Through its newly announced parental leave reform, Finland hopes to encourage better work-life balance and greater gender equality.
Last September, Ireland implemented new legislation around parental leave, extending the term of unpaid leave for new parents and raising the age of a child for which parental leave can apply to 12 years old.
Just a couple of weeks before this, the EU launched its new directive for work-life balance, a major aspect of which was its goal of encouraging greater equality in the amount of parental leave taken by men and women.
Now, Finland has announced plans for its new family leave reform, with hopes of “improving wellbeing of families and increasing gender equality”. The Finnish government has stated that the reform will benefit “all kinds of families and ensure equal leaves for children, regardless of the form of the family”.
Finland’s family leave
Parents in Finland will see an increase in the current allowance from 11 and a half months to more than 14 months.
Both parents will receive an equal quota of 164 days of allowance – adding up to more than six months – and they will be able to transfer up to 69 days from their own allowance to the other parent.
Single parents will also be supported by the reform, receiving access to the allowance quotas of two parents, while an initiative provisionally referred to as pregnancy allowance will give pregnant parents a separate quota of one month before the parental leave begins.
‘Investment in the future’
The legislation is a cross-departmental government effort, with the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health preparing amendments around benefits, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment preparing amendments around employment contracts, and the Ministry of Education and Culture looking at matters of early childhood education and care.
Finland’s minister for social affairs and health, Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, said: “The family leave reform is the government’s investment in the future of children and the wellbeing of families. The reform will be a major change in attitudes, as it will improve equality between parents and make the lives of diverse families easier.
“Sharing parent responsibilities in everyday life will become easier, and the relationship between both parents and the child will be strengthened from the early childhood.”
The government said that the new reform will take effect in 2021 at the earliest.