Dutch parental leave too short, says Unicef

Parental leave in the Netherlands to look after new babies is too short and childcare is relatively expensive, according to a United Nations study of rich countries due to be published today, reports the NRC.

At just 16 weeks, paid maternity leave is one of the shortest in the European Union, the UN children’s organisation Unicef says. Fathers get two days at the birth of their child and parents can also take unpaid leave of up to 20 weeks before a child reaches the age of eight.
If the lack of leave means children are kept in day care for long hours, this could have negative effects on their development, the Unicef report is quoted as saying.
In November, family minister André Rouvoet presented plans to expand paid parental leave and make it more flexible. Most Dutch mothers work part-time.
In addition, childcare in the Netherlands is expensive, Unicef says.
It estimates Dutch parents pay on average 44% of childcare costs. If this was reduced, more people would be able to take advantage of it, Unicef says.
But the education ministry told the NRC that the UN organisation is basing its calculations on old laws, and that parents now pay an average of just 23% of the cost of a crèche place.
Nevertheless, the cabinet does plan to increase parental contributions to day care services next year.
The Netherlands did score well in terms of its general provisions for childcare and young school-going children. It was also praised for its special focus on children who do not speak Dutch properly.

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