With many emergency COVID measures expected to end in 2021, the liveliest aspect of the international employee benefits scene seems likely to be paternity leave.
Recognising that childcare is no longer exclusively the concern of female employees, countries that have increased their statutory paternity leave in 2021 include Italy (10 days, mandatory), Switzerland (two weeks), Belgium (15 days), and France (25 days). For comparison, many countries across the globe, from Argentina to Romania to Zambia, have existing paternity leave allocations in the two to five days’ range.
On the more generous end, New Zealand offers up to two weeks’ paternity/ partner’s leave, with up to one year’s parental leave shared between the parents. Spain has gone one further by doing away with the ‘paternity’ label entirely; from 1 January 2021, Spain now allocates an equal 16 weeks of statutory paid leave for each parent. This leave is not transferrable between parents and, to avoid the common problem of fathers not taking their leave allocation, both parents must take their first tranche of leave immediately when the baby is born.
Finland, too, is planning a similar reform to encourage both parents to take family leave of up to 160 days each. The change is due to come into effect in August 2022.
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