Fathers in Norway are taking advantage of state welfare measures that help them play a bigger role in their children’s lives. Six out of 10 now take six weeks or more paid leave during their child’s first year, while the number of days men take off work varies with what kind of job they have.
Fathers in the financial sector top the ranking, reports newspaper Dagbladet. Real estate agents score lowest, spending only 33 days at home.
Norway’s generous parental leave allowances let the majority of parents stay home with their children for eight to 12 months with little or no loss of income. Officially, the parental leave (foreldrepermisjon) can be divided freely between mothers and fathers after the first six weeks for the mother and an earmarked 10 weeks for the father. Increasing the time that men actually spend with their young offspring is seen as a way to boost equality between the sexes.
A recent survey shows that father’s job influences the amount of time he spends at home with baby, writes Dagbladet. In finance and insurance and in the hotel and restaurant trade, 77 and 76 per cent repectively claim parental leave benefits from the state.
Only half of fathers working as travel agents, security and investigation employees and event organizers do so, whereas a mere 49 per cent of men working in corporate communications use their allotted quota.
Fathers working in the financial sector “seem to have grasped what a valuable opportunity it is to be able to spend so much time with their small children,” one gender researcher told Dagbladet. “Parental leave is a good thing for both mothers and fathers.”
Parental leave is a much debated political issue. The Conservatives decided at their recent annual party conference to work to remove the quota specifically set aside for fathers. This was meant to allow families to choose for themselves what suited them best.
Others have suggested an opposite approach, suggesting the Icelandic model which earmarks a third of the period of paid leave to each of the parents and leaves it up to them to decide who gets the remaining third.