Home with baby
To begin with parental leave, pregnant women may take leave four weeks prior to giving birth. After the child is born, the mother is entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave (the first two weeks of which is obligatory), and the father is entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave during the first 14 weeks.
After this initial 14-week period, the parents are entitled to an additional 32 weeks leave, which they can freely divide between them. For example, both of them can take 16 weeks off (either at the same time or consecutively), or one of them (usually the mother) may stay home for the whole period. In reality the latter is most often the case; according to statistics an average Danish father only takes 3,4 weeks of paternity leave, while a mother spends 42, 3 weeks home with her baby. There is growing consensus in society that something ought to be done about this disparity, perhaps by forcing fathers to take a more active role in childcare – more on that in my next entry.
Back to parental leave, parents may save an 8-to-13-week period for later, but not later than the child’s 9th birthday. Conditions for adoption and multiple (i.e. twin) births are similar. In other words, getting twins do not entitle one to longer leave. In short:
- 4 weeks leave for the mother before giving birth
- 2 weeks leave for the father after birth (during the first 14 weeks)
- 14 weeks leave for the mother after birth
- 32 weeks leave that can be divided between the parents
All in all, a parent can be home with the baby for almost a year. During this period she is entitled to parental benefits, currently 3515 DKK per week before tax.
The system as described so far only covers the minimal entitlements, as prescribed by the law. Many employers offer better conditions to their employees. These typically mean longer leave and/or full pay for some of the period. Ane, for example could already take leave 8 weeks before Tristan was due, and received her full salary instead of parental benefits for the first 24 weeks.
Baby in care
What this all adds up to is that most children in
The three most typical forms of childcare are (1) day nurseries, (2) private or communal day care, and (3) employing a nanny. Day care is usually run by a single child-minder who looks after 3-4 children in her own home. She is normally in a contractual relationship with the local authorities, who also inspect whether her home meet fire- and health and safety regulations. Nurseries and day care are costly affairs, and some families therefore opt to employ a nanny, typically a young girl in her late teens or early twenties. Nannies normally don’t live with the family, but work there only during the week.