Finland Will Now Offer New Parents 7 Months Of Paid Family Leave

by Cassandra Stone
parental leave in finland: mother touching baby face
Stefka Pavlova/Getty

This equals out to 164 days of paid time off for each parent

In news that will make you want to book the next Cheapo Air flight to Northern Europe, Finland has finalized its family leave policy to include seven months off for new parents. That’s 164 days of paid time off for each parent, with single parents getting the full 328 days. The new policy will go into effect in 2021.

Finland’s new family leave policy offers the “daily allowance days” to each parent, and each parent is also allowed to transfer up to 69 of their own days to the other parent if they so desire. Currently, the country allows mothers about four months of paid maternity leave and new fathers get about two months — still leagues beyond what the United States offers, which is zero paid time off.

The new policy is more inclusive all around, as it eliminates gender-specific time allotments and says its “suitable for all families,” according to the news release.

“The model guarantees the child a place at the center of family benefits and promotes wellbeing and gender equality,” Aino-Kaisa Pekonen, minister of social affairs and health, says in a statement.

The news of Finland’s new policy comes just a few months after the election of its new prime minister, Sanna Marin. At 34 years old, Marin was, at the time of her election, the world’s youngest sitting prime minister. Marin heads all of Finland’s five governing parties — and each of them have female leaders, and almost all are under the age of 35.

Women can be elected to government bodies and make excellent governing decisions? WHO KNEW! Not the U.S., that’s who. Sigh.

The family leave reform is the Finnish government’s way of saying that the investment in the future of children and the wellbeing of families is of the utmost value for the country as a whole. The intention with the reform is that it will lead to a major change in attitudes, as it will improve equality between parents and make the lives of diverse families easier. The reform will support all kinds of families and ensure equal leaves for children regardless of the form of the family.

“Sharing parent responsibilities in everyday life will become easier, and the relationship between both parents and the child will be strengthened from early childhood,” the release states. “The livelihood of families with small children will also improve,” Pekonen says.

Sweden currently leads the world in family leave, giving a total of 480 days to a couple or 240 days each. Last year, UNICEF analyzed family leave policies around the world among 31 “rich” countries, including the U.S. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, and Portugal were considered at that time to offer the best “family-friendly” policies, including national paid leave.

The U.S., of course, was the only country in the entire analysis that had no national paid leave for mothers and fathers. In December 2019, the U.S. passed a measure that offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. It’s still the only industrialized nation in the world with zero nationwide laws regarding paid parental leave, though.

There’s a reason why Finland has the happiest people and the U.S., uh, does not. Hopefully, someday the importance of parents and children will be acknowledged on a policy-driven basis.