Next year, expecting parents in Iceland will have to choose whether to shorten their parental leave by one month or accept a 17 percent cut to the monthly payments from the Childbirth Leave Fund while taking leave from work to stay at home with their newborns.
Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Payments from the Childbirth Leave Fund will be cut by ISK 1.2 billion (USD 9.8 million, EUR 6.5 million) in total next year, visir.is reports.
Initially, authorities planned to lower the maximum monthly payment from ISK 350,000 to ISK 300,000 (USD 2,700-2,500, EUR 1,900-1,600) and that the payments would never be higher than 75 percent of salaries higher than ISK 200,000 (USD 1,600, EUR 1,100).
These plans have now been changed and the parental leave will instead be shortened by one month, from nine to eight (currently, three months are reserved for the mother, three for the father and the remaining three months are shared).
As of next year, the shared period of parental leave will be two months. However, parents will be entitled to one month of additional parental leave in understanding with their employers when their child is two or three years old.
If parents are not satisfied with shortening the parental leave, they can take the full nine months immediately, but must instead accept 17 percent lower payments from the Childbirth Leave Fund.
In an interview on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós on Monday evening, Gudlaug Eianrsdóttir, chairwoman of the Midwives’ Association of Iceland, criticized the shortening of the parental leave, arguing that the food safety of infants is being jeopardized.
It is recommended that infants only feed on breast milk for the first six months, Einarsdóttir explained, which could become difficult to fulfill if the mothers have to start working full time after only five months at home with their babies.
Click here to read more about the initial plan for lower payments from the Childbirth Leave Fund.