5 Things That Make Sweden Family-Friendly

BY: Linnéa Mäki, Course Administrator at MediCarrera

With 16 months of parental leave and public day care services, Sweden is known as one of the most family-friendly countries in the world. Even though the income taxes are high, a significant share goes into providing a work-life balance within the society. When it comes to choosing a family-friendly country, Sweden has plenty of positive arguments. Here are some of them:

1. A very long paid parental leave

In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave once a child is born or adopted. This very high number is perhaps Sweden’s most famous argument when it comes to being a family-friendly country. For 390 of the days, parents are entitled to nearly 80% of their usual salary. The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat rate. The unemployed are also entitled to paid parental leave.

Parental leave can be used until a child turns eight. The leave entitlement applies to each child (except in the case of multiple births), so parents can accumulate leave from several children. Outside the 480 paid days, parents in Sweden also have the legal right to reduce their normal working hours by up to 25% until the child turns eight. In that case, they get paid only for the time they work.

“In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave once a child is born or adopted. This very high number is perhaps Sweden’s most famous argument when it comes to being a family-friendly country.”

2. Gender equality

In Sweden’s efforts to achieve gender equality, each parent is entitled to 240 of the 480 days of paid parental leave. Each parent has 90 days reserved exclusively for him or her. Should a father, or a mother for that matter, decide not to take them, they cannot be transferred to the partner. Nowadays, men in Sweden take nearly a quarter of the entire parental leave, and the government hopes to improve that.

3. Monthly allowance for children

The government in Sweden provides an additional monthly child allowance (barnbidrag) until a child reaches the age of 16. An allowance of SEK 1,050 per month per child (2015) helps parents with the costs of caring for their children. If you have more than one child, you also get an extra family supplement (flerbarnstillägg), which increases further with each additional child.

4. Free schooling

You can send your child to preschool (förskola) for a maximum cost of SEK 1,287 per month, so many families choose to use their monthly child allowance to help offset this cost.

As a resident in Sweden, you don’t have to worry about putting money aside for your child’s education: the school for children aged 6 to 19 (from preschool through upper secondary school) is free of charge, with free lunches. The free education continues into university because the government gives a grant (partly a loan) for studies (CSN). That makes it possible for everybody to study.

5. Public health and dental care

Healthcare (including dental care) is essentially free in Sweden until the age of 20. From the age of 20, a visit to the doctor will cost you between SEK 100 and 300, depending on where you live, while a specialist consultation costs a maximum of SEK 400. If you incur SEK 1,100 in fees in one year (a 12-month period, not necessarily a calendar year), a high-cost protection (högkostnadsskydd) scheme provides free care for the remainder of that year.

If you fall sick and can’t work, you’re entitled to paid sick leave (except the first day you are off work) so you can concentrate on getting better. The payment is the equivalent of about 80% of your normal income, based on a nominal salary up to a maximum of SEK 27,800 before tax (2015).

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