Parental Leave Policy Essay

1438 words - 6 pages

Balancing work and family is a concern of parents’ around the world. It not only concerns mother’s, it concern’s fathers. It is a societal norm that the mother is the “caregiver” and the father is “breadwinner.” With the feminist movement, things began to change, giving women additional educational and employment opportunities; therefore, millions of women entered the workforce. This shift required a change in attitude, as it implied new roles for men, which promoted shared parental responsibility. Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce parental leave, giving both parents the right to stay home with their children. According to Carlson (2013), “Fundamentally, Sweden’s parental leave insurance policy is not just about providing individual families with resources to make choices about employment and caregiving; it is a social policy with the defined aim of increasing gender equality for the Swedish people” (p. 65). It is asserted that Sweden’s government developed the parental leave policy to address; participation and wage equity in the workforce; and to promote gender equality in care giving (Carlson, 2013, p. 63).
During the 60’s and 70’s Sweden’s industry changed, becoming more competitive in an international economy. The country became concerned about recruiting and retaining a productive workforce. This led to new employment opportunities for women and left the government considering how it could better assist employees’ manage work and family life. With both parents in the workforce providing for the family, the expectation was to share responsibilities for childcare and domestic tasks. Sweden explored changes in government policy that supported equal parenthood. Parental leave was introduced in Sweden in 1974, replacing maternity leave. Sweden provided the most generous leave to fathers’ in the world, parents’ received six months of leave. With restructuring, Swedish parents are currently entitled to 480 days/6 months of leave. Sixty days are for the mother and 60 days for the father. The remaining 360 days are divided between the parents but can be transferred from one parent to the other. The use of the time is flexible, it can be used full-time, part-time, quarter-time and etc. until the child is eight-years-old. Parents must work a minimum of 240 days before the birth of the child to be eligible. The majority of the leave time is paid at a generous rate of 80 per cent of the parents’ normal income. The policy uses gender neutral language and provides benefits to same-sex parents as well as heterosexual parents. In addition, it also provides financial benefits to non-working parents at a lower base rate, asserting that all citizens have equal access.
In the United States, we have the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers workers up to three months of unpaid job protection for the birth of a child or adoption. This is meager in comparison to Sweden’s benefits. The U. S. Department of...

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