Finland to offer new fathers as much paid leave as mothers

HELSINKI: Finland’s woman-led center-left government plans to nearly double the length of paternity leave to give new fathers the same amount of paid time off work as new mothers, it announced on Wednesday.

Paid paternity leave will be extended to nearly seven months, in line with maternity leave. Around half can be given to the other parent.

Pregnant women are also entitled to a month of pregnancy leave before the expected date of birth.

Minister of Health and Social Affairs Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said the aim of the “radical reform” was both to improve gender equality and to boost a declining birth rate.

“This enables better equality between parents and diversity among families,” she said. She noted that other countries such as Sweden and Iceland had seen increases in their birth rates after offering more leave for fathers.

Finland’s governing coalition is made up of five parties, all led by women, of whom four are under 35 years old. Increasing gender equality has been one of the government’s aims since it took office in December.