The Maternity and Parental Support Act is the main legal instrument regulating the entitlement of parents and guardians to leave and financial support. The currently applicable act entered into force in July 2008 and has so far been amended and supplemented six times.
The purpose of leave and financial support is to enable parents to care for a child, to protect maternity, secure equality between parents regarding their rights and obligations, and to maintain financial and social security in the household.
The latest amendments to the Act, which should enter into force on 1 August 2022, transpose the Directive (EU) 2019/1158 on work-life balance for parents and carers into national legislation and aim to further foster equality between parents. It is expected that granting more parental rights will increase the birth rate and social wellbeing of families by improving the quality of life of future users.
This is why the latest amendments introduce, among other things, the new right of an employed or self-employed father to 10 working days of paid paternal leave after the child is born (15 working days in case of twins, triplets or simultaneous birth of more children). The leave can be used any time before a child turns six months, is independent of any potential parental right the child’s mother uses and cannot be transferred to another person. While using the paternal leave, a father is entitled to a salary remuneration that will usually be equal to his average salary over the previous six months.
In addition, the remuneration parents are entitled to during parental leave (i.e. after a child turned six months), the various forms of part-time work and the leave due to a child’s death, will all be significantly increased.
In order to increase the flexibility with which a parent can exercise the right to parental leave and adapt it to the parents’ personal and family needs, a novelty is introduced that makes it easier for parents not only to exercise the rights individually, but also simultaneously or alternately, in accordance with a mutual agreement.
It remains to be seen whether the amendments will indeed contribute to improving the work-life balance of working parents and increase the number of fathers taking advantage not only of the newly introduced paternal leave, but parental leave in general.