Father’s Day: 95% of fathers in Croatia do not use parental leave

NEWS 18.03.2022 18:00
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Source: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Ahead of Father's Day, 19 March, the Mamforce Standard and Status M associations warned that fathers becoming involved early in child care is valuable for the child's development, but that as many as 95% of fathers in Croatia do not use parental leave.

During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a major drop in the number of fathers on  parental leave – in 2019, 8.71% of fathers used parental leave, and in 2020 and 2021 around 4%, said Mamforce Standard founder Diana Kobas-Deskovic, noting that the situation had to be changed.

“Research points to the many benefits of father care for newborns and infants. They concern the child’s cognitive, social and emotional development and acquisition of skills important for problem solving,” she said.

The Croatian legislation is familiar with maternity and parental leave, and soon paternity leave will be introduced, to last at least 10 days from the child’s birth.

Maternity leave ends when the child turns six months old, after which parents can use parental leave that can last up to eight months if used by both parents or six if used by only one parent.

Men still perceived as main wage earners

The reasons why fathers decide not to use parental leave are many, from financial to mentality-related ones, as men are still perceived as primary wage earners even though the actual situation is different, Kobas-Deskovic said.

She believes clearer terminology, such as maternity, paternal, and parental leave and their systematic use would help increase the use of that benefit.

“Fathers are parents and it should become normal for them, just as it is for mothers, to go on leave intended for them,” she said.

The Status M association said fathers should take on an active role in parenting, thus taking over some of the burden of unpaid chores that are almost exclusively done by women and that prevent gender equality.

It welcomed the introduction of paternal leave, but expressed dissatisfaction with its short duration, calling on the Central State Office for Demography to consider the good practices of other European countries such as Spain or Sweden, where paternal leave lasts 80-90 days and is fully paid.

The association also believes that going on paternal leave should be obligatory for a certain period of the leave while the rest of the leave would be voluntary, the same way maternity leave is regulated.

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