Swedish paternity leave system - would it work in the UK?

(16 Posts)
prettybird Thu 14-Aug-08 10:04:46

I think it is an excellent idea. Even if womeen do tend to take most of it, at least it addresses the assumption that it is always the woman who looks after the child.

And most important of all, it means that firms cannot be "put off" emplying women because of the maternity leave that they are entitiled to - because if it were parental leave, they couldn't assume that it would be the man or the woman who would need the time off.

Sunshinetoast Thu 14-Aug-08 09:57:14

I've seen research that shows a correlation between early leave and time spent with children later, but nothing that demonstrates one leading to the other. At the moment the men who take as long a leave as possible are likely to be those who want to be more engaged anyway.

I'm wondering whether if we had a system that encouraged men to take more leave, so that it becomes more of a social norm, those men would become more involved in childcare later because of the experiece of taking leave rather than because of the sort of people they were IYSWIM.

Fennel Thu 14-Aug-08 09:36:09

I think there's research that shows what you're hoping, sunshinetoast. That fathers who spend more time with their small children get more engaged with it all.

There's certainly research that shows that when fathers do more of the day-to-day childcare they start acting more like mothers who do it - in terms of their expectations and what they do with the children and how they organise things.

Yes I have also heard about that high take-up of daddy leave in the hunting month!

Sunshinetoast Wed 13-Aug-08 18:26:37

True but I was hoping that once a father was engaged with his child he would stay engaged. Also after the first child time with subsequent babies will also involve time with older children.

motherinferior Wed 13-Aug-08 17:54:58

The thing is, tiny babies are a different kettle of fish from older children. I do think that having most of a month off with DD1 meant that DP was a lot more baby-confident than he would have been otherwise (and he deliberately did masses of baby stuff at this stage for that reason). But at that stage they just need breastfeeding and nappy changing, don't they. Not new shoes and clean clothes and arranging swimming lessons and cooking endless bloody meals and so on and so forth...

<wonders guiltily what tea to provide for Inferiorettes>

Sunshinetoast Wed 13-Aug-08 17:51:54

I guess I was wondering if having the leave would make fathers engage more with the domestic tedium. Spending time day in day out with a child does make it harder to ignore the washing, cooking, cleaning, tidying that comes with them.

Although I was told by a Swedish friend that take up of the daddy month is highest in the hunting season..... Don't know if that is true or just a rumour!

motherinferior Wed 13-Aug-08 17:33:00

I do think a longer leave is definitely a start, but I do think that also has to be put in the context of all the other stuff that children bring with them. They need meals. And hoovering. And clean clothes. All sorts of domestic tedium.

Sunshinetoast Wed 13-Aug-08 17:19:04

MI, do you think if men took a 'daddy month' (or two, which Sweden now seems to offer) they would be more likely to take on childcare later? I've seen research that shows men who take longer leave also do more care, but I'm not sure if this is because the sort of men who take the leave also want to do the care.

I ask because I agree loads of men don't take the opportunities that are on offer and I'm wondering how we change that. I know that the men I know who took long leave (normally paternity leave plus annual leave) all seemed much more confident even with tiny babies than those that didn't.

Fennel Wed 13-Aug-08 16:12:09

I would welcome it. Higher taxes notwithstanding.

But you should maybe start by asking whether it actually works in Sweden. My knowledge of the statistics is a bit ropey but I do know that even when the right to parental leave is shared, women take up far more of it in Sweden. That's why they introduced the daddy quota, a month or so, which had to be taken by men or the paid leave be forfeited. And even then, many men don't take their paid month, according to studies I've heard about. Particularly when it's a 2nd or 3rd child, men apparently argue that they can't take that time off work.

So even if you change the system, getting men to change their behaviour on parenting and paid work is pretty uphill work it seems.

motherinferior Wed 13-Aug-08 16:08:15

It'll only be feasible if gender inequality is addressed in a wider context.

'For all those who moan about dads not taking responsibility for their children, ask yourself this: does our system actually provide realistic opportunities for dads to actually take those responsibilities on?'

I'd say it provides far more opportunities than a lot of men take up, frankly. If you look at the stats on men and housework - an inevitable corollary of childcare - you'll see women taking on far more than half. Although it's worse in other countries, for sure.

Tom, that's my point. I don't think a lot of people here would stomach that sort of taxation. People want it all without having to give up anything to get it.

Tom Wed 13-Aug-08 15:53:16

The Swedes have around 30% tax up to an average income and then 50% above that. Yep - it's big, but it's a reflection of their society's values. They want better parental leave, childcare and health and they're prepared to pay for it.

Sunshinetoast Tue 12-Aug-08 15:40:44

I was interested in the bit about sharing leave leading to lower divorce rates. Seeing how much resentment there is on here from women whose partners don't seem to have the first clue about how hard it is to look after kids day in day out I can understand how it might make a difference.

I think it would be great, but I believe Sweden has some of the highest tax rates in Europe to support this. I'm not sure how that would go down.

Sunshinetoast Tue 12-Aug-08 12:15:36

I think it would be great if we could have that level of choice here in the UK. From what I can tell it would give longer leave than the UK system for mothers who wanted a traditional mum takes leave and dad goes back to work too.

It would need to be properly paid leave to work here. Unpaid parental leave, or paternity leave at just over £100 a week like we have at the moment is impossible for many families to afford to take.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 12-Aug-08 11:04:28

Over on Dad Info they've got a comment/blog about the Swedish paternity leave system, which is more of a parental leave system. What do you think? Is this a model the UK should be copying/adapting?

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