Danish parliament passes new law for ‘earmarked’ parental leave

Denmark’s parliament on Thursday rubber-stamped a new law which reforms parental leave rules by guaranteeing each parent 11 weeks at home with their newborn child.

Two babies crawling
Denmark's new parental leave rules will take effect on August 2nd. Photo by Lingchor on Unsplash

The new law means that each parent gets 11 weeks of non-transferable parental leave after their child is born. One parent cannot transfer any of the ‘earmarked’ leave to the other, meaning if they do not use the full 11 weeks, they eventually lapse.

Although the new rules were agreed by parliamentary parties in the autumn, the final vote on the bill did not take place until Thursday. Its approval means the new rules come into force on August 2nd.

This also means Denmark meets the deadline for complying with an EU directive requiring member states earmark nine weeks of statutory parental leave for fathers.

Parents whose children are born on or after August 2nd will be covered by the new rules. For children born before that date, the old rules will apply.

“It is a very positive day for Denmark now that parental leave will be divided evenly between parents. That will benefit mums, dads and especially children,” employment minister Peter Hummelgaard said in a government statement.

New Danish rules meanwhile provide for more flexible arrangements for LGBT+ families. From January 1st 2024, families with same-sex parents will also be able to share parental leave. Single parents will be able to share leave with a close family member.

“Families come in many forms in the year 2022. That’s why I’m very pleased that we are improving the options of LGBT+ families and single parents for sharing parental leave. Laws should follow the times so everyone, regardless of family type, can make arrangements that suit their exact situation,” Hummelgaard said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s new parental leave rules explained

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Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

A Danish study has concluded that women are often paid less than men for doing the same job.

Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

The study, from Copenhagen Business School, analysed the salaries of 1.2 million people in Denmark aged 30-55 years.

On average, women earn 7 percent less despite having the same profession and same job as their male colleagues, researchers concluded.

CBS professor Lasse Folke Henriksen, one of the report’s co-authors, said the results suggests that the overall disparity between the wages of men and women in Denmark is not solely a result of the pay grades in the professions in which they work.

“The equality debate has for some time focused on wage hierarchy in female-dominated and male-dominated professions,” he said.

“But this suggests there is also a wage gap between men and women with the same job function,” he said.

The study does not specify reasons for the wage gap. Henriksen said further research will address this, but existing research offers potential explanations.

“Family relations mean a lot. Women who have children put more work into home care and so on. That could help to explain it,” he said.

Denmark is not the only country looked at by the study.

The study uses data registered from 2015 and finds an overall wage gap for all countries of 18 percent, with women therefore earning considerably less than men on average.

Along with France, Denmark has the smallest wage gap (7 percent) of all countries analysed. Nordic neighbours Norway and Sweden are close behind with 9 and 8 percent respectively.

The largest wage gap found by the study was 26 percent in Japan.

“So Denmark is well placed,” Henriksen said.

“We also have analyses from further in the past so we can see that the wage gap has shrunk over the years. That’s very positive, and that has also happened in other countries,” he said.