Sweden has long been a progressive place when it comes to its workforce thanks, largely, to a government which is genuinely concerned for the humanity of its population.
At least thats what it seems like to me. Why else would they institute policies which create more flexible work days? Or pass legislation that makes it easier for employees to obtain sabbaticals which allow for the pursuit of outside interests? Sweden’s government strives to create an environment in which employees can actually obtain some semblance of the oft discussed work-life balance, and that’s a very humanitarian objective.
The most recent example of such humanitarianism concerns the family. The Globe and Mail recently reported that thanks to their government, Swedish dads, who already enjoy generous paternity leaves, can now earn cash bonuses for taking full advantage of them. To earn these bonuses, all they have to do is take an equal amount parenting leave as their wives. And if they do, that’s not all they’ll earn.
They’ll also get two additional months of paternal leave.
It’s just the latest in a series of governmental adaptations that began in the 1960s, when the nation first introduced parental leaves with guaranteed job protection. Experts point to those leaves, along with disallowing immigration, as key factors which helped increase the workforce. Between 1070 and 1995 the number of women employed outside the home rose to 80%.
That’s when a problem was discovered. Though women were working outside the home more than ever before, and though there existed extremely generous parental leave policies, women — not men — were still the ones taking the vast majority of these leaves. That meant they were the ones doing the vast majority of childcare and household duties in addition to trying to hold down their jobs.
So in 1995, Sweden combated the problem by giving dads a one month “use it or lose it” paternity leave. In 2000, the leave time was doubled. And now, the bonus has been instituted.
So while our government is spending money on commercials selling dads on fatherhood, Sweden has been spending money directly on the dads themselves. Their long-term focus on the aforementioned issues has yielded positive results. 85% of Swedish dads, do, indeed, take some form of paternity leave. Nearly 20% of dads take as much as Mommy does which means they receive their “equality bonus” of nearly $2,050 US not to mention the two additional months of paternal leave. But perhaps the most telling statistic is this: only 18% of Swedes feel that their jobs make fulfilling family obligations hard.
Which brings me back full circle to the beginning of this post. The Swedish government is genuinely concerned with the humanity of its population. And as a dad, and as one who believes in the power and importance of strong families, I’m very envious of that. Aren’t you?
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