Monday, June 27, 2011

Swedish Parental Leave Benefits: A breakdown

Calculating Swedish parental leave is a science to itself. While I am 150% grateful to live in a country that considers Family Values to include families being able to afford spending time together as a family, it really takes a long time to figure out how all of this stuff works.

I will try to break it down here – but I will probably make some mistakes. If you want information directly from the source check out but ever since they added all of those stupid videos the site makes my eyes bleed.

So here are the basics and the more complicated aspects of Swedish Parental Leave:

Each family or couple is awarded 480 days of parental leave.

Of those, 390 days are at 80% of your pay rate if you have worked for a certain amount of time before you went on leave. The cap on this is about 428 000 SEK per year.

90 of those days are at the base rate of 180 SEK per day.

Of those 480 days, if there is dual custody (having sole custody is extremely rare) than each parent is reserved 60 days of the '80% pay' days. This means that, typically, the father MUST take out 60 days of the 480. If he does not, those days are lost. But the same can be said of the mother, she MUST take out 60 of the days. This means neither parent can take out all of the 480 days.

The days are initially split in half, this means I was awarded 240 days and my husband 240 days. He needs to transfer his days to me if I want to stay home more than 240 days. But he cannot transfer more than 180 days.

You can use your parental leave days at any time until your child turns 8 years old. This means you can choose to save some, as we have, for future long vacations and such.

Your employer has to grant you up to 18 months of time off to care for your child full time after they are born. After that they have to allow you to bring down the number of hours you work per week from 40 (or 100%) to 30 (or 75%). You can use your extra parental days to cover the missing 25%.

Then things start to get confusing:

Your parental pay is based on what you have earned for the proceeding months you have worked. Since many new moms work less while having children, there are some protection methods in place so that you don't lower your parental pay.

If you get pregnant before one year and nine months after your last child, your rate of parental leave money stays the same. That means, if you work less it won't effect your parental leave rate. As long as you are 'busy' 5 days a week. By 'busy' it means you are studying, unemployed, collecting parental leave, or at work.

I haven't figured out all of the nuances yet. I'm hoping I will manage to do OK with my parental leave. I still have a bunch of days left I'm not sure what to do with. And I hate feeling like I 'must have a baby' within a certain time frame. But when you punch through the numbers it gets a little crazy.
Again – just a warning – please don't take this info as fact, double check everything. I'm still a little fuzzy on a lot of the details!


  1. I don't understand it at all, but my husband finally figured out how he wants to use our 900-some unused days, and I hope he figured it out right! He'll be working four days a week but getting paid for seven for, like, YEARS. Crazy!

  2. I think one of the weird things a friend told me is that the 480 days includes weekends too.

    She said when her husband took five days off a week to take care of their son (since he worked five days a week), he received a lower salary because he didn't take the full week (seven days) off.

    That is really confusing. Have you heard anything like that?

  3. Yes, sapphire, the 80 percent is calculated as taking 7 days a week, so you need to take Saturday and Sunday too.

    It is weird because it makes for situations like antropologas where, because she only gets base pay, it can be better for a family to have the higher earner take the 3 days a week financially.

    It really is a system that you have to work out what is most important to you, and how to make it work for you. Bit I'm not complaining, I think it is an incredibly generous system