If you are coming from the USA, where companies usually give between 14 to 90 days of mostly unpaid maternity leave, you might be thinking you are in ‘maternity-leave-heaven’. Well the truth of the matter is, you are!
As a new mum, I have learned that although the benefits are fantastic, it is not easy navigating through Försäkringskassan’s (the authority that handles parental leave benefits) rules and regulations. The system is seemingly based on a combination of strict rules and very loose guidelines. This is a combination that can leave one confused, irritated and on the phone to Försäkringskassan on almost a weekly basis.
But what does this mean for you? Well it means that as long as your case is 100% straight forward things will generally move along with great efficiency and ease. But if your parental leave claim lands in one of the many grey areas, things start to become much more complicated.
So first let’s cover the basics.
Parental leave basics:
Who’s eligible for parental leave?
To be eligible for basic benefits (180 SEK a day for 480 days) you must be a legal resident of Sweden and under the Swedish social security system.
Who pays for parental leave?
Your employer does not cover the cost of your parental leave benefit, instead the Swedish Social Insurance Administration (Försäkringskassan) pays out the benefits.
Language you should be aware of:
- Parental leave: föräldraledighet
- Maternity leave: mammaledighet
- Paternity leave: pappaledighet
How many days will I get?
How many parental leave days are you entitled to?
Parents are entitled to 480 days of parental leave for each child. If you have twins you are entitled to an additional 180 days.
How are these days divided between parents?
Parents are encouraged to split these days equally between them.
However, it is possible for one parent to take up to 390 days of the 480 days. To do this the other parent has to ‘transfer’ these days to the other parent.
The only exception to this rule is for single parents with sole custody. In these cases, the parent can take all 480 days leave.
Can both parents take parental leave at the same time:
Yes. During the first 3 months of the new baby’s life, the father is entitled to be home for 10 days. These days are in addition to the 480 parental leave days.
In addition to these first 10 days, both parents are able to be home together for 30 days during your child’s first year. These are called ‘double days’ because you get 2 days of parent leave deducted – one day for each parent.
As of January 2019, the second parent can take general parental leave from the sixtieth day before the due date, to join his/her partner during prenatal visits at Mödravårdscentralen (MVC). Parental leave can also be used for school and preschool introduction, also known as inskolning.
Can an employer deny parental leave?
No. Parental leave is a legal right for all parents in Sweden. This means a company cannot deny your request for leave for any reason. In addition to the 480 parental leave days per child, companies are also bound to allow you to reduce your working hours by an additional 25%.
Note: You can reduce your working hours up to 25% even if your parental leave days have been used up, however, you will not be compensated for these reduced working hours.
Let’s Talk Money
How much money?
Now things start getting much more complicated. Your parental leave payment really depends on your personal circumstances, your immigration status, the amount of days you have been living and/or working in Sweden, your salary, and whether you have been working for the last 240 days.
Basic Level of Benefit (even if you have not worked in Sweden)
As long as you are a legal resident of Sweden you are entitled to the basic parental leave payment which is 250 SEK a day. This means you are eligible even if you have not been earning money in Sweden prior to your child’s birth. However, if you are receiving parental benefits from other countries, this amount will be docked from your Swedish benefit.
Parent leave payment range:
If you are a legal resident of Sweden, have been legally working here for the last 240 days then in most cases you will be entitled to 80% of your salary for the first 420 days of your parent leave. The maximum daily payment is capped at 1006 SEK a day.
SGI – Sjukpenningsgrundande inkomst
The term stands for the income on which sick pay and other benefits is calculated. The SGI is a sum calculated by Försäkringskassan based on your income and that is the foundation of how much money you can get if you are for instance on parental leave or home with a sick child.
You should also bear in mind that there is a an upper limit to your SGI. Better explained, your SGI equals your monthly salary x 12. BUT, there is an upper limit for an SGI. So if your salary is higher than the upper limit, you will not get 80% of your salary when you, for instance go on parental leave, instead you’ll receive 80% of your SGI. In 2020 the upper limit of the SGI was 378 400 SEK.
In the instance that you have not yet worked 240 days in Sweden, before going on parental leave, you will receive 250 SEK per day (data from 2019).
When will you get paid:
Parental benefits are paid out between the 25th & 27th of the month.
Can I work while on parental leave?
Working while taking parental leave:
A person cannot work full-time and also take parent leave benefits. However, you can work part-time and take parental leave the rest of the time.
How can parental benefits be paid out:
The system is very flexible, so the parental benefits can be paid out for full days, half days, quarter days or even one-eighth of a day.
Parents can also get state compensation when they need to take time off work to look after a sick child. This is valid for parents of children up to 12, and sometimes for children up to 16, depending on the circumstances.
How to get in touch with Försäkringskassan:
To claim your benefits and to find out how much you are entitled to in your particular circumstances, contact your local branch of Försäkringskassan.
You can reach their Customer Center at 0771524524
Information in English: www.forsakringskassan.se/sprak/eng
Original article Morgan Erickson
Research by Carmel Heiland
Edited by Nina Uddin
Photography by Karen Lundquist -Stockholm portrait photographer