The Finnish government is seemingly edging closer to beginning discussions on the mooted family leave reform.
The New Alternative Parliamentary Group on Tuesday confirmed it is ready to discuss cutting child home care allowances toward the end of the eligibility period as long as the period itself remains unchanged.
Several members of the ruling parliamentary groups have expressed their desire to carry out the reform by the end of the current electoral term.
The Finns Party, however, was long adamant that the eligibility period for child home care allowance must not be shortened. Simon Elo, the chairperson of the group that broke away from the populist party in June, the New Alternative Parliamentary Group, similarly stated last week that if the reform is carried out, the eligibility period for child home care allowance must not be shortened.
He now reveals that the parliamentary group is ready to re-distribute the allowance over the eligibility period by raising it at the beginning and lowering it toward the end.
“That’s precisely the case. We’d be ready to consider having an allowance that's initially higher and drops towards the end,” he says in an interview with Uusi Suomi. “We have a number of these kind of benefits that have been spread over in modern-day Finland. That could make sense also in this case. It’s one possible solution.”
The Finnish government earlier put the reform on hold due to the differences between the three ruling parties, the Centre, Finns Party and National Coalition. The Centre and National Coalition, however, have resumed their attempts to push the reform over the finish line following the split of the Finns Party.
The National Coalition has stated in public that its objective is to reduce the period of time young women spend outside the labour force and to raise the employment rate for young women closer to the levels elsewhere in the Nordics.
Elo reminds that the differences between the ruling parliamentary groups stem not from the objectives but from the measures used to accomplish them.
“I’d say the government shares a willingness to make sure also women are able return to the working life as smoothly as possible, and combine family and working life. I don’t see any differences at the party level, but there may be some differences in what measures we're ready to use,” he tells.
The New Alternative Parliamentary Group, he adds, is prepared to overhaul the family leave system in a way that not only promotes gender equality in the working life and in the distribution of child care duties between parents but also guarantees that families remain free to choose how they distribute the duties.
“This isn’t all about legislative measures but also about the views and attitudes of families on, for instance, whether us fathers are ready to stay home voluntarily to take care of the children,” says Elo.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi