France wants to require fathers to take parental leave


In this image made from UNTV video, French President Emmanuel Macron speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, at UN headquarters. The U.N.’s first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from some of the planet’s biggest powers, kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic that will likely be a dominant theme at their video gathering this year. (UNTV via AP)

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PARIS (AP) — France’s president wants to expand paternity leave to one month — and require fathers to take time off with their newborns.

President Emmanuel Macron announced the plan on Instagram before visiting a child-care facility on Wednesday.

“When a baby arrives in the world, there is no reason it should be only the mom who takes care of it. It’s important to have greater equality in sharing responsibilities,” Macron said, noting the importance of the “intimate” moments early in a child’s life.

Currently fathers or other partners in France can take up to 14 days off work after the birth of a child. Macron’s government wants to expand that to 28 days, with daily allowances paid by the French state health insurance system — and to make it obligatory for at least a week.

New French mothers are entitled to at least 16 weeks of leave for a first child with daily allowances from the state. From the third child onward, they are allowed 26 weeks. In all cases, they must take at least eight weeks.

Several European countries have more extensive parental benefits than France, though obligatory maternity or paternity leave is unusual.

Seeing men pushing strollers is a common sight in Sweden, where new parents are entitled to 480 days of paid leave, and each parent has the exclusive right to 90 of those days. Other European countries have a similar system where partners can share parental leave.

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