Earmarked parental leave works

In August 2022, Denmark's new rules on earmarked parental leave for fathers and co-mothers came into force. This has led to a significant increase in fathers' use of parental leave, according to new figures from IDA.

On 2 August last year, earmarked parental leave became a reality for new parents in Denmark. The change in Danish parental leave rules came into force, with 11 weeks of leave now earmarked for fathers or co-mothers.

Now, new figures from IDA show that earmarking is working as intended. Fathers are taking a significantly larger share of the leave compared to before, when they were entitled to just two weeks of leave.

IDA surveyed 3,777 members who are on parental leave, have been on parental leave or expect to be on parental leave from their current workplace. And among those who became parents before 2 August, women took or planned to take 37.6 weeks of leave on average, while men aimed to take 9.5 weeks. 

This distribution is markedly different for those who became parents after 2 August, when the earmarking came into effect.

On average, women planned to take a total of 33.2 weeks of leave, while men took or planned to take an average of 13.6 weeks of leave. The distribution of parental leave has thus become more equal for IDA members. Men take on average more than four weeks longer leave under the new rules, while women take on average almost four and a half weeks less.

Malene Matthison-Hansen, Chair of the IDA Council of Employees, welcomes the development.

"One of the intentions of earmarking more leave for fathers has been to change the stereotype that parental leave is something only mothers take. This has happened. We also see that, on average, fathers are taking or planning to take four weeks longer leave compared to before, and they are even taking 2.6 weeks more than the earmarked weeks they are now entitled to. This clearly shows that the legislative change is working as intended. At least when it comes to IDA's members," she says.

Malene Matthison-Hansen points out that an equal distribution of parental leave strengthens gender equality. 

"We know that when women take the majority of parental leave, it has a negative impact on their salary development and pension savings, and they generally fall behind in their careers compared to men. When more men take a larger share of parental leave, it strengthens gender equality in terms of pay and career opportunities. At the same time, it promotes more equal parenthood. This is positive," says Malene Matthison-Hansen.

The study also shows that the better the pay conditions during parental leave that fathers enjoy at their workplace, the longer the leave they are more likely to take. Since the change in the law came into force, a large number of companies have announced that they have improved their parental leave conditions to make themselves more attractive to younger employees, both women and men.

Parental leave: your rights

Whether your child is born before or after the new parental leave rules came into force, you can get an overview of your rights in IDA's guide. 

View rules about parental leave