French fathers of newly-born children will be able to take two weeks' state-funded leave from next year, making France'spaternity provisionsthe most generous in the EU outside Scandinavia.
At present fathers in France can take three days paid leave when a child is born the same as in Britain. The French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, will announce the increase today, with a recommendation to employers that recent fathers should be allowed to take up to a month away from work by making use of days off generated by the recently installed 35-hour working week.
Speaking to the annual Family Conference in Paris, Mr Jospin will say that the new measures are intended to recognise and promote the increased responsibility for child-rearing taken by men in France.
The proposal 11 months before the presidential election is also intended to reinforce his centre-left coalition's flagging reputation as a caring and reforming government.
Christine Castelain-Meunier, a French sociologist and specialist on fatherhood, described the measure "as the beginning of a revolution in the patterns of family life. The state is recognising for the first time that the man also has a role to play in the home and in the family and in the care for an infant child." Based on the take-up for similar schemes in Nordic countries, the French government expects only two in five fathers to accept the leave in full.
The family allowance section of the social security budget funded by levies on employers and employees will pay the wages of fathers on leave up to to a maximum of £375 a week.
The total cost to the social security budget will be between £70m and £100m a year. The French employers' federation has protested that increased leave justified though it may be should not become an additional burden on the already high social charges on business.
Swedish fathers have had the right to 40 days state-paid paternity leave since 1980. The Finns have 18 days, the Danes two weeks, the Portuguese five days and the British, Germans, Spanish and Italians three days.Reuse content