Finnish reform gives employees right to equal parental leave

Credit: Ilari Nackel /

The Finnish government has reformed family leave legislation as of this week, giving both parents the right to an equal amount of parental leave for the first time.

Under the reform, both parents are entitled to 160 days’ parental allowance, with one parent able to transfer up to 63 days to the other. There will be an allowance period of 40 days for the final stage of pregnancy and six allowance days per week, with total amount of days for parents amounting to more than 14 months.

Parents can use their allowance days up until the child reaches the age of two, and can split the leave up into four parts. Only the pregnancy allowance days will have to be used in a single continuous period, starting 14 to 30 days before the estimated date of birth. If a child has only one parent, they are entitled to an allowance of 320 working days.

The reform applies to parents expecting a child on or after 4 September, regardless of whether they are biological or adoptive, custodial or non-custodial, and regardless of their gender. According to the Finnish government, this will promote a more balanced sharing of care responsibilities and parenting between the genders, and also take better account of different types of families, single parents and multiple-birth families.

The old and new family leave legislation will exist side by side until the end of 2024, with the old legislation applying to parents expecting a child before 4 September.

The reform will also introduce the right to carers’ leave, with employees able to take unpaid carers’ leave for up to five days per year.

Hanna Sarkkinen, Minister for Social Affairs, said: “The reform will improve the position of women in the labor market, and give fathers more time with their newborn children as well.”