Paid paternity leave offered more frequently at Dutch businesses

While the government is still working on plans for longer paternity leave, Dutch companies are taking the lead in this field. More and more businesses in the Netherlands are offering new fathers more paid leave when their child is born, BNR reports.

The coalition agreement for the Rutte III government states that paid paternity leave will increase from two days to five days from 2019 onwards. But a number of Dutch businesses are deciding not to wait for that.

Last week Tilburg school community Xpect Primary announced that all employees whose partner gave birth can take up to four weeks paid leave. Dutch bank ING also implemented 1 month's paid paternity leave for new fathers, after which they can also take up to three more months unpaid leave.

Consultancy company &Samhoud has been giving new fathers two months of paid leave for years. "This also makes you a more attractive employer", Jeroen Geelhoed of the company said to BNR. "People stay with you for longer, are more involved and more loyal. That is a conscious choice we made ten years ago." According to him, this doesn't lead to dissatisfaction between fathers and men with no children. "Everyone understands it, because there is also a practical reason for it. If you've just had a child, you are up three times a night and the next day you have to lead a meeting of the board, then everyone understands that you can not be sharp. Then it's better that you're not there."

Gerhard van Hees of trade union FNV sees two explanations for this trend - increasing awareness of a father's role in child raising, and the hunt for talent. "Research shows that the bond of the partner, the father usually, with the child is much better when he is with the baby more after birth", Van Hees said. "But we also notice that there is a battle for young and successful ICT talent. We see that this created a working condition at ING, with which it has a competitive advantage in the labor market." 

Van Hees believes its only a matter of time before long paternity leave is the order of the day, though added that small companies will need support to achieve this. "I foresee that this will be an oil slick that will extend over the Netherlands", he said.

Renske Keizer, professor of fatherhood at the University of Amsterdam and the Erasmus University, agrees. "The interest of the father in raising the child is becoming increasingly important", Keizer said. She added that this has major advantages that extend past just the new fathers. Swedish research shows that with every month fathers take paternity leave, the income of women rises by 7 percent, she said to the broadcaster.