Government backs off paternity leave promise

Unions furious at “broken promise” of 12 weeks of paternity leave earmarked for men

The government is cheating new fathers out of three months of earmarked paternity leave, according to the nation's major trade unions.

According to the weekly newsletter A4, the unions argue that the decision by the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), to defer earmarking three months of leave, and instead forming a committee to examine the proposal, is a complete turn-around by the government.

“The government promised in black and white that it would give three months in paternity leave,” Lizette Risgaard, spokesperson for LO, the Danish confederation of trade unions, told A4.

Risgaard said that when the parties that make up the current government were sitting in opposition to the previous Venstre-led regime, ensuring more time off for men to take part in nurturing their children was a big part of their agenda. She said it was “incomprehensible” that they would now back down on their promises.

Representatives from the country’s trade unions all expressed frustration that extended paternity leave is not on the agenda for the current parliamentary session.

Anette Borchorst, a social scientist specialising in gender equality at Aalborg University, said the government was breaking a promise.

“This is an about-face,” she told A4. “The government stated clearly that it would earmark up to three months of paid paternity leave and if they do not submit the bill, it is hard to interpret it as anything other than a broken promise.”

Borchorst said that greater equality in child care leave will create a better balance in families.