We’re all Scandinavian now — the countdown to shared parental leave

Last year, a significant number of Icelandic fathers used their entitlement to three months off work on 80 per cent of their salary. In Denmark, new parents can share a year of paid leave. In Sweden, shared parental leave was first introduced in 1974. Here in the UK, the government has now confirmed the framework for shared parental leave, which comes into force in April 2015. The overall policy is simple. As is often the case, however, the devil will be in the detail (yet to be confirmed) of how it will all actually work in practice.

The government’s recent announcement followed an eight-month consultation process.

The thinking underpinning the scheme was summarised by the deputy prime minister as a need to: ‘challenge the old-fashioned assumption that women will always be the parent that stays at home — many fathers want that option too’. The business minister, Jo Swinson, commented in the same vein: ‘We want to shatter the perception that it is mainly a woman’s role to stay at home and look after the child and a man’s role to be at work. Employers too can gain from a system that allows them to keep talented women in the workforce and have more motivated and productive staff.’ …

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