Despite both parents having the right to take 32 weeks of parental leave, the average Danish father only takes 31 days and the lion’s share of days off work (298) are taken by mothers.
In a bid to establish better gender equilibrium, the government has conveyed it has met with a string of organisations to discuss the possibilities of making some changes to the current situation.
“Parental leave opportunity is equal, but there is a tendency to interpret it as belonging to mothers. That can lead to Dad feeling like he has to negotiate with his work and eventually also with the mother, and then perhaps justify to his friends and colleagues why he is taking parental leave,” said the equality minister, Mogens Jensen.
EU making change
An EU directive that is set to come into effect in 2022 dictates that two months paid leave must be earmarked for both parents, and they can’t be transferred to one another, so that’s one issue the government will need to navigate.
Currently, all pregnant women have a right to four weeks maternity leave before giving birth and 14 weeks afterwards. Parents and co-mothers have the right to two weeks leave that they must take in the first two weeks after the birth.
Following the first two weeks, each parent has the right to take 32 weeks of leave, which they can spilt as they see fit and be taken until the child turns nine years of age.
Last year, the union that represents Denmark’s bosses, Ledernes Hovedorganisation, contended that if Denmark was serious about equal pay and career possibilities, earmarked paternity leave may be the only way forward.
In 2017 it was revealed that Danish men struggle to compare to their Nordic brethren in terms of taking paternity leave.
In Denmark, fathers account for just 10 percent of the total parental leave period afforded to families – a far cry from the 30 percent taken by fathers in Sweden and Iceland.