My son had the stomach flu recently and all of us were affected. My spouse and me, who both work full-time, were without childcare for three days. This left us with no childcare for the entire time. We had to manage our meetings and high-pressure workloads simultaneously while trying to push Pedialyte.
Lucky for us: We both have flexible jobs and unlimited vacations. What if you don’t have this setup? Even if your salary is a fixed income, does it make sense for parents to use vacation days or worse, lose their pay to care for a sick child?
Enter Sweden’s Vard av Barn (VAB) policy. If a child is sick, parents can choose to take a VAB Day. This allows them to receive 80 percent of their wages, which is capped at $120 per day. It’s an alternative to taking vacation or unpaid leave, or trying to work while their child watches. This policy, which has been in place since 1974, is a Swedish law. The state pays the bill.
Sweden allows parents to take 120 VAB days per year. This is for one child. This policy is in effect until your child is 12 years old. After eight consecutive days, a doctor’s note will be required. Do you work for yourself? You can also work for yourself.
Sweden is well-known for its family-friendly policies, such as subsidized childcare or 480 days of paid leave that are gender-neutral. But this level of compensation takes the cake. The idea that a parent caring for a sick child requires time off is so common in Sweden, there is a term for it: att vaba. “Where is Donna?” “She’s a vabba,” which is slang for at-home administering Tylenol or running the humidifier. Some Swedish workplaces have an Slack status.
A contender for global consideration? Yes, please.