‘The Norway Model’ is a phrase most associated with false promises surrounding our exit of the European Union, not with childcare. But from this day onward, let us try and think of the term as a positive move towards gender equal mindsets around maternity and paternity leave.
The government have made steps towards balancing out the role of mother and father, in the early stages of parenthood, but the statutory minimum for paternity is still not enough.
Men getting more time with their baby is not just a positive step, in terms of encouraging a balance ion care from both parents, but it support the ever more challenging task of mothers going back to work, without taking huge pay cuts or slowing career progression.
Norway’s model is far fairer than ours and anyone who has been lucky enough to spend any time in Norway’s larger cities, will be aware that dad groups in coffee shops, with reams of bags and prams is just as common a sight as mums in London.
Here is how the UK and Norway compare on Maternity and Paternity (as per an article on A New Life In Norway):
Mothers Maternity Leave:
UK – In the UK the statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks made up of 26 ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional leave. The first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of weekly earnings. The next 33 weeks will be paid at £136.78 a week.
The mother must take the first two weeks (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory). It’s possible to start maternity leave up to 11 weeks before the due date but then you reduce the time you have left after the baby is born. Many will work up to a week or even right up to the due date.
Norway – In Norway the statutory parental leave is either 49 weeks at 100% salary or 59 weeks at 80% salary to be divided between both parents but with some constraints as to how much a mother must take and how much a father must take (see next section). I believe you can take more time unpaid but I’m not sure how long this is.
By law the mother MUST take 9 weeks of that leave for herself. She must finish work 3 weeks before the due date and then take the following 6 weeks to be home with the baby. This period will be paid at 100% or 80% depending on the applicants choice. The National Welfare Office pays a big chunk of this but most employers in Norway will top up to your full salary.
Fathers Paternity Leave:
UK – In the UK the father is eligible to 1 or 2 weeks paid paternity leave when the baby is born. The UK Government site also informs that fathers are eligible for additional 26 weeks paternity leave if the mother returns back to work.
Payment is based on the same scheme outlined above however this additional leave needs to be used before the child turns one year old.
Norway – In Norway the father is entitled to take 2 weeks paid leave when the baby is born and MUST take (by law) an additional 14 weeks of paid leave (either 100% or 80% salary depending on the applicants choice) before the child turns 3 years old. Therefore, the parents need to decide how to use the remaining weeks e.g. the mother takes it all, the father takes it all or they both work part-time and share it – employers generally respect the choice of the parents in this matter since Norway is such a family focused country.