New rules create even more generous parental leave rights in Sweden

Insights|February 23, 2024

The parliament recently approved new rules about parental leave rights that allow virtually anyone to take parental leave to care for a sick child, for example. This means that the group of employees who can request leave and be covered by the protection against unfavorable treatment in the workplace due to parental leave will be considerably wider than before.

The new rules, which come into effect this July, aim to give parents more flexibility and are adapted to be better suited to the modern family, which can be very diverse. There are three important things to know about the new rules. Firstly, the number of days that both parents are entitled to take out as parental leave simultaneously (so-called “double days”) is doubled from 30 to 60 days per child. Secondly, these double days can now be used over a longer period, i.e. anytime during the first 15 months of the child´s life instead of the 12 months that applied previously. Lastly, the new rules introduce the possibility of transferring days of parental leave to a non-parent by written notification to the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Sw. Försäkringskassan). Parents with joint custody will be able to transfer 45 days each, while a parent with sole custody will be able to transfer 90 days.

In Sweden, the vast majority of parental leave days are still taken by mothers despite measures taken by the legislator over the years. A concern has been raised that the new more generous rights to transfer parental leave days may not serve to create a more equal distribution of the parental leave days between the parents. Several consultation bodies, including the Swedish Agency for Government Employers and the Swedish Equality Authority, have stated that there is a risk that more men than women will transfer their parental leave to another woman, instead of using the days themselves, which would go against the aim of achieving a more gender-equal distribution of parental leave.

For employers, the new legislation means that a wider group of employees will be able to take out leave on short notice, for example to take care of a relative’s or a friend’s sick child. Naturally, this will lead to further business planning challenges for employers. It should also be noted that a wider group of employees will be protected by the prohibition against unfavorable treatment in the workplace when they exercise these rights, which could lead to further disputes in this area of law.