The Estonian Parliament approved amendments at the end of 2017 enhancing the statutory benefits provided to fathers and parents of multiples. The reform, which enters into force gradually from March 2018 to July 2020, extends parental leave and provides a more flexible parental benefits system.
Parental leave and benefits in Estonia are among the most generous in the world. Fathers currently have 10 days of state-paid paternity leave to be taken within two months of the child’s expected or actual birth, and parents can share up to 435 days of parental leave, by turns, until the child reaches the age of three. Despite this generous system, the share of fathers receiving parental benefits in Estonia remains very low. The new reform aims at encouraging the participation of both working parents in the education and development of their children.
Beginning 1 March 2018, parental benefits are no longer reduced if the parent receiving the benefit earns extra income not greater than half of the maximum parental benefit amount. In other words, there will be no reduction in state parental benefits if the recipient earns no more than EUR 1,544 per month in 2018. If the recipient earns more than that amount, the benefit will be proportionately reduced, but it will not be lower than EUR 470 per month.
Beginning 1 March 2018, parents of triplets and larger multiple births receive an allowance of EUR 1,000 per month until the children are 18 months old.
From 1 July 2020, paternity leave will be extended from 10 to 30 days and can be taken more flexibly than before. Fathers will be able to divide the enhanced leave into shorter periods and take the leave at any time from 30 days before the expected birth until the child reaches three years of age. Paternity leave can be taken at the same time the mother is on maternity or parental leave.
Employers should monitor the implementation timeline of the reform and update their policies accordingly.