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Thursday's papers: Unused paternity leave, dashboard cams, and jobs go begging in Lapland

Finnish dads could take more leave, police say dashboard cams are OK, and Lapland needs more workers.

Isä pussaa lastaan poskelle.
Image: Frenk Kaufmann / AOP

Looking at a newly released study, Helsingin Sanomat reports Finnish fathers on average take only 11 percent of the paid paternity leave they are entitled to after the birth of a child. While the figure is close to the same in Denmark, in Norway it is around 20 percent and in Sweden and Iceland nearly 30 percent.

The paper notes that according to Finland's social insurance institution Kela some 70 percent of Finnish fathers do take time off right after the birth of a child, but fewer than half take advantage of full benefits. Around a quarter don't take paternity leave at all.

While noting that attitudes have changed, making it more acceptable for fathers to take a break from their careers to look after their children, HS says that we are still far from an equal division of child care between men and women.

This new study shows that women in all the Nordic countries still spend more time at home and more time with their children than do men.

The study claims that the determining factor in how much paternity leave is taken does not depend so much on personal choice or the employer's attitude, but more on social policy. The more weeks of childcare leave that are specifically reserved for fathers, not split between parents, the more time they take off.

In Finland, where paternity leave levels are low, nine weeks of leave are available specifically for fathers and a further 26 can be taken by either parent. In contrast, in Sweden both the father and mother can each take their own 13 weeks off work and then divide up a further 43 as they see fit.

The study, carried out by the Nordic Council of Ministers, indicates that fathers who take longer paternity leaves are on average happier with their relationships with both their partners and their children, and more satisfied with life in general.

Postal strike and "scab labour"

Several papers, including Tampere's Aamulehti, report that the government's minister in charge of state ownership steering, Sirpa Paatero, has issued a demand for the Posti postal services company to put an end to the use of temporary agency-supplied personnel for the duration of the ongoing postal workers' strike.

In a statement to the STT news agency, Paatero said that state-owned companies, under no circumstances, should use what she described as "scab labour".

"The position of the state as an owner is extremely clear. For this reason I have instructed Posti management, in order to avoid any ambiguity and to promote a settlement, to end the use of temporary workers for the duration of the strike," she said.

Paatero added that she will have talks with Posti directors on Thursday about how her demand is to be met.

Since the start of labour action on Monday, Posti has replaced some striking employees by contracting temporary workers from employment agencies.

Dashboard cam caveat

The Oulu-based Kaleva writes that increasing numbers of dashboard-mounted digital cameras are to be found in cars here in Finland.

"Dashboard cameras have clearly become more common in vehicles, and the police have nothing against this, if they are used correctly," Oulu police inspector Pasi Rissanen told the paper. "They can be a help in determining what has happened during an accident, as generally the parties to an accident have very different views of what happened."

According to Rissanen, nowadays when investigating accidents police patrols always check to see if any of the vehicles involved have dashboard cameras. However, he noted that it is not yet common that a party to an accident immediately offers up a video recording.

However there are some legal issues that need to be considered regarding these devices. Posting recordings online may, in some cases, violate privacy laws.

"Here we move from traffic laws to a different type of legislation. One should consider if it offends someone or alleges guilt. Also, defamation laws may come into play in such cases," says Inspector Rissanen.

Workers for Lapland

Rovaniemi's Lapin Kansa writes that the region of Finnish Lapland is likely to soon see the creation of thousands of new jobs, but it asks the question, where new workers will be found to take up these jobs.

The paper points to the likely opening of two new mines and two new wood processing plants in Lapland within the next few years.

According to Lapin Kansa, the impact of these projects will be dramatically positive for the region's economy, creating perhaps more than 3,000 new jobs and pushing up employment by 5 percent.

This could boost the population by 3 percent, bringing more people to live in Lapland than move away. Regional services should improve. Regional and local governments should take in more tax revenues.

The paper admits that "the big bears have yet to be shot", meaning that none of projects are 100 percent certain, but they all look very likely.

The problem is that even as early as during the construction phase, these projects will need thousands of workers who are not to be found in Lapland. Additionally, some of the mining operations will be in remote areas, far from anywhere, and it will be hard to recruit professionals, especially those with families.

Lapin Kansa concludes that the search for workers will have to be extended abroad, which the paper says will not be easy since competition globally for skilled professionals is fierce. This has already become evident in Lapland's tourism sector, another field with bright prospects for further growth.

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