The Finnish government has enacted a new policy that will offer both parents of newborn children equal leave time.

The change, which goes into effect in fall 2021, will give both parents of the child seven months of paid time off each. This gender-neutral policy will significantly increase the currently mandated leave periods, which stand at four months for mothers and two for fathers.

The time on offer is also designed to be flexible. Each parent can give up to 69 of their allotted days to their significant other if need be. Single parents are entitled to the full 14 months paid leave offered to couples. The pregnant parent can also use up to a month of pregnancy allowance at any time before the birth of their child.

In comparison, parental leave options in the U.S. are limited. Mothers are entitled to roughly three months of unpaid leave after their child is born. This is, however, only required by law for companies with 50 or more employees.

The most generous parental leave policy in Europe, conversely, can be found in Sweden. Swedish parents are each entitled to roughly eight months of paid leave, with up to 150 days transferable to the other parent.

The Finnish government, led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, 34, the world’s youngest PM, estimates that this change will cost 100 million euros ($110 million). Parental leave reform has been debated in Finland since 2018, but at that time, the government decided that the cost was too great.

The new policy is also aimed at addressing Finland’s decreasing birth rate by alleviating some of the professional hassles associated with having a child for both parents.

Finland saw only 45,597 births in 2019, the lowest since a famine struck the country in 1868.

Sanna Marin is Finland's youngest ever leader Sanna Marin is Finland's youngest ever leader Photo: Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa