- Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Sweden isn’t just good at helping parents care for their babies, as demonstrated by its generous parental-leave policies.
A local Swedish official also wants to help people create those babies.
Per-Erik Muskos, a councilman from the small town of Övertorneå, has announced plans to give the municipality’s 550 employees paid time off to have sex.
“There are studies that show sex is healthy,” Muskos told AFP, adding that couples in Sweden weren’t spending enough time together. “It’s about having better relationships.”
As in many developed countries, Sweden’s fertility rate has been gradually falling for the past several decades. In 1960, according to World Bank data, Swedish women had an average of 2.2 children – a rate scholars call “replacement fertility,” as it tends to keep the population steady. But by 2014 the rate had fallen to 1.9 children per woman.
Övertorneå’s population has been dwindling for at least the past decade. Municipality data shows the population in 2005 was 5,229. Ten years later it was 4,711.
Muskos’ plan for paid sex breaks, however, is really just a proposal to amend an existing work break given to employees for fitness and exercise. Employees already get one paid hour off each week to work out; Muskos is suggesting they should also be allowed to go home and have sex during that time. He said sex was often a form of exercise “and has documented positive effects on well-being,” though employees could, of course, abuse the benefit and just work one hour less.
Sweden is no stranger to innovation at the workplace. For the past two years, a group of nursing homes ran an experiment involving shortened workweeks. Staff members had to log just 30 hours a week – an average of six hours a day. Though employees were happier, the government ultimately decided it was too expensive a change.
Then, of course, there’s the parental leave. Sweden is far and away the most generous country when it comes to paid time off for new parents. A couple can split 480 days however they choose and receive 80% of their normal pay during that time. Ninety of those days are reserved just for fathers, and none of the time expires until the child turns 8.
Research into worker productivity suggests employees would be better off if more governments or companies took cues from Sweden. People with more time to spend with family tend to be happier and do better work.
As for Muskos’ motion, he told AFP he saw no reason it wouldn’t pass, except that officials may not place enough trust in the town’s employees.
But even here, Sweden has statistics on its side: The country has some of the highest levels of trust in the world.