The Research Results on Active Fatherhood Presented in Varaždin
I explored the possibility of using parental leave after my daughter turned 14 months old. It was a unique experience. My advice to all fathers is that, if they have the opportunity, definitely use their parental leave and spend time with their child – said Tomislav Sokolić, father of two children and assistant head of the Administrative Department for Spatial Planning and Construction of Varaždin County, at the presentation of the project and research results on Active Fatherhood in the Varaždin County Palace.
It is a project implemented by the MODE1 association with the financial support of the Central State Office for Demography and Youth that aims to educate fathers about the new legal possibilities of using parental and paternity leave and to improve their capacity to take on a more active parental role.
In Croatia, only 4 percent of fathers currently take parental leave
– reported the president of the MODE1 association, Dianna K. Descovich.
Croatia has a very good legal framework, which is among the four best in the world, regarding the use of leave as well as the financial part. We have maternity leave for the first six months of the child’s life and then parental leave after the sixth month, which is divided into 4 + 4 months for moms and dads. However, two months of that are non-transferable, so the fact that only 4 percent of fathers use parental leave means that 96 percent of children are left without the possibility to spend two additional months with their fathers – stated Descovich.
She explained that parental leave can be used up to the child’s 8th year of age, in which case it can be combined with so-called flexible work engagement, which means that it is possible to work part-time and partially be on parental leave.
It is good that the newly introduced paternity leave, which is completely voluntary, is used by a significant number of fathers—more than 80 percent of them. At the same time, finances are a significant factor because paternity leave, just like the first six months of maternity leave, is paid 100 percent. Additional parental leave is currently limited to 995 euros per month, which only applies to those whose average salary is lower. This is precisely one of the main reasons given why fathers do not use parental leave to a greater extent. Another reason, no less significant, is cultural expectations—what colleagues and bosses will say and how they will accept it. In that part, we have a lot of room for improvement – said Dianna K. Descovich.
Dianna K. Descovich (MODE1)
Dragica Ratković, president of the County Commission for Gender Equality and mayor of Varaždinske Toplice, agreed with this.
Just as the research results showed, in the younger generations, it can be seen that both parents take care of their children equally. This can best be seen outside, for example, on children’s playgrounds. Today, we live a fast-paced lifestyle, but it’s not bad that it “forced” us to divide the care of children more equally between mothers and fathers – said Dragica Ratković.
Dragica Ratković (Grad Varaždinske Toplice)
An example of good practice was presented by Etelka Kožar, Human Resources Manager at SICK Mobilisis, a company that is the holder of the MAMFORCE Standard, which confirms that they implement family-friendly and gender-aware human resource management policies.
SICK Mobilisis joined MAMFORCE in 2021. Since we employ numerous young professionals, our task is to provide them with successful career growth that simultaneously supports quality participation in the parental role. Accordingly, the certification process helped us to work even more actively and focused on adapting business processes through which we strengthen gender equality and diversity in the work environment and ensure practices for establishing a balance between business and private life. We employ more men than women—75 percent of them. In the last two years, we have “loosen” certain work arrangements so that our employees can work more at home or from another place and take care of the family much more – said Etelka Kožar.
Etelka Kožar (SICK Mobilisis)
The holder of the MAMFORCE Standard since May this year is Varaždin County, where an increasing number of fathers use parental leave. Among them is Kruno Šenbaum, the father of one daughter.
I used parental leave, in agreement with my wife, from the ninth month of the child’s life. Although I was a little scared at the beginning, everything went well, and it was a wonderful experience – said Kruno Šenbaum.
Let’s add that the goal of the project “Active Fatherhood” is to encourage employers to adopt and implement management practices that encourage fathers to use benefits intended to fulfil family obligations and facilitate their equal participation in family care through direct awareness raising by employers, the development of educational tools for employees, and systematic measurement and monitoring of effects through the MAMFORCE© and DADFORCE© Standard certification processes. Likewise, the project contributes to public awareness and the improvement of public policy in this area by providing empirical data on the basis of which effective goals and methods can be defined and by launching a public campaign on equal parenting.