A study by the French Economic Observatory (OFCE) underlines that the reform of parental leave, which aimed for it to be taken by 25% of fathers, has largely failed, with less than 1% of fathers actually taking leave.
Since the 1er January 2015, parental leave only lasts two years for families with at least two children, and no longer three, unless the parents share it.
→ READ. Shorter or shared, here is the new parental leave
The aim of this reform was therefore to encourage fathers to share parental leave, for example by allowing a mother to stop working for two years, the father taking over the third year.
The need for “a more ambitious reform”
However, the study carried out by the OFCE shows that only 0.8% of fathers take parental leave, whereas they were already only 0.5% in the months preceding the entry into force of the reform.
According to the authors of the study, this failure is mainly due to the low compensation offered: € 399 per month for full-time leave, regardless of previous compensation.
They therefore consider it necessary “A more ambitious reform” to encourage fathers to take part of the parental leave, suggesting, as happens in Germany or the Nordic countries, that the allowance be calculated in proportion to the salary spent.
“Fathers believe that parental leave is a woman’s business”
The authors nevertheless stress that“Better compensation for parental leave would probably not be enough to increase fathers’ recourse”, implicating “A gendered effect of parental leave”.
“Fathers do not ask for this allowance either because they assume that they are not entitled to it, or because they consider that parental leave is a woman’s affair or because in their professional environment their male colleagues do not use it, which dissuades them from doing so ”, they say, without questioning the greater willingness of mothers to take care of their young children compared to fathers
The study nevertheless notes that one of the other objectives of the reform of parental leave, which also aimed at a better return of mothers to the labor market, was nevertheless achieved.
Decline in parental leave for mothers
“Before the reform, the arrival of a child was associated with a drop in the income of mothers of € 800 in the year of the child’s three years compared to their level two years before birth, ie 6% drop in their income, they note. After the reform, on the contrary, mothers’ incomes return to their initial level from the third year of the child. “
→ READ. Parental leave has fallen sharply since the 2015 reform
However, the figures cited show that this result seems mainly due to the fact that many women have given up taking parental leave from the child’s second birthday, because they are now forced to share it with their child. spouse. Thus, in December 2014, 21% of mothers had recourse to parental leave after the second child, but they were only 6% after the entry into force of the reform in January 2015. In addition, this parental leave during the the child’s third year is also shorter: 5.9 months instead of 9.4 months …
The study does not go so far as to question the effects of the reform of parental leave on the fall in the birth rate. However, if this had paused in 2014, it had precisely started to fall again in 2015, a consequence, according to demographers, of a reorientation of the policy marked in particular by the reform of parental leave, but also the setting under means-tested family allowances.