New reforms to Finland's family leave legislation entered into force on Monday. The updated law allows parents more flexibility about the division of childcare responsibilities, and no longer separate between maternity and paternity leave.
The law allows parents to choose who takes leave, with a quota of 160 parental leave days allocated to each parent. Of this amount, 63 days can be transferred to the other parent or other caregiver, in a variety of new options (siirryt toiseen palveluun). Meanwhile, single-parent families will receive the full quotas of two parents.
In addition to promoting equality between parents, the reform also aims to enhance equality in the workplace. Women's salary levels and career prospects have been known to be adversely affected by long periods of maternal leave.
The law will begin affecting families, who have children born on 4 September or later. In the case of adoptive families, the new law went into effect for families who greeted a new child on 31 July or later.
Parents who have already started receiving parental allowances earlier cannot adjust them to comply with the new law. The old and new laws will remain in effect concurrently until the end of 2024.
Attempts to reform the law on family leave were already made during Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's (Cen) term, but the effort failed due to internal government disputes in 2018. The Covid pandemic has also delayed the implementation of the reform.
Fathers are less likely to take parental leave in Finland than their Nordic counterparts. According to Finland's Social Insurance Institution (Kela) only 10 percent of fathers took parental leave in 2020.