It was a great promise from President François Hollande, a flagship measure of the law on gender equality, in 2014: to reform parental leave so that it is better shared between father and mother. (Almost) complete failure, confirms a study by the French Economic Observatory (OFCE) published on Wednesday.
The figures are clear: before the reform, 0.5% of fathers took full-time parental leave; after the reform, the rate rose to… 0.8%! While the goal posted at the time was to achieve a rate of 25% of fathers taking parental leave. Worse: according to a report from the Social Affairs Inspectorate (IGAS), the reform reduced the number of beneficiaries to 272,000 fathers and mothers at the end of 2018, or 43% less than before the reform.
Why this failure? Remember that the law, still in force, modifies the duration and distribution of parental leave. For a first child, the duration goes from six months, to be shared between the two parents, to six months for each parent. From the second child, the duration is three years, but limited to two years for a single parent, forcing the other parent to take a year if he wants to use the full right.
€ 398.80 per month
Ideally, this makes sense. But this is to forget what the IGAS report already underlined: this reform, adorned with good intentions, was “inspired mainly by budgetary considerations”.
The proof: the reform maintained the allowance received by the parent at a very modest level of around a third of the minimum wage (currently € 398.80 for a full-time person). It would have been better, according to the OFCE, to create an allowance proportional to the salary, as in Germany (67% of the salary, with a cap).
The reform has had another effect, which everyone will judge whether it is positive or negative: by reducing the maximum duration for a parent to two years, it has in fact led mothers to resume their jobs sooner… or their unemployment. This obviously increased the participation rate of women, which was the other objective of the reform.
Should we review this device? Emmanuel Macron had blocked in 2018 a European directive instituting for fathers a parental leave of four months supported by the company – “potentially exorbitant”, had judged the French president. On the other hand, it increased paternity leave (different from parental leave) to one month – the measure comes into force on 1is next july.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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