Taking additional partner leave is more expensive for people with an income around the minimum wage than for someone with an average income. Due to tax effects, their income falls much faster during leave, according to calculations by NRC.
Since last July, partners (fathers and ‘co-mothers’) are entitled not only to a week of fully paid leave after the birth of their child, but also to five weeks of ‘additional partner’s leave’, at 70 percent of their salary. The UWV benefits agency pays this.
For most people, this maternity leave results in a 20 percent net loss of income. But the lowest incomes will fall by around 30 percent due to negative tax effects. The disadvantage is greatest around the minimum wage (gross 1,701 euros per month). After that, the disadvantage gradually decreases to an income of about 10 percent above the minimum wage.
NRC made the calculations with the help of the online calculation tool CalculateHet.nl and had them checked by a financial expert.
Even before the introduction of this supplementary leave, there were concerns about its accessibility for people with low incomes. Trade unions, women’s rights organisations, MPs and the Council of State, the main government adviser, warned about the risk that parents with the lowest incomes would not make use of the scheme. However, they always assumed gross amounts.
According to Renske Keizer, professor of family sociology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, this discovery makes the arrangement “even less attractive” for people from a lower social class. “If you’re already having trouble making ends meet as a family, you’ll think twice about giving up more.”
The disadvantage is caused by tax effects. For minimum incomes, the ’employee discount’, a tax advantage, decreases much faster if their gross income falls than for average incomes.
A spokesperson for Minister Wouter Koolmees (Social Affairs, D66) acknowledges that minimum incomes have ‘relatively less benefit from the extra partner leave’. He points out that people with such an income can make use of all kinds of schemes, such as the child budget and allowances.
With the partner leave, the cabinet hopes, among other things, for a more equal distribution of care tasks between men and women. In the long run, this can have a favorable effect on the labor participation of mothers.
In the first half of the additional partner leave, the second half of 2020, almost 29,000 partners applied for the scheme. That was 20 percent less than what the UWV assumed. In that period, 87,000 children were born in the Netherlands, according to Statistics Netherlands. In the first half of this year, the benefits agency received almost 40,000 applications.
Also read: More time with your baby? That’s too expensive for these fathers
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of August 20, 2021