The EU Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, which entered into effect on 1 August 2019, focuses on promoting equality between men and women and addresses the underrepresentation of women in the labor market by establishing rights to paternity, parental and caregiver’s leave. EU member states were given a three-year transposition deadline which ends in August 2022.
The most significant changes introduced by the new legislation are the following.
A compulsory government-paid paternity entitlement of 10 working days (with an optional extra day if the mother gives up one day of her statutory maternity leave) was introduced on 1 January 2021 (2021 Lockton Compliance Alert). The new legislation amends and clarifies paternity leave requirements. Paternity leave was increased to 20 working days when the mother gives birth to multiples. Paternity leave cannot be transferred to any other parent and may be taken between two months prior to the expected birth to five months after the birth of the child, if the mother dies, or for adoptive or foster care placement. Paternity leave may be taken in conjunction with the mother’s maternity leave. Working fathers are required to give a five-day written notice (15 days previously) to their employer prior to taking the leave.
However, maternity leave can be transferred to the father if the mother dies, becomes seriously ill or abandons the child. In such cases, this leave is called “alternative” leave.
Employers who violate an employee’s right to paternity leave may face administrative penalties ranging from EUR 516 to EUR 2,582. Violation of alternative leave is subject to up to six months of imprisonment.
The new legislation extends parental leave for single parents from 10 to 11 months per child up to age 12. Parental leave for couples remains at 10 months. Parental benefits are equal to 30% of the employee’s daily earnings and are payable for six months (three months for each parent) per child under the age of 12 (previously age 6). The new legislation increases payment benefits for single parents to nine months instead of six months.
Parental benefits may continue to be payable to a child up to age 12 (previously 8), subject to income testing (the employee’s earnings must be less than 2.5 times the minimum pension). The minimum pension is equal to EUR 525.38 per month in 2022.
All other parental leave requirements in accordance with the Maternity Consolidation Act remain the same.
Flexible working arrangements
The new legislation mandates employers give priority to flexible remote working requests sent by the following category of employees:
- Disabled employees who are parents of children aged 12 or younger
- Employees who are parents of severely disabled children (regardless of their age limit)
- Employees who are caregivers of a disabled, sick or dependent family member
In addition, the new legislation extends the current employee right to convert their employment contract from full-time to part-time for workers caring for seriously disabled civil union partners and co-habitants as well as close relatives (spouse, parent or child).
The legislation also emphasizes that caregivers in general may not be discriminated against by the employer. Such employees may not be demoted, dismissed, transferred or subject to an organizational measure that has a negative impact on their working conditions. Any measure taken by an employer in violation of this rule will be considered as discrimination and will be null and void.
Employers should review the changes and ensure compliance by amending their HR policies and practices, employment agreements, and family-related benefits and policies as needed.