Surge In Interest For Shared Parental Leave: Here’s How To Make It Work As A New Dad

Throughout the pandemic many workplaces have offered their employees more flexibility. Flexible working options (such as adjusting hours, days or place of work) are attractive to many employees, and can offer your team more control over how, where and when you and your teams work. New research has found that 27% of working parents want to see more flexibility at work, too.

One area that’s surged in popularity over recent months is shared parental leave. This is where both parents can take time off in a more flexible way during your baby’s first year. Our new research has revealed a 33% increase in Google UK searches for ‘shared parental leave’ over the past year.

We analysed every country in Europe to find out who offers the most statutory maternity and paternity leave for new parents, looking at the number of days new mums and dads can take off work whilst still being paid from their employer when a child is born.

Which European countries offer the most paternity leave?

Paternity leave varies widely across Europe, but in general fathers are entitled to fewer days off work compared to new mothers. The average paid paternity leave is just 3.4 weeks, compared to 23.1 weeks for statutory maternity leave. Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland) offer generous paternity leave policies, with Sweden offering the highest statutory paternity leave at 34 weeks.

Nordic countries are shaping the future of shared parental leave

Our research has shown that Nordic countries are paving the way for more flexible parental leave, allowing parents to share their time-off. New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days leave after their child is born, compared with 50 weeks (380 days) in the UK.

With more parents searching for flexible working options in the workplace, we spoke to Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health at Bupa UK, who has shared how to make shared parental leave (SPL) work as a new dad.

“Shared parental leave gives new dads longer periods of time away from work to bond with their baby – there are lots of wellbeing benefits of shared parental leave for new mums and dads. From increased involvement in your baby’s early stages to greater flexibility in working patterns to support your partner.”

Creating an emotional connection with your baby is crucial for your baby’s development and social skills. Shared parental leave offers new dads a chance to spend more time at home to bond with their baby, compared to standard paternity polices seen across Europe. Don’t underestimate the importance of bonding with your baby as a new dad: it can boost your overall wellbeing, reduce stress, and increase your self-esteem as you build a strong connection with your baby.

Studies have also shown heavy involvement from dads during a baby’s early stages has a positive impact on a babies cognitive and behavioural development, as well as helping new dads to feel involved and connected to their baby from a young age.

Adjusting to parenthood can be tiring, especially if you’re getting less sleep and continuing to work. Shared parental leave offers greater flexibility in childcare options for both parents and can help improve your work-life balance. Splitting shared parental leave days means new dads can also spend more time with the family while their partner returns to work.

In most households’, women are still the primary carer for new-borns and the rest of the family. Shared leave gives dads a greater opportunity and flexibility to support their partner to look after their baby.

SPL offers new parents the opportunity to learn from each other, helping both parents to feel connected as a family unit. For example, sharing with your partner how you are feeling during your SPL experience can help you to feel supported.

Top 5 Maternity policies across Europe

Bulgaria58.6 weeks
Albania52 weeks
Bosnia and Herzegovina52 weeks
Serbia52 weeks
Montenegro52 weeks

Top 5 Paternity policies across Europe

Sweden34 weeks
Iceland26 weeks
Norway19 weeks
Spain16 weeks
Finland9 weeks

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