Maternity leave can start no sooner than 50 weekdays before the estimated due date or 30 weekdays before it at the latest. If the child is born earlier than this, maternity leave begins at the birth of the child. Maternity leave is 105 weekdays regardless of when maternity leave starts. On the other hand, parental leave is extended from as many weekdays as the maternity leave began prior to the 30-day limit.
The law does not oblige the employer to pay for the period of maternity leave. However, most collective agreements determine that the employer pays full pay for the period of maternity leave for a certain time, often three months. Many collective agreements also provide for the employee’s right to pay during temporary nursing leave or a part of it. Most collective agreements also provide that a female employee who has adopted a child under school age is to be granted paid leave of three months equivalent to maternity leave, immediately related to the adoption.
The father of a child who lives in the same household as the mother has the right to paternity leave for a total of 54 weekdays.
Paternity leave cannot be taken for more than 18 working days while the mother of the child is on maternity or parental leave. The father can choose to take paternity leave during maternity and parental leave in 1–4 periods. The father can take the rest of his paternity leave in a maximum of two periods. If the father so wishes, he can take all his paternity leave after the maternity and parental leave. The right to paternity leave can be exercised until the child reaches the age of two.
An employee who has adopted a child under seven years of age is also entitled to paternity leave and Kela paternity allowance. If the employee adopts the child of his spouse or common-law partner (adoption within the family), the child must be under one year old.
The father has the right to take parental leave during the maternity allowance period and receive a daily allowance if the mother is unable to care for the child due to her illness. The mother’s illness must have lasted at least the waiting period for the daily sickness allowance (first day of sickness + nine weekdays). The father will receive daily allowance for a maximum of as many days as the maternity allowance was not paid. The daily allowance is determined by the income of the father and the leave taken by the father does not shorten the normal parental benefit period.
Parental leave begins from the end of maternity leave and lasts 158 working days. The parents can share the parental leave so that each have no more than two periods. Each period must be at least 12 weekdays. During parental leave, Kela’s parental allowance is paid to the parent caring for the child.
If more than one child was born or adopted at the same time, parental leave is extended by 60 working days for each additional child (up to a maximum of three children). A parent may choose to take a part or all of the extension of parental leave at the same time as the other parent is on maternity or parental leave.
During parental leave, parents can also work part-time and receive partial parental allowance for this period, provided that they meet the preconditions for it. Partial parental leave can be arranged by one parent working in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or by parents looking after the child on alternating days or weeks. Partial parental allowance paid to parents is calculated separately from the work income of each parent. It is half of the normal parental allowance.
Adoptive parents who have adopted a child under the age of seven are also entitled to parental leave and partial parental leave. If the employee adopts the child of his spouse or common-law partner (adoption within the family), the parental leave requires the child be under one year old.
Nursing leave refers to the employee’s right to be completely absent from work for the purpose of caring for the child until the child reaches the age of three. Nursing leave can be taken by both parents of the child, but not at the same time.
An employee can stay at home to care for their biological or adopted child, or another child permanently living in the same household, such as the child of a spouse or common-law spouse, or a child placed in the family or in the care of the family.
Either parent can choose to take two periods of nursing leave of at least one month. However, the employer and the employee can have some other mutual agreement on periods of nursing leave.
The employer is not obliged to pay salary during nursing leave, but Kela may pay home care allowance during nursing leave. Some municipalities also support child home care and private care with different municipal allowances.
The daily or weekly working hours of an employee who is on partial nursing leave have been shortened. This requires an agreement between the employee and the employer. You can be entitled to flexible home care basic allowance during partial nursing leave if the child is under three years of age. A parent of a child in the first and second grades of comprehensive school may receive partial home care basic allowance during partial nursing leave. An employee who has been employed by the same employer for a total of at least six months in one or more periods during the preceding 12 months is entitled to partial nursing leave.
Under the Employment Contracts Act, you are entitled to temporary nursing leave if your child, who is under the age of ten, or another child under the age of ten permanently resident in your household suddenly falls ill. A parent of a child who does not live in the same household has the same right. The maximum duration of temporary nursing leave is four weekdays. Its purpose is to arrange care for the child or to care for the child. Both parents can take temporary nursing leave during the same calendar period, but not at the same time.
You also have the right to a temporary absence from work if your presence is necessary due to an unforeseeable and compelling family reason following an illness or accident. Inform the employer of your absence and the reason for absence as soon as possible. At the employer’s request, you must provide a reliable explanation of the reason for the absence.
Most collective agreements provide short temporary leave. Short temporary leave means paid absence from work. It comes into effect when your family faces a sudden illness or your close relative dies. A short temporary leave is intended for the organisation of exceptional care. You should check the coverage of short temporary leave in your collective agreement. If there is a disagreement about granting a short temporary leave or its length, it is advisable to contact the shop steward or our employee counselling service.
You can be temporarily absent from work in order to care for a family member or another person close to you who needs special care. The arrangement is based on an agreement between you and the employee, which defines the duration of the absence. You are not absolutely entitled to this leave, but the employer must use the means at their disposal to arrange it. The employer is not obliged to pay wages during your absence.
After the leave to care for a family member or other close relative, you have the right to primarily return to your former work. However, the employer has the right to terminate the employment relationship for economic and productive reasons during your leave.
Early conclusion of a period leave to care for a family member or other close relative must be agreed upon. If you cannot reach an agreement with your employer, you have the right to suspend your leave for a justified reason by notifying the employer at least one month before returning to work.
If the calculated date of birth of the child was before 4 September 2022 or if the date of care of the adopted child was before 31 July 2022, the parents are entitled to maternity, paternity and parental leave under the old legislation:
Under the Employment Contracts Act, you are entitled to maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental leave, full-time and temporary nursing leave, and to absence from work due to a compelling family reason. Partial parental leave and partial nursing leave require an agreement with your employer.
Family leave is granted for the purpose of caring for a child. The right to absence for compelling family reasons is the only exception to this main rule.
Parents can flexibly share family leave between themselves. Parents living in the same household as the child are entitled to family leave. An employee can stay at home to care for their biological or adopted child, or another child permanently living in the same household, such as the child of a spouse or common-law spouse, or a child placed in the family or in the care of the family.
During family leave, the parent is paid maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental allowance in accordance with the Health Insurance Act. The daily allowance is calculated from the earnings of the parent on leave, which are determined primarily on the basis of the income confirmed for tax purposes. Further information on daily allowances and various forms of support is available from Kela’s office and its website.
You must notify your employer of maternity, paternity, parental, and nursing leave at least two months before the intended start of each period of leave. However, for leave of up to 12 weekdays, the period of notice is one month. Where possible, the above-mentioned notice periods also apply when notifying of leave for the care of adopted children.
If you cannot comply with the two-month notice period due to your spouse going to work and the consequential arrangements for childcare, you have the right to be on parental leave one month after the notice. However, this must not cause serious damage to the production and service activities of the workplace. If your employer considers that the one-month notice period is too short, they must give you an explanation for the refusal.
Special protection against dismissal applies during family leave. Under the Employment Contracts Act, you may not be dismissed for pregnancy or on the grounds that you are exercising your right to family leave. If an employer dismisses a pregnant employee or an employee on family leave, the pregnancy or family leave is considered to be the reason for the dismissal unless the employer can show other grounds for it.
While on family leave, you can be dismissed on economic and productive grounds only if the employer’s business activities stop altogether. Even then, a plan to close down operations is not enough to justify dismissal; the company’s activities and the employment relationship of the dismissed employee must end at the same time.
You are covered by normal employment protection after the family leave ends. The period of notice begins on the day on which the employee returns to work from family leave at the earliest.
According to the Annual Holidays Act, an employee accrues annual leave during special maternity, maternity, paternity and parental leave as well as temporary nursing leave and absence due to compelling family reasons. Nursing leave does not accrue annual leave.
Annual leave cannot be assigned for periods of maternity or paternity leave without the employee’s consent.
You have the right to return to your previous position after your family leave. If the position no longer exists, you must be offered another similar position. If there is no work, the general provisions of the Employment Contracts Act on the termination of an employment contract or layoff apply for the employer’s right to terminate or lay off the employee.