OSLO, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- The watchdog of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) has said Norway's rules on paid parental leave are discriminatory against fathers, public broadcaster NRK reported Wednesday.
In a reasoned opinion sent to the Norwegian government on Wednesday, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) said, "several provisions in Norwegian legislation on paid parental leave are discriminatory on grounds of sex."
Norway has failed to fulfill its obligations towards the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) by maintaining in force provisions which render the father's entitlement to paid parental leave dependent upon the mother's work situation whilst this is not the case in reverse circumstances, ESA said.
It is also problematic that the amount paid to the father during the shared period depends on the mother's employment situation, according to ESA.
If the mother works less than 75 percent, the father's payment shall be calculated on the basis of her professional participation, not his own. These regulations do not apply the other way round to women.
According to Norwegian National Insurance Act, both parents have an individual, reserved right to ten weeks paid parental leave. In addition, there is a shared period of 49 weeks, or 59 weeks at reduced rate, which they may divide amongst themselves as they want.
In 2016, some Norwegian fathers complained to the ESA because they were not entitled to any paid parental leave from the shared period due to the fact that their wives were not working or studying full time.
The ESA has given Norway two months to change practice. In case the Norwegian authorities fail to comply with EEA rules, the case may end in the EFTA Court.
Norwegian Minister of Children and Equality Solveig Horne told NRK that Norway sent a letter to the ESA last year arguing that the country's parental leave scheme is not contrary to EEA law.
Norway's parental benefit scheme is "very good and generous", making it possible for parents to stay home with the child in the first year, she said.