05/29/2015 10:53 EDT | Updated 05/30/2015 07:59 EDT

Swedish Dads To Get More Paternity Leave

The Swedish government has announced plans to introduce a third month of paid paternity leave as of 2016 in an effort to increase gender equality.

Social Security Minister Annika Strandhall told Swedish Radio that a third month “is something we’ve really looked forward to. We know that this is a key issue towards attaining greater (gender) equality.”

Currently, Sweden offers 16 months of parental leave, which can be taken by either the mother or father, with two months set aside specifically for dad. The country introduced the first month of leave for fathers in 1995 and the second in 2002.

Sweden is now proposing a “use it or lose it” system for both moms and dads, where they will each be required to take three months parental leave or lose them. Parents can then divide the remaining 10 months between themselves. Additionally, parents will continue to receive 80 per cent of their salary while on leave, to a maximum of $4,360 per month.

The government hopes that by increasing the length of paternity leave, more men will be encouraged to take it. In 2012, most Swedish women were taking parental leave compared to only 24 per cent of men. However, this is likely due to the fact that Swedish men still earn more than women, thus risk losing more wages if they stay at home with the kids.

Similarly, in Canada, only one in 10 fathers are claiming paternity leave. Canadian parental-leave benefits through Employment Insurance (EI) offers 35 weeks, which can be split between both parents. In addition to that, EI also offers mothers 17 weeks of maternity leave.

Click here to find out why so few Canadian dads are taking paternity leave.

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