Managing childcare around parental work responsibilities is for a many an expensive juggle of office hours, nursery costs and limited availability. But in Sweden there seems the almost enviable situation of having great employment opportunities for working mothers, supported by flexible working hours and leave for both parents.
No wonder it often ranks highly as one of the best countries to bring up children. A survey in 2015 rated it third in the world for availability of childcare and education, cost of childcare and education, quality of education and family well-being. It was only beaten by Austria and Finland.
Sweden’s childcare principles are based around the idea that family life is very important. In order to support that family life, the state provide excellent facilities for children, so both parents can earn a salary. Women are actively encouraged to return to work and for the most part, many of them do.
In 2014, 73.1% of women were employed in Sweden, which was close to that of men, which is 76.5%. In fact, measured in 2014 again the employment rate of mothers with children under the age of 6, stood at 79.2% is the third highest in the EU.
The childcare benefits kick in as soon as the baby is born. Swedish parents are offered long, paid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. In fact, parents are given 480 paid leave of which 390 days allow for 80% of salary being given. The remaining days are paid at a flat rate. Parents are also allowed to ask for flexible working rights and can legally work shorter hours. Men and women can share the parental leave in whatever way they feel most suitable.
In the UK the rights are very different. Women are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks (365 days) statuary maternity leave. Rates are dependent upon separate employment contracts. See here for more information.
After a year, parents can send their children to preschool, where all children are offered and guaranteed a place. The preschools are open from 6.30am-6.30pm and can also function around shifts, nights and weekend roles. When children reach the ages of 3-6 years, childcare provision is free for up to 15 hours a week. Before this time, costs are based upon a parent’s income and can be up to 3% of their salary. The Swedish government also provides a monthly child allowance which many parents offset against childcare fees. To see how much your Swedish income affords you in terms of benefits check here.
Schooling continues to be free for children from the ages of 6-19, with free school lunches added to the mix. University is also free to Swedish residents and those from the EU.
Of course, there is a price to be paid for all of this free or heavily subsidzed childcare. The Swedes can pay up to 30% of income tax on their salaries. Those that earn over 591,600 Krona (around £52,000) pay the top rate. In contrast with many countries, Swedes almost welcome – or tolerate – high taxes as they see them helping the society in which they live. If you want to find out more about living in Sweden, and whether you drink as much coffee as the average population, see here.
If you are considering a move abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.
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