Family Politics

Paternity Leave Seen As Positive

A new study suggests that Swedish companies’ opinion of paternity leave has shifted dramatically over the last decade. While only three percent of the country’s largest companies were positive about paternity leave in the mid-1990s, a full thirty percent expressed support for it in 2006/07.

“We were quite surprised to see such dramatic changes in just twelve years. Changing attitudes is a long process. But on the company level, legislation seems to have worked,” professor and co-author Philip Hwang of Gothenburg University told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Most companies—in both decades’ surveys—maintained a neutral attitude about their employees taking paternity leave. In addition, four percent of those surveyed looked down on paternity leave in 2006/07, down from 30% in the 1990s.

“No one can be completely negative in Sweden, but companies can express their displeasure in many ways,” Hwang said. For example, bosses could let slip such comments as “we’ll see if you have the same responsibilities when you get back” and “some positions in the company can’t be combined with paternity leave.”

Overall, though, paternity leave is viewed far more positively than just a decade earlier, Philip Hwang holds. Employees who pursue paternity leave “experience greater acceptance from their bosses and colleagues, and more men go on paternity leave than ever before.”

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