Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers (Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Directives 2006/54, 2010/18 and 2019/1158)

AuthorJenny Julen Votinius
5 Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers
(Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Directive s 2006/54, 2010/18 and
5.1 General (legal) context
5.1.1 Surveys and reports on the practical difficulties linked to work -life balance
In 20 17, an inquiry on gender equality in parenthood delivered its report, Government
Report 2017:101.35 The inquiry’s remit was to review the provisions on parental leave and
parental insurance, to identify problems and propose measures to make the parental
insurance system increase its contribution to promote equality, i.e. gender equality in the
labour market and gender-equal parenthood. The inquiry noted that th e labour market is
still highly gender segregated. In comparison to men, women more often have temporary
employments, take out more parental leave and are more likely to work part time. Women
are overrepresented as regards sick leave, and generally have greater responsibility for
the family and domestic work. In relation to this, the inquiry noted that women’s average
earnings are lower, and that there are fewer women than men in senior management
positions, despite that women have, on average, a higher level of education than men.
Among other measures, the inquiry proposed an increase of the number of days in the
parental insurance that cannot be transferred to the other parent.
5.1.2 Other issues
The strength of Swedish legislation is without doubt the right to shorter working hours for
employees with small children. At the same time this may provide ‘a trap’ for women
traditionally taking on the larger part of family responsibilities. One can discuss and this
is done in Sweden the basic design of the public parental benefits scheme, as it is based
not on individual rights but on a family basis, the latter being rather uncharacteristic of
Swedish welfare rights, generally speaking. Reform s have successively been made
introducing the now non-transferable ‘daddy months’. Since January 2016, the non-
transferable period of parental leave amounts to 90 days. According to a 2017 report,
men’s share of parental benefit da ys still ( 2016) amounts to 27 % whereas women use
73 %.36 Men’s share has been steadily increasing since the scheme’s introduction back in
1974, and particularly since the successive introduction of the non-transferable days. The
proportion of couples who share the parental leave equally between them (‘equal
parenting’) has more than tripled, evolving from 4 % in 2000 to 14 % in 2013. Statistics
and scholarly work have identified the educational level and higher earnings especially
for mothers as important for men’s take up of parental leave. Parents working in the
public sector share the parental leave more equally than those in the private sector . The
same applies for those living in a metropolitan area, and parents born in Sweden.37 The
report emphasises the importance of enhancing the position of the mother. 38 Until now,
34 See Masselot, A. (2018), Family leave: enforcement of the protection against dismissal and unfavourable
treatment, European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at:
dismissal-and-unfavourable-treatment-pdf-962-kb and McColgan, A. (2015), Measures to address the
challenges of work-life balance in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, European
network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at:
35 Government Report Jämställt föräldraskap och goda uppväxtvillkor för barn en ny modell för
föräldraförsäkringen, SOU 2017:101, available (in Swedish with English summary) at:
36 De jämställda föräldrarna (2013:8).
37 See, among many others, Ma, L., Andersson, G., Duvander, A-Z., Evertsson, M. (2018), Forerunners and
Laggards in Sweden’s Family Change Fathers’ Uptake of Parental Leave, 1993-2010. Working Paper
2018:01, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center on Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe, SPaDE.!/menu/standard/file/WP_2018_01.pdf.
38 See also National Social Insurance Office, Föräldrapenning. En analys av användandet 1974-2011 (Parental
leave benefit. An analysis of the take-up 1974-2011) Social Insurance Report 2012:9.

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