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A more equal parental insurance system

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The Government is proposing a third 'reserved' month of parental benefit. The aim of the proposal is to achieve a more gender-equal take-up of parental benefit, which strengthens the right of children to both their parents. The proposal is also aimed at increasing gender equality in the labour market.

At present, two months of parental benefit are reserved for each parent. It is proposed that the new system apply from 1 January 2016 for children born or adopted from that date.

Annika Strandhäll, minister for social security: – The proposal is important because we can see that parents are not sharing parental benefit days equally at present. Women take considerably more days than men, which means spending more time away from the labour market. This can have consequences for women in terms of weaker wage development, fewer career opportunities and even a lower pension as a result of lower lifetime earnings. The proposal would therefore improve gender equality in several ways, in terms of both the situation of women in the labour market and the sharing of unpaid household work. It also strengthens the child’s right to both parents.

 Parents not taking parental benefit in a gender-equal way

The current take-up of parental benefit is not gender-equal. Women take a considerably larger proportion of parental benefit than men. This can result in the division of housework and provision of care being established early on, meaning that women shoulder a greater burden of this work and also remain away from the labour market for longer as a result of long periods of parental leave, part-time work and a higher take-up of temporary parental benefit (to care for a sick child).

Gender equality in the labour market

Absence from the labour market can have an impact on the labour market situation of women, resulting in both worse wage development and fewer career opportunities compared with men. It can also mean lower pensions. On the other hand, men can also come across obstacles in the labour market stopping them from taking longer periods of parental leave or working part-time.

Parental leave and how it is divided up between men and women - measured as take-up of parental benefit days - therefore has a significant impact on how gender equality in the labour market develops. Against this background, there is a need to take measures that enable the care of a child and housework to be divided in a more gender-equal way between parents.

Additional 30 days to be reserved for each parent

The proposal involves reserving an additional 30 days for each parent that can be paid as parental benefit at the sickness benefit level. This means that 180 of the total 390 days of parental benefit at sickness benefit level will not be transferable to the other parent. This will create strong incentives for the parent currently not taking as many days - often the father - to take more parental benefit days. The reserved days within the parental benefit system are themselves an incentive for parents to take parental benefit days as they cannot be transferred to the other parent.

Timetable and implementation

It is proposed that the new regulations enter into force on 1 January 2016. The current regulations will still apply to parental benefit and the gender equality bonus for children born before that date.

Parental insurance

Parental benefit supports opportunities for both parents to combine work or studies with parenthood. Parental benefit in connection with childbirth is the benefit available to parents when they are not working in order to be at home when the children are very young.

A parent who needs to stay home from work to look after a sick child under the age of 12 (in some cases 16) is entitled to temporary parental benefit. Temporary parental benefit may also be paid in certain other cases, for example when the child's regular caregiver is ill.

The father of a newborn baby is entitled to 10 days of temporary parental benefit, known as 'father days', in connection with the child's birth. If the child is adopted, the parents are entitled to five days each.

A woman with a physically demanding job who cannot carry out her duties towards the end of her pregnancy may receive pregnancy benefit. In addition, a woman who is not allowed to perform her ordinary work due to risks in the working environment may receive pregnancy benefit.