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We have negotiated more equitably paid family leave

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The law sets the amount of family leave, but the extent to which that leave is paid is agreed in collective bargaining.

The law regulating the family leave reform entered into force last August. The law intends to make participation in the labour market more equitable by dividing parental leave more equally between parents. The law sets the amount of family leave, but the extent to which that leave is paid is agreed in collective bargaining. The collective agreements for senior clerical staff which previously applied to TEK members in the private sector gave mothers three months’ paid leave and fathers just one week.

The collective agreements renegotiated this spring will in future guarantee the birthing parent 40 paid working days off during pregnancy leave. They also guarantee each parent 28–36 working days of paid parental leave, depending on the collective agreement. In addition, the agreements take diverse families into account.

When it comes to the clauses of the collective agreements, now both parents can spend several paid weeks with their child.

This was a significant achievement. Equally clear, tangible benefits have been few and far between in collective agreements in recent years, if at all. Now, all senior clerical employees’ agreements promote the basic aim of the law: dividing parental leave more equally between both parents.

From the start of the negotiations, it was clear that employers were extremely sceptical of the demand. If paid parental leave was going to increase, they were going to demand changes to the agreements that benefited them financially in return. That is what happened in the end. Compensations vary somewhat from agreement to agreement. Naturally, this made the negotiations a degree more difficult. On the other hand, this logic meant that the increase in paid parental leave did not affect the level of pay rises.

TEK, together with other unions in YTN (the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff), succeeded where many other unions failed to get off the starting blocks. Of course, we expected that negotiations between employees and employers would make progress on the issue once we had broken ground in the private sector. TEK negotiates collective agreements for the private sector in collaboration with other Akava unions under the name YTN.

When it comes to the clauses of the collective agreements, now both parents can spend several paid weeks with their child. Neither of them is going to regret that later.