Family leave - 1.8.2022 alkaen

the Employment Contracts Act, employees are entitled to take leave from work for the period in which they receive a pregnancy, special pregnancy or parental allowance. The purpose of family leave is almost always to care for the employee’s own child. However, family leave is also allowed for compelling family reasons, which means that the immediate presence of the employee is necessary because of an unforeseeable event suffered by their family.

Family leave may be taken by parents who live in the same household as the child. A parent of a child who does not live in the same household as the child is entitled to temporary child-care leave.

Family leave is a blanket term used when an employee:

  • takes pregnancy, special pregnancy or parental leave
  • takes part-time parental leave
  • takes child-care leave,
  • takes part-time child-care leave,
  • takes temporary child-care leave
  • is absent from work for compelling family reasons, or
  • is absent from work to take care of a family member or someone close to the employee
  • take informal care leave.

Employees are entitled by law to family leave but must also notify their employer as specified in the Act. However, in the case of parental leave or part-time child-care leave the employer may refuse leave in certain cases.

Earnings and benefits during family leave

Under the Employment Contracts Act, the employer is not required to pay wages for the duration of family leave. However, many collective agreements specify that wages must continue to be paid during pregnancy leave and short-term absences due to a child falling ill, meaning temporary child-care leave.

When the child is born and as they grow, the parents are entitled to various benefits paid by KELA. An employer who pays employees on leave wages and holiday pay or holiday compensation may apply to KELA for compensation. Further information is available on the KELA website:

Deadline for notification of leave

The employee shall notify the employer of pregnancy leave, parental leave or child-care leave at least two months before the intended start of the leave.

Special cases for notification of leave:

  • If the duration of the leave is no more than 12 weekdays, the period of notification is one month.
  • When giving notification of leave to care for an adopted child, the two-month notification period must be observed whenever possible.
  • If it is not possible to observe a two-month notification period due to a spouse beginning work or arrangements related to the provision of child care resulting from this, the employee has the right to take parental leave with a one-month notification period. However, this requires that this does not result in a serious inconvenience to operations of the employer. In the latter case, the employer must inform the employee of the grounds for refusal.

Unless otherwise agreed by the employer and employee, family leave may not be interrupted or its time changed except for a justifiable reason. This usually requires a significant change in the arrangements of caring for the child.

Points to note regarding changing the time of leave:

  • For a justified reason, the employee has the right to change the time and duration of the leave by notifying the employer no later than one month before the change takes effect.
  • The employee is entitled to take pregnancy leave earlier than intended and to change the time of leave intended to be taken in connection with childbirth if this is necessary because of the birth of the child or because of the health of the child or parent. In such a case, the employer must be notified of the change as soon as possible.
  • The parent of an adopted child has the right to change the term of the leave before the leave starts for a justified reason by notifying the employer as soon as possible.

Return to work after family leave

After family leave, the employee is principally entitled to return to his/her former job. If that is not possible, the employee must be offered equivalent work in accordance with their employment contract; and if that is not possible either, other work in accordance with their employment contract.

Accrual of annual holiday

An employee accrues annual holiday during pregnancy, special pregnancy, and parental leave, temporary child-care leave and leave for compelling family reasons or informal care leave. These accrue a maximum of 160 working days equivalent of annual holiday. Time equivalent to time spent at work is monitored for each birth or adoption, not according to the holiday credit years. 

An employee does not accrue annual leave, while on child-care leave. However, child-care leave does not interrupt the employee’s employment relationship, so the time of the child-care leave will be taken into account in calculating the duration of the employment. In other words, child-care leave will not decrease the number of holiday days accrued during the months when the employee is at work in that holiday credit year. If an employment relationship has lasted for over a year, the employee will continue to accrue 2.5 days of holiday per month while at work even if he/she takes part of the year off for child-care leave

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