Photo: Johan Bävman
Today was a rare Thursday. In the early afternoon, I got a moment to grab a coffee and sit in a cafe. Munching on my cardamom bun and sipping my latte, I looked around the room. Rather a large space with lots of seats. High ceilings. Modern Swedish design. And packed with people.
A greater analysis of the demographic wasn’t really required. It was obvious from first glance that the majority of the guests were parental-leave parents – the armada of pushchairs being the biggest giveaway.
About 50 percent of these guests were men. Bearded, beany-hatted, tattooed chillaxed dads. Trendy Swedish pappor. Taking advantage of the generous Swedish parental leave laws, these dads were enjoying their pesto pancake salads and bonding with their newborn infants.
As I sat there I was reminded of a comment made to me some years ago by a friend visiting from Austria. After a couple of days in Sweden, observing the Swedes, she made an interesting reflection.
She thought it was fantastic that there were so many gay nannies sitting in the cafes and patrolling the streets.
Sweden truly is an amazing place!
It’s common knowledge that Sweden has one of the world’s best systems for paid leave in connection with the birth of a child – thirteen months parental leave which can be shared between both the parents. The payment received is equivalent to about 80% of salary up to a certain level.
Now, Swedish company Spotify has announced an upgrade to this system for employees working in their company. Parents at Spotify are allowed to take free time, or parental leave, for 6 months at full pay. This is for either parent so is not gender, or role, specific. When the employee returns to work, there is also a ‘welocme back’ month where they can work part-time and from home to ease themselves back into the workplace and from their infant. The great thing about this is that it’s not just Sweden. It’s GLOBALLY! For all employees everywhere in the world.
It’s great to see private organisations taking responsibility for their employees. The government and the tax payer can only do so much, if they even do anything at all. The Head of HR at Spotify says
“This policy best defines who we are as a company, born out of a Swedish culture that places an emphasis on a healthy work-family balance, gender equality and the ability for every parent to spend quality time with the people that matter most in their lives.”