“I cannot really say what is so strange about fathers being encouraged to stay at home. It should be self-evident as the child is equally on both parents’ responsibility,” Ville says. He is a soon-to-be father and one of the first Finns to whom the long-awaited family leave reform is applied to.
The family leave reform came into effect on the first of August 2022 and its purpose is to promote equality in the Finnish work and family-life. The law reform gives both of the parents an equal amount of leave for the first time with the opportunity of transferring leave for example to one of the parents or another guardian.
Ville Strandman works as a Business Controller at UPM, and the due date of his first-born child is in the end of October. This makes Strandman one of the first Finns to whom this family leave reform is applied to. He is also one of the first UPM employees to whom the corporation’s family leave reform is applied to. UPM pays a 32 weekdays’ paid leave to all its employees eligible for parental allowance according to the family leave reform regardless of their gender or form of family.
The new family leave regulation is applied to children with a due date on September 4th 2022, or after. Strandman plans to stay home with his child for over three months, but his turn will most likely be in a year’s time in the fall. Then Strandman would stay home, and his spouse Venla would return to work. The soon-to-be parents would like to first see what kind of a new person is born into the world.
“Things may seem clear on paper, but we know there may be many surprises that may change the plans,” Strandman says.
Why have fathers not stayed at home?
Before the law reform, mothers used up to 90 % of all parental allowances in Finland, even though fathers have had the legal right to parental allowances as well. In the reform, parental leaves and parental allowances have been divided into halves. Both of the parents get a 160-day allowance quota, from where a parent can give away a maximum of 63 days to another parent, partner or other guardian.
“With this legislation, fathers and employers are being encouraged to seriously consider taking long leaves,” says Eva Ojala, negotiating officer of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
According to the Finnish institute for health and welfare, Finnish fathers take less parental leaves than fathers in other Nordic Countries. A fifth of the fathers do not take any parental leave at all.