Can a prime minister go on paternity leave?

Estonia's Prime Minister Jüri Ratas had a fourth baby last week. Then he returned to work only an hour after the birth. 

Marian Männi
Marian Männi Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Can a prime minister go on paternity leave? - NewsMavens
Jüri Ratas, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

When Jüri Ratas returned to work, everyone cheered. He was given flowers and a huge teddy bear. "It was tough, but my wife supported me," he joked.

It was time to submit the draft annual budget, so Ratas had to rush back to work from the hospital, leaving his wife, Karin Ratas, and the newborn behind.

Ratas couldn't even have a day of paternal leave. In Estonia, fathers can have ten working days off either before or after the birth of the baby and it can be taken in parts. Besides that, men also have the option of staying home with the baby instead of the mother. He would earn his full salary for around a year and a half.

"I thought about taking the parental leave," Ratas said to Eesti Ekspress. But looking at all the meetings planned ahead, it would be "a bit difficult".

Estonian parliamentary elections will be held in March. Ratas is also known for working extremely long hours. So his wife Karin will almost be a single mother of four until the end of her husband's term.

When the male Prime Minister has a baby, everyone congratulates him, but in reality, he probably doesn't have much time to be with his family. The mother of the baby, who often remains in the background and barely even gets the credit, will face the real hardship.

The PM's colleagues and supporters are patting him on the back as if he accomplished something great. He hasn't. His biggest contribution was to have sex with her. Should we praise him for this?

Details from the story:

  • Only one day before Ratas, his head of office Tanel Kiik, also had a baby.
  • Ratas said that during the time his wife had to stay at the hospital, the kids' grandparents helped him out.
  • Usually Ratas is the last one to leave the office. He is known for working very long hours.
  • Johannes Merilai, the advisor of Ratas, said that right now is a very "inconvenient time" in terms of work. The draft annual state budget has to be submitted the end of September.
  • "I must praise my wife, who has managed very well," Ratas did point out.
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