The Swedish government has introduced a new rule into its social insurance scheme to help single parents who fall ill and cannot look after their child. The rule, which has been in force since 1 January 2010, allows another insured person (i.e. a person legally living and/or working in Sweden) who forgoes paid work to receive temporary parental benefit to look after the child. It applies to children up to the age of three. Previously temporary parental benefit was only available to the parents themselves or to a carer replacing the child’s regular carer if they were to fall ill.
Under the new rule, temporary parental benefit can be given to another insured person when a single parent is too ill to take care of their child/children. The rule applies to children up to the age of three and is payable for a maximum of 120 days per child per year. The benefit is allocated per child. So, if, for example, there are two children under three that need to be looked after, then two sets of payments are made. For adopted children, it applies until they are five years old. The aim of the new provision is to give single parents similar options for childcare as families with two parents have.
Currently, temporary parental benefit is available to any parent who needs to stop work and stay at home to look after a sick child under the age of 12 (in some cases 16) and when, for example, the child’s regular caregiver is ill. This benefit can be paid for 60 days per child per year. Once these days have been used up, the benefit can be paid for a further 60 days, which, however, may not be used in the event of the regular caregiver falling ill.
To be entitled to temporary parental benefit under the new provision, the parent has to be so ill that he or she can not care for the child. Asked if single parents need a medical certificate to prove that they are ill, Jessica Löfvenholm, Head of Section from the Social Insurance Division of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, said: ”Not always but if the National Social Insurance Agency need a medical certificate to be able to estimate the situation they can demand a medical certificate.”
Under the new rule, the temporary parental benefit is paid by the day and depends on the carer’s income. It corresponds to 80% of their income up to a maximum of 26,400 Swedish Krone per month (around €2,640). In 2009, the average amount of benefit paid out per day was 800 Swedish Krone (around €80). The benefit is paid out by Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency.
Contact: Jessica Löfvenholm