The exchange of good practices on the role of men in gender equality in Europe highlights the importance of paternal leave to progress in that area. The report of a seminar on this subject – that took place in Helsinki in October 2014 – presents the context of Finland, Austria and Iceland and the additional comments on other 12 European countries. According to this report,”the paternal leave schemes in Finland, based on non-transferable rights and allowances, are quite effective in terms of the take-up by fathers”. In Austria, the situation differs from Finland “with a more conservative society where the male breadwinner notion still prevails”. This is evidenced in the labour market where a big gap between the participation rates of women and menremains, much of this due to the roles in parenting. While legislation allowing the sharing of parental leave already exists, take-up by men is low for both short and longer periods. To improve the situation, new legislation was introduced at a federal level in 2011, the so-called ‘Daddy’s Leave’. This allows fathers, employed in the public sector (though other organizations can voluntarily adopt it) to take up to one month’s leave following childbirth, unpaid except for social insurance contributions which are met. The situation in Iceland is more akin to the Finnish approach and the country is considered as the one with the smallest wage gap between men and women in the world. The first efforts at introducing parental leave for fathers were made in the 1990s but the debate on how men and women can share the responsibilities started well before this date[…]. Employers with more than 25 employees must have a gender equality plan and this is backed up through consensus from the social partners. Parental leave entitlement has been incrementally introduced and take up by men is now very high with the costs covered by an insurance levy. In 2012 a new law was introduced to add structure to the parental leave options over a 12 month period and with the associated aim to help equalize working hours between men and women.

Download the Summary Report and the Related documents from the European Commission.