An In-Depth Look at Norway’s Progressive Parental Leave Policies

The International Labour Office (ILO) created the first global maternity leave standard in 1919. The standard policy was revised in 1952, which granted a minimum of 12 weeks’ leave. According to the guidelines directed by the ILO, in countries that offer cash benefits via social security, mothers are to be paid at the rate of at least two-thirds of their previous earnings (ensured), along with full health benefits.

The International Labour Office (ILO) reports that over 120 countries globally offer paid maternity leave and other health benefits by law. These include most industrialized nations except the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

In tandem, many countries have introduced legislation that grants the standard 14-week maternity leave and a certain number of paid leaves for fathers. Policy movements such as these have been enacted mainly because a growing number of bodies, besides the International Labor Organization, have started to recognize that providing parental leaves to both fathers and mothers following the birth of a child can benefit the parents and children.

The umbrella of family leave policies following the birth of a child has spawned several types of leave, from maternity, paternity, and parental, to paid, unpaid and partially paid options.

Leading the Way

Scandinavian countries have become champions in offering a forward-thinking parental leave structure. While Finland leads the way with its mandated 164 days parental leave policy, Norway takes the cake with a one-year leave provided to the parents after the first 12 months. And if a parent is the only caregiver of the child, they are entitled to taking both years.

The 12 months include the right to leave for 12 weeks during pregnancy and up to six weeks after conception. There are multiple options for parents in Norway. For instance, one can get “foreldrepenger” (which translates to parent’s money, which is 100 % pay for a 49-week paternal leave, or 80 % of regular pay for a 59-week paternal leave.

According to the Norwegian National Insurance Act, the right to parental benefit during parental leave is also statutory. Those entitled to parental benefits can apply at the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).

Removing ‘Gender’ in Parenting

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen a shift in the traditional parenting norms where the younger generation now demands equal roles in parenting. Since accepting gender-neutral parenting is the backbone of gender equality removing the gender aspect in parenting is considered a massive step in the right direction.

This is mainly because it addresses the problem from its inception, or in this case, conception. There is also a business and economic impact of taking advantage of equal parental leave. For instance, when fathers take their permitted parental leave, mothers can return to work sooner; this helps with their monthly payments and improves their chances of promotion.

Equal parental leave that’s mandated will help alter the traditional perception that caregiving or parenting is a solely female responsibility. And, the more men take parental leave to tend to their newborns, the more it will become the norm. According to research, fathers who do utilize paternity leave when their child is born are likely to be more involved in the caregiving of their children. If you want to be in the loop of global compliance and international employment laws, visit Global People Strategist and schedule a demo to find out how we can support your business with our comprehensive database of employment laws, regulations, and compliance tools.

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