Not only has the Finnish government made childcare paid leave longer, it has established that part of the leave may be taken by any one of the parents. The objective of this flexibility is to give families space to organize themselves according to their characteristics and needs.
In contrast, a new law in Spain establishes that both the mother and the father must have the same number of paid leave days. By this measure, the government seeks to create equal job opportunities for men and women. Up to now, a Spanish woman had the right to 16 weeks of paid leave after giving birth, while the father had 15 days. This made companies more apt to hire men than women. The new law establishes that both parents have the same amount of time – and it is not transferrable from one parent to the other. The father may choose to take advantage of his leave or not, but he cannot transfer his days to the mother if they both wish to.
The Finnish system, which allows for the parents to decide how to manage their leave days, does not follow a mathematical equality, but instead takes into account the actual – naturally unequal – psychobiological contribution of mothers and fathers to parenting: mothers gestate, labor and give birth, breastfeed, experience a profound brain transformation, take many months to adjust and re-adjust and are the baby´s main affective reference.
This implies an enormous energy investment, on physical, emotional and mental levels, as well as a priceless contribution to society which, in all justice and equity, should be recognized and supported by that same-self society. Countries should revise their policies, lest they die by crushing their own future.
Leave in Finland is as follows:
Before birth: one month of leave until the due date.
After birth: 95 mandatory days + 69 days that may be transferred to the father.
Total: 23.4 weeks + 4 weeks before birth = 27.4 weeks (almost 10 transferable)
After birth: 95 mandatory days + 69 days that may be transferred to the mother.
Total: 23.4 weeks (almost 10 transferable)
Enjoy the whole leave: 47 weeks + 4 weeks before birth.