New fathers

New fathers in the Netherlands have precisely two days official paid paternity leave – which must be about the worst deal in Europe.

Hardly surprising then that efforts are being made to have it extended. There you are, a fresh new father, expected to bond with your offspring and be an instant dab hand at changing nappies.
But on the other, you are back to the office as normal, ignoring the fact you have probably hardly slept and there may well be baby sick down your back.
In a way, the lack of immediate leave for new dads made sense when every new mum had a maternity nurse around for much of the day.
But now maternity nurses are often allowed to do little more than whizz in, take everyone’s temperature and check the umbilical cord before moving on to the next job. There are a lot of useful things that new fathers could be doing.
Employers argue that giving fathers paid time of work would be too expensive, others say the Dutch have such long holidays that we can use some of those days off to spend time with the new arrival. And this is indeed true.
But by putting all the emphasis on paid maternity leave the government seems to be saying that dads don’t have a real role to do when it comes to babies. Apart from helping to create them that is.

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