In France, the law provides for an optional paternity leave of eleven days versus sixteen weeks, eight of which are compulsory for the mother. – pixabay

  • Since Sunday, Austria allows all men to go on paternity leave for a period of one month. Vienna follows developments in other Western countries, such as Spain, which took the paternity leave to eight weeks last spring.
  • However, this paternity leave will be compensated only 700 euros. "This is a powerful argument for whether or not to take paternity leave," says Patrice Bonfy, founder of Paternel, an information site on parenting issues.
  • Encouraging fathers to take their paternity leave, especially to reduce gender inequalities, is a more complex issue than it seems, says Patrice Bonfy. The proof in France.

A month to nurse. Austria has just expanded the circle of men who can take advantage of 30 days paternity leave. Until then, the measure, introduced in 2017, benefited only civil servants. As of this Sunday, private employers will no longer be able to refuse the layoff of their employees.

Austria is thus following developments in other Western countries, such as Spain, which last spring put the paternity leave to eight weeks. Patrice Bonfy, founder of
Paternal, online information site on parenting issues, evokes an evolution "that goes in the right direction", but invites to look at the details. "The duration of paternity leave is not the only criterion to take into account," he says. Remuneration for this leave also plays a great role in whether it is taken or not. "

Not just a question of duration

However, this is probably one of the weaknesses of the Austrian system: any employee claiming his right to a month's paternity leave will be compensated up to 700 euros by social security. "This remains for many people a significant financial sacrifice," says Patrice Bonfy.

In France, since 2002, men have the right, in addition to three-day birth holiday, more
a paternity leave of eleven days, fully paid. "That is to say, he is paid in the form of daily allowances of the health insurance on the basis of the salary of the father concerned with a ceiling of 86 euros", specifies Patrice Bonfy.

This paternity leave, optional, finds its audience since it is taken by seven fathers out of ten, evaluated a study of the Ministry of Social Affairs in March 2016.

Repeated calls to improve French paternity leave

Nevertheless, many voices call for an improvement of French paternity leave. In a report published last February, the
High Council of the family, childhood and age advocated extending the paternity leave to one month. In
November 2017, in Causette magazineForty male figures (including rapper Oxmo Puccino, economist Thomas Picketty and comedian Guillaume Meurice) demanded an extension of paternity leave "to six weeks compulsory compensation". On June 16th,
a new forum, this time published in Le Monde, and signed by Patrice Bonfy among others, underlined "the absolute necessity of the reform of the second parent's leave" and asked that it be aligned with the duration of the maternity leave.
Or, for a French employee, sixteen weeks of which eight are mandatory.

The challenge is not just to give more time to the fathers – or the couple's second parent – to bond with their child. "It's also about fighting gender inequalities at home and at work," says Patrice Bonfy. This alignment of the father's leave with that of the mother would already allow a fair distribution of domestic tasks. But this maternity leave also penalizes the careers of the mothers because they are obliged to stop eight weeks in the case of the birth of a child. Since fathers do not have this same obligation, this creates a bias in recruitments and promotions. "

Parental leave too little compensated?

For Patrice Bonfy, the balances to find are more complex than it seems. All is not synonymous with paternity and maternity leave. In France, for example, there is also the parental leave which can last up to six months until the child's first birthday. This time, both parents are on an equal footing. The problem? There are very few fathers but also very few mothers to take this parental leave today. "He is dying," warned Yvon Serieyx, specialist "reconciliation family and professional life" to the
National Union of Family Associations (UNAF), at the microphone
Europe 1, last April 10 "Ten years ago there was about a quarter of the children who were on parental leave, today there are only 14% and only 7% full time. "

"Too few French people know this device," says Tristan Champion, an expatriate dad in Norway, where he runs the blog candyfloss and prepare a book on parental leave. Added to this is a low remuneration capped at 396 euros per month. "It is for many crippling families, the loss of money being too important, regrets Patrice Bonfy. Not only therefore, these parental leaves are little taken but they are even less so by the fathers since the wage inequalities that persist today make it that they often earn the most within the couple. Once again, the mother's career is often put in brackets. "

A Norwegian model that makes you dream

So what to do? To expatriate in Norway as Tristan Champion? " The model has its advantagessays one who was able to enjoy it for his second child. Both parents have up to 46 weeks of parental leave, compensated at 100% of salary (with a cap at 5.800 euros gross per month) to share. In these 46 weeks, three weeks are reserved for the mother, before giving birth, and another fifteen to be taken automatically at birth. For his part, the father also has a quota of 15 weeks that are lost if they are not taken. "

This Norwegian system has so far failed to achieve perfect equality between men and women in the face of parenthood. "30% of fathers do not take parental leave and 33% take the minimum of 12 weeks," says Tristan Champion. But it is much less than ten years ago and it is now very well accepted in Norwegian society that fathers stop working for a while to take care of work. "

"Improvements to the French system"

If this Norwegian model seems difficult to transpose to France, at least in its entirety, Patrice Bonfy cites several points for improvement to the French parental leave. "It would already be better to inform parents of the possibility of parental leave and value the fathers who take it, he says. An example: Today, companies are obliged to establish a diagnosis of the gender gap. Often, the criteria taken into account are wage differentials or parity in manpower and positions of responsibility. These diagnoses, as an indicator of equality, could include the number of men taking parental leave. It still remains to solve the thorny issue of 396 euros, the amount of compensation allocated per month for parental leave. On this point, Patrice Bonfy does not expect everything from the state: "It is also for companies to play via, in particular, collective agreements. "

*This summer, France has extended.


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