Leave for parents in the Nordic countries: Politics, policies and practices

  • Borchorst, Anette (Projektdeltager)
  • Bloksgaard, Lotte (Projektdeltager)
  • Rostgaard, Tine (Projektdeltager)



Rights to leave from work when becoming a parent is a core welfare benefit that is central to the reconciliation of work and family. Mothers’ first gained the right to take leave. This form of leave was first regulated in the early 1900s and has since the 1960s and 70s been a core benefit in the Nordic welfare states. During the first 70-80 years of political debates, it was considered as a benefit for mothers only, but the rights of fathers have increasingly come to the agenda with the introduction of parental leave and not least the fathers’ quota, a use-it-or-lose it leave entitlement. The gendered construction of parental leave schemes have received increasing focus, and is regarded as a key focus of gender equality strategies in the Nordic countries.

The project focuses at the construction of leave in Denmark and other Nordic countries in a European context. In Denmark leave rights are established at several different levels: in legislation, in the collective agreements and at company level.One objective is to map rights, rules and agreements at the different organizational and institutional levels, and leave take up of fathers and mothers in relation hereto. Another is to addresses construction and negotiations of leave in the family, at the company level, in collective agreements and at the political level in relation to leave rights and ideals of parenthood and gender. Also variations in discourses and policy framings are studied.

Key questions are:

• Why do the gendered constructions and the political rhetoric of parental leave differ in the Nordic countries?

• Which actors and dynamics have shaped the Danish/Nordic parental leave schemes?

• What leave rights are offered/exists in the different collective agreements and at company level in selected fields in the Danish labour market? (best and worst practices). How do these effect the take up of leave among women and men?

• Which discourses and arguments for leave to mothers and fathers respectively are produced in negotiations in the families, at company level and in the political debates? Are discourses at the different levels related and how?

• How are women’s and men’s leave practices influenced by leave rights and ideals of gender and parenthood and gender equality?

Effektiv start/slut dato01/05/2012 → …