Only one-in-four fathers in Finland take full advantage of paternity leave

Finland offers fathers nine weeks of paternity leave over a two year period, but in practice fathers take a lot less than that.

File picture of baby under a blanket / Credit: iStock

New figures from social insurance agency Kela show that only 25% of fathers took the paternity leave they were entitled to in 2018.

Finland is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world when it comes to giving parents time of after having children, and in recent years efforts have been made to develop paternity leave to balance parental responsibilities and support the father’s relationship with the child.

What paid leave rights to parents have? 

The Finnish family leave system comprises maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and childcare leave, and is designed to support both mothers and fathers.

Finland offers fathers nine weeks of paternity leave until the child turns two years old, during which they are paid 70% of their salary, but on average fathers were on paternity or parental leave for just 36 working days, or six weeks.

Most of the fathers took it at the time of childbirth, while mothers were on maternity leave, but the number of fathers that received parental benefit in 2018 decreased by 2.5% from the previous year, in line with a decrease in Finland’s birth rate.

Finland’s complex but equal childcare policies allow one parent to stay at home and care for small children for up to three years.

After maternity and paternity leave, one of the parents can continue to care for the child at home without fear of losing his or her job, but even though it’s freely divisible by parents, it’s more than often mothers who stay longer with the child.

In 2018, a total of 59,600 fathers in Finland received parental benefit.

Less than a third of all fathers took their entire leave entitlements at the same time as the child’s mother.