Critics have attacked new EU’s rules on parental leave, arguing that they will disadvantage female entrepreneurs in Denmark because of the extended period of compulsory maternity leave.
Kvinderådet, an umbrella organisation for all the Danish women’s associations, and SMVdanmark, an interest organisation for 18,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, pointed out that the EU’s new decision has flaws and fosters inequality.
The previous scheme allowed Danish women to take a short leave and get back to their business.
“In a family where the mother is self-employed and the father is an employee, you will typically look at who has the best finances when it come to staying at home and then adjust to it”, explained Alexander Nepper, the political consultant of SMVdanmark.
But the EU’s new decision enforces women to take at least two months more of the maternity leave.
Primed for dads
The primary purpose of the EU’s new rules is to ensure that men take at least half of the 32 weeks of parental leave that are left after deducting the earmarked period from a total of 52 weeks.
The equality minister, Mogens Jensen, has presented a draft model whereby parents can transfer their parental leaves to each other.
However, by the force of the EU’s rules, the 16 weeks that each parent is granted will be limited to half of the transfer.
Considering that few women run their own business in Denmark, the implementation could serve to worsen the situation.
According to Danmarks Statistik, only 8 percent of start-ups were launched by women under the age of 35 in 2017 whereas 27 percent was taken by men in the same age group.
Both Kvinderådet and SMVdanmark assert that the government should learn from the established system of Sweden, which allows parents to share equally if they wish, but also to permits one of them to take the lion’s share of the leave.
“It allows a woman to have a business while the partner takes the major part of the leave”, said Lise Johansen, the director of Kvinderådet.
The minister of employment, Peter Hummelgaard Thomsen, has announced that an implementation committee will be arranged this month.