- Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has announced that he wants to extend the country’s paternity leave policy and require fathers to take at least part of it.
- The country is currently offering 14 days of paid leave for fathers after having a baby, and Macron would like to extend that to 28 days.
- Studies show that parental leave offers many benefits, including lower infant mortality rates.
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The French president wants to expand the country’s paid paternity leave policy and demand that new fathers take advantage of it at least in part.
Before going to a nursery last Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Instagram that he wanted to extend France’s paternity leave policy from 14 days to 28 days. Fathers would be required to take at least a week’s leave and would be paid by France’s health insurance system, the Associated Press reported.
New mothers in France have at least 16 weeks of leave after the birth of their first child. After the third child and beyond, mothers are 26 weeks old. In any case, mothers must take at least eight weeks off.
The announcement highlights the marked disparities in the way new parents are cared for in European countries compared to the United States.
The United States is the only wealthy country that does not offer any form of paid family leave
The United States is the only industrialized country that does not impose any form of paid parental leave. (Some employees are entitled to 12 weeks unpaid leave after childbirth, which means their job will be protected while caring for a newborn baby). It is up to each employer to decide whether and how much paid time off to offer employees.
This approach is limiting for new parents. Almost one in four women return to work within two weeks of giving birth and 76% of fathers return to work within a week.
Parental leave offers many benefits for parents, babies and even employers. One study found that paid vacation programs can dramatically reduce infant mortality rates and improve overall child health. Other studies have shown that paternity leave can help fathers form stronger bonds with their children, even after they return to work.
European countries generally offer generous leave policies for new parents
European countries, like France, have historically offered more generous policies for new parents.
In Sweden, new mothers have 18 weeks of leave after childbirth. Parents are also entitled to 480 additional days of shared leave and can distribute them as they see fit. Each parent is entitled to 90 of those days. During this time, parents receive 80% of their regular salary.
In Estonia, mothers are granted 140 days of maternity leave, which can start up to 70 days before the due date. Mothers receive their full standard salary. Fathers are entitled to two weeks of paid leave. After that, the parents get an additional 435 days and the compensation corresponds to the average of their two incomes.