Government Fails To Agree On Family Leave Reform

Any reforms will be left to the next session of parliament to try and tackle.

File picture from 2017 of coalition party leaders (L-R) Petteri Orpo (NCP); Juha Sipilä (Centre); Sampo Terho (Blue) / Credit: Government of Finland Flickr

The government has failed to find common ground on plans to reform parental leave laws.

The heads of the three coalition parties Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), Finance Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) and Europe Minister Sampo Terho (Blue) met on Monday  evening at the PM’s Helsinki resident Kesäranta to try and work out a plan they could all agree on.

However, later all three Tweeted the same message “there will be no family leave reform during this legislature session. Unfortunately the common model was not found”.

The talks were sparked last Friday when Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko (Centre) said that any reforms would have to wait till the next parliament session due to lack of funds.

But after the NCP and Blue leaders expressed disapproval, discussions were revived. The Blues wanted to see father’s leave extended to 100 days. NCP said the issue of reform was too important to just let it fail.

Tonight, Orppo told reporters that he was really disappointed no common ground could be found. Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP) says the issue of reform will be a key election theme for their party at the next general election.

Opposition Party Reaction

As might be expected, opposition parties have criticised the government’s lack of agreement to tackle this topic.

Social Democrat Parliamentary Group Chair Antti Lindtman called it “a big failure for the whole government, and a sad decision where the biggest losers are children and equality”.

Green Alliance Chairman Touko Aalto said it was “a defeat for equality and employment”; while the Swedish People’s Party’s Anna-Maja Henriksson called it “very weak”.