Sweden and Parental Leave

Helping my brother with his bottle

Sweden might just be the best place in the world to be a parent.

We’ve discussed having a baby in Sweden a few weeks ago. And discussing babies in Sweden is not complete without discussing parental leave! Since it was just Valentine’s Day, and some babies might have been conceived, let’s get the facts straight about what someone living in Sweden can come to expect when planning to have a child here.

I’m going to say this again: Sweden might be the best place in the world to have a baby. Let’s dig into Swedish parental leave (föräldraledighet).

The first is money. Upon registering yourself as a pregnant woman with Försäkringskassan, the federal insurance agency, you can receive money (föräldrapenning) for taking care of your child instead of working, seeking work, or studying. The specific amount of money is related to your income, but even the unemployed will get paid. So while the amount varies, everyone get something. 250 SEK per day (~$30 USD) is around the lowest possible rate for those with no or low income and 942 SEK per day (~$115 USD) is around the highest. The rate you get is based on your income for the previous 6 months. Tax kronor at work.

The money comes to your account on the 25th of each month and you are eligible to receive it 60 days before your estimated due date. If you are pregnant and have a working environment that is dangerous or too physically demanding to a pregnant person and your employer has prohibited you from continuing your work (graviditetspenning), you can apply for pregnancy benefits before the 60 day out mark.

Anyone who is insured in Sweden (so, basically everyone who lives or works here) can receive parental benefits if you or your partner is expecting. Both partners can be on parental leave at the same time. This is called taking double days. You can take out a maximum of 30 double days.

In fact, the non-pregnant parent is entitled to compensation for 10 days of leave in connection with the birth of the child. These tio dagar allow the non-pregnant parent to be present at the delivery, take care of any other kids, and just generally help out as the mother recovers. If the pregnant parent is single, a close relative can apply for these ten days. Expats beware: Your visa renewal can actually be rejected if the non-pregnant partner does not take off these full 10 days!

And speaking of time off, parents who give birth in Sweden get 480 days of paid leave. Yes, you read that right, 16 months of paid leave! And that is if you have only one child. Expect 660 days of paid leave if you have twins, 840 if you have triplets, and 1,020 if you have quadruplets. That’s a lot of days. And babies.

The compensation for first 390 days of your 480 are based on your income (these are referred to as “sickness benefit level days”). For the remaining 90 days, the compensation is set at 180 SEK per day (~$20 USD. These are referred to as “minimum level days”).

If you have sole custody of the child, you are entitled to all 480 days. But if you are sharing custody, then you decide between yourselves how you would like to share the days. However, each parent must take a minimum of 90 days. This is commonly referred to as pappadagar, or “daddy days”. This regulation came from a governmental push to get fathers more involved in parenting. Similarly, the couple can also get an “equality bonus” of 50 SEK (~$5 USD) each per day if they share parental leave equally. Now you see “latte dads” everywhere!

In Sweden, you can take your parental leave up to the time your child turns 12. But you must use the first 390 days before your child turns four. After that, you can bank the remaining 90 days to be used as you like until your child turns 12. And you can split your parental leave, taking one day here and there. You can also take half, quarter, and even one-eight days! Perfect if you want to work half time but get paid for full.

Parents also receive a child allowance! Child allowance is financial support that is automatically paid out to parents who live and have children 16 and younger in Sweden. Basically, the Swedish government pays you to have babies here. In 2019, the amount was 1,250 SEK (~$150 USD) monthly. This is about the same as the monthly preschool (förskola) cost. You do not need to apply for child allowance as it is paid automatically if you are the legal guardian and you and your kid are insured in Sweden. Payments are made in the month after the child was born and will be paid out, up to and including, the quarter when the child turns 16 years old (there is some funny stuff here about the specific month the child turns 16). The same works in cases of adoption. Again, if you have sole custody, you receive the entire child allowance, and split it if you have joint custody.

And the financial help doesn’t stop there! You can also apply for housing allowance if you need support with paying rent or monthly fees for housing.

Now was I right or was I right when I said Sweden was the best place in the world to have babies?

Fun Facts:

  • VAB, or VABing has become a well-used word in Sweden, meaning taking care of a sick child (VAB means Vård av barn or “care of child”). According to Försäkringskassan, “You can receive compensation for caring for a sick child for a maximum of 120 days per year. For the final 60 days, you can only receive the compensation if the child is ill and not if the child’s regular caregiver is ill.”
  • Since February is so cold and dark, many kids get sick during this time. This time of the year is now jokingly referred to as VABruary since parents are so often missing work to VAB!
  • If your child is under the age of 8, you are entitled to reduce your working hours by up to 25%. So you can legally move to 75% work without risk of losing your job. Oh, and companies here have to keep your position available for you to return to after parental leave for up to three years.
  • Today, men in Sweden take nearly 30% of all paid parental leave.
  • A child born to non-Swedish parents does not automatically acquire Swedish nationality even if birthed here. However, foreigners can apply for Swedish citizenship through the naturalization process.

Tess’ Tips:

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!

5 thoughts on “Sweden and Parental Leave

  1. The way that parents and children are treated in Sweden is incredible – definitely something the rest of the world can learn from! As you know, I spent a lot of my time in Sweden working with children, and it was amazing to see the benefits you talk about in action! Sweden is a such a great place for having children – financial support, emphasis on childhood independence, creative playgrounds, forest schools, healthy (free!!) lunch and snacks, and not to mention the cute marshmallow-like playsuits they wear to keep their clothes clean! I would definitely consider moving back when it’s time for kids 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. VABuary!! That is hysterical. You and your brother definitely caused me to take many days off work – and I was very lucky to have some paid vacation leave that I could tap into. Not everyone has that benefit, making child care that much more expensive and stressful. Sweden totally wins on this front. I wish the US were far more enlightened when it comes to protecting and nurturing babies and parents!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Sweden and Healthy Habits | Sweden and Me

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