Which countries in Europe offer the most paternity leave?

Which countries in Europe offer the most paternity leave?
By Emma Beswick
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Excluding Switzerland, all fathers residing in European countries receive some form of leave but which offers the most?


More than 40 well-known male personalities in France have signed a petition to introduce “compulsory” paternity leave.

It will be presented to French President Emmanuel Macron and three of his ministers.

Among those who signed the petition, launched by the magazine ‘Causette’, are writer Frédéric Beigbeder, economist Thomas Piketty and songwriter Vincent Delerm.

Paternity leave in Europe

Excluding Switzerland, all fathers residing in European countries receive some form of parental leave, but in France, writes Le Parisien, only four percent of men use their allotted leave.

On the other hand, 68 percent of them take advantage of the 11 days “welcome” leave offered by the State, which is compensated up to a maximum of 84 euros per day.

“Eleven days for the birth of a baby is ridiculous,” reads’s signature collection page, as it is not “enough for a real first encounter between the child and his father”.

“We ask, at least, that these 11 days are not optional, but compulsory, and are paid the same as maternity leave would be.”

The long-term goal is to extend this period to six weeks and would be a step towards “achieving equality between men and women,” the magazine writes.

The proposal also seeks to “limit the impact of maternity on women’s careers” stating that “if men invest as much as women in childcare, mothers would be less professionally penalised, both in recruitment and career advancement”.

Here’s how maternity-leave allowances differ across Europe

Minimal paternity leave

Italian dads receive just two days of compulsory leave for the baby’s birth and two days of optional leave, paid at full salary.

Fathers in Greece, Malta and Holland are on the lower end of the scale along with Italy and only have the right to two compulsory days leave.

Average paternity leave

In Spain this year the paternity leave passed from two to four weeks, which put them ahead of the United Kingdom where fathers can enjoy 14 days with their newborns

Longer paternity leave

In Germany, men can stay at home for up to 14 months with a 67% salary.


Nordic countries also lead the way, with Norway offering fathers almost one year (46 weeks at 100 percent salary, or 56 weeks at 80 percent.)

This time off is allocated evenly with 10 weeks for the mother, 10 for the father and the rest to be divided between the two.

Swedish parents get 12 months, which are to be shared between the two parents, with two months minimum for both the mother and the father.

In 2010, the European Parliament tried to bring in legislation that would make 15 days paternity leave compulsory, which was then rejected by the European Council.

Deputies returned with a new attempt in 2016, which was again rejected, according to Le Parisien.


Here’s how paternity leave differs across Europe

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