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Old “family leave”: allowing mothers to take it; new “family leave”: forcing fathers to take it

August 12, 2015

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum: Father and baby boy in living room watching TV

What we need: government-mandated emo dads

“What if the only people who took advantage of an unlimited leave policy were women? What if those women were mommy-tracked away from the most intense, remunerative parts of a business, toward more marginal, lower-paying positions? The truth is that this already happens in many businesses. Unlimited does not mean ‘consequence-free,’ after all.”
So, actually, we can’t really leave it up to the employees to figure out what’s best for them and theirs. Because then, human nature and basic economics would take over. Mothers would crave to be home with their babies and take lots of time off–while fathers would be, well fathers, figuring out that their kids would benefit most if Dad pushed ahead on the job, maybe swung a promotion, and came home with more dollars for Junior’s college fund.
***
“So, how to get men to take some time off? Some countries use a policy lever. Sweden, for instance, has a ‘use it or lose it’ parental-leave policy. Families get 16 months of leave, which parents can divvy up however they want. But two of those months are reserved for each parent. If he or she does not take them, they disappear. In 2016, the government plans to add a third reserved month to help close its not inconsiderable pay gap. The policy ‘is something we’ve really looked forward to. We know that this is a key issue towards attaining greater [gender] equality,’ Annika Strandhäll, the country’s minister for social security, has said.”
Sweden! Where Annika Strandhall gets to tell men exactly when they’re allowed to go back to work.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
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