Extra parental leave popular among fathers
Nearly three-quarters of fathers and partners took additional parental leave of up to six weeks after the birth of their child. Sixteen percent stuck to the regular one-week leave, and the rest didn't take leave at all, according to the evaluation of the Extra Birth Leave Act (WIEG) that came into effect in 2019 and expanded in 2020.
Since 2020, employed fathers and partners have been allowed to take a total of six weeks of paid birth leave - five weeks on top of the one week leave they were already entitled to. Benefits agency UWV pays out 70 percent of the salary for those extra five weeks of leave.
The evaluation shows that fathers and partners who use the additional parental leave mainly do so to spend more time with their newborn child. Minister Karien van Gennip of Social Affairs and Employment sent these figures to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
Of the 26 percent who did not take additional leave, nearly half said they did not need it. They started working less or stopped working altogether. Many said they wanted to use the extra leave but could not afford it.
The WIEG will not be changed after this evaluation, Van Gennip said in her letter to parliament. The evaluation does not justify a change. It also involves "cultural change, which takes some time."
In addition, the coronavirus measures "almost certainly" influenced the use and effects of the additional parental leave, the Minister said. "Measures such as working from home changed the distribution of care tasks."
The evaluation showed that the uncertainty about the economy or the loss of income due to the pandemic may also have influenced the use of the extra parental leave.
According to Van Gennip, it is too early to draw conclusions about the intended effects of the WIEG. The law aims to positively contribute to the bond between the child and the partner and to increase women's opportunities in the labor market.
Trade union FNV is critical. Partners with lower incomes made less use of the scheme than those with higher incomes. Because you have to miss 30 percent of your income during that period, the scheme is less accessible for low-income households, the union said. FNV wants the government to pay the full salary during the additional parental leave.
Reporting by ANP.