“Some fathers say to themselves that this device is a women’s affair”

Paternity leave was extended to 28 days on September 23, 2020. – CAN GO

  • A reform was passed in 2015 to encourage fathers to use parental leave so that they devote more time to parenting tasks and to encourage mothers to return to the labor market more quickly.
  • But according to a study by the French Economic Observatory, less than 1% of fathers took full-time parental leave after the birth of their child.
  • However, the government aimed to achieve 25% of the rate of use of fathers for this leave. Compensation, “women’s affair”… Hélène Périvier, economist at the OFCE and co-author of the report, explained to “20 Minutes” why this device is not very attractive.

While a reform in force since 2015 aimed to increase the rate of fathers who take full-time parental leave after the birth of their child to 25%, it is ultimately less than 1% of them who took advantage of it. ,
reveals a study carried out by the French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures (OFCE), published this Wednesday.

Since the beginning of 2015, for families with at least two children, parental leave no longer lasts three years, but two, unless the parents share it: for example the mother can stop working for two years, and the father take the relay in the third year. Despite this text, the overwhelming majority of fathers did not take advantage of it. Low compensation, “gender effect”, ignorance… According to the authors, there are many reasons. 20 minutes takes stock of this study with Hélène Périvier, economist at OFCE and co-author of the report.

What does this study reveal about fathers taking parental leave?

Despite the reform, the rate of use of fathers for parental leave “has hardly increased”. It went from 0.5% to 0.8% for full-time leave, compared to almost 14% for mothers. For part-time leave, i.e. employees who continue to work but reduce their working time, only 0.9% of fathers of a child (13.2% of mothers) and 1, 8% of fathers with two or more children took it. The objective of the reform has not been achieved. The reform has not made it possible to increase fathers’ recourse to parental leave allowance.

The objective of the reform was for the other parent, in this case the father, to take the last year, but also for this to allow mothers to return to the labor market more quickly. And that goal has been achieved. Many mothers benefited from parental leave, two years instead of three, and returned to their jobs after 24 months, under the conditions in which they had left it.

Why are so few fathers taking parental leave?

The first and most important cause is obviously the low amount of compensation offered. Regardless of the previous remuneration, the parent receives 399 euros per month for full-time leave, 258 euros for part-time leave and 149 euros for 80% of working time. It is true that that does not make the leave attractive for fathers. Parental leave inevitably leads to loss of income for the couple, and it is often the father who earns a better living. Couples tend to choose the one who earns less for parental leave, and it is often the mother.

For fathers who were already working part-time before the birth of their child, it is different, they would have nothing to lose by requesting part-time leave. In addition to their usual part-time income, they would receive an allowance of 149 to 258 euros per month. All fathers who work part-time were expected to take the part-time allowance, as it is a bonus, but 70% of fathers do not, compared to 25% of mothers in the same situation.

Do men consider parental leave to be gendered?

Yes, there is certainly a gender effect of parental leave. Some fathers say to themselves that this device does not concern them, that it is not intended for them, that it is a women’s affair, or they are dissuaded because they find that their male colleagues have recourse to it. not. And then, when we look at who takes care of the organization of family life around the arrival of a child, it is still often the mothers who manage. There is surely also a lack of awareness of their rights. Fathers are less aware of their rights, of what they can do about paternity.

What do you recommend to make this parental leave more attractive for fathers?

The issue of compensation seems to be the most important. It would therefore be necessary to review the amount, with compensation calculated in proportion to past wages, or a shorter leave which resulted in less loss of income. There should also be a more ambitious reform of parental leave, which must also include a reform of early childhood with schooling. Finally, a major campaign should be launched to inform and educate parents, especially fathers, about this leave system, to make it more visible, because it concerns both fathers and mothers. We must reduce the gender bias that affects this system.

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