In a new poll, Swedes say "No, thank you" to forced equal sharing of parental leave days.

Sweden is known for its generous parental leave benefits, with parents currently entitled to a total of 13 months of parental leave at the maximum level of compensation. Of those, two are reserved for the parent who takes the least amount of leave, usually the father.

However, the debate in recent years has centred around whether those reserved months should be extended to four months, thus pushing more fathers to stay home with their children.

The poll, in which polling institute Sifo asked 1,272 Swedes if they want the parental leave days to be equally shared by law, or if parents should decide between themselves, only 20 percent answered that they prefer the days to be divided equal. As many as 75 percent say they want parents to decide.

Among the people who oppose an equal division of days, most said they belong to the conservative side in politics, but not even among left-leaning Swedes was there strong support for the state deciding on how parents divide up their days, 61 percent of Left Party supporters said parents should be allowed to decide.

Sweden’s main trade union federation LO recently threw its support behind the idea to split parental leave into three different parts to encourage fathers to stay home with their children more than they do today.

LO wants parental leave split so that women would get one-third, men one-third, and the last third could be used by either.

Paternity days now account for more than a quarter of the parental leave days taken out, according to Swedish Social Insurance Agency figures in 2012.

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