Leave and benefits for the parents of small children
As the parent of a small child, you have the right to certain types of family leave, such as maternity, paternity or parental leave. Remember to tell your employer in good time if you are taking leave and how long you will be away from work.
While on family leave you can receive family benefits from Kela or, in certain cases if you are employed, a salary. Remember also to apply to Kela for a maternity allowance and child benefit.
As the parent of a small child you are entitled to take certain types of family leave. These are special maternity leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, child care leave and temporary child care leave.
It may be possible to take partial child care leave following a period of maternity, paternity or parental leave if you have been with the same employer for at least six months during the past 12 months.
Under the law, pregnancy or parental leave are no grounds for dismissal. Following a period of leave, you have the right to return, in the first instance, to your former place of work. If this is not possible, your employer must offer you similar work or other work in line with your contract of employment.
Remember that you are under an obligation to tell your employer in good time that you are taking leave and how long you will be away from work. Read more about this below.
Maternity leave lasts 105 weekdays. Saturdays also count as weekdays. Expectant women can choose to start their maternity leave between 30 and 50 weekdays before the estimated due date.
Special maternity leave may, in certain circumstances, be taken earlier. It is for situations where the work of an expectant woman is such that it might pose a risk to the health of the foetus or the woman herself. The risks associated with work are assessed by the occupational health care services.
Parental leave is taken after a period of maternity leave. It lasts 158 weekdays. It can either be taken by one of the parents or it can be shared between both of them. A single mother caring for a child alone is eligible for a longer period of parental leave.
A father may only start paternity leave after the child is born. Paternity leave is for 54 weekdays. A maximum of 18 weekdays of paternity leave may be taken at the same time as the mother is on leave, and the rest not until after a period of parental leave is over. Paternity leave may also be taken in its entirety, but only after a period of parental leave is over. You must take your paternity leave before the child reaches the age of two. If more than one child is born to a family or adopted by a family at one time, a father is eligible for a longer period of paternity leave.
Temporary child care leave means leave taken because a child under the age of 10 has suddenly become ill.
Child care leave and partial child care leave are periods of leave where a child is looked after at home and can be taken after parental leave. Read more about child care leave and partial child care leave on Caring for a child at home page.
For periods of special maternity leave, maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave you may receive an earnings-related parental benefits, i.e. a special maternity allowance, maternity allowance, paternity allowance, parental allowance or partial parental allowance.
If you are employed, either privately or in public service, you may also receive for a certain period a salary. This is possible if there is an agreement in the collective agreement for your place of work on being paid a salary during periods of parental leave. Before you take family leave, check with your employer whether you can receive a salary while you are on leave.
If your employer pays you a salary while you are on family leave, Kela will pay your employer a family benefit for the equivalent amount of time. You therefore may not normally receive a salary and a benefit at the same time. An exception to this is where you receive a benefit from Kela and your employer pays you the difference between the benefit and the salary.
For a period of child care and partial child care leave you may receive a child home care allowance, a partial care allowance or a flexible care allowance. Some local authorities also pay a municipal supplement.
Apply to Kela for family benefits.
Halfway through her pregnancy, an expectant woman may also apply to Kela for a maternity grant, i.e. a maternity package or equivalent sum of money. To apply, you need a certificate of pregnancy, which you can get from a maternity clinic. Apply for a maternity allowance no later than two months before your estimated due date.
For a child under the age of 17, you may receive monthly child benefit. Payment of child benefit starts from the month following the birth of the child and continues until the end of the month in which the child reaches the age of 17. Apply to Kela for child benefit.
If you employ someone to look after a child under school age, and your child is not in municipal day care, you may also receive from Kela a child home care allowance or a private day care allowance. Read more about child home care allowance and private day care allowance on the Caring for a child at home page.
Family benefits are mainly paid based on the same principles, regardless of type of household. However, some benefits depend on whether the type of household is an adoptive, a multiple birth, a rainbow (LGBT) or a one parent family.
For example, adoptive parents are not entitled to a maternity allowance, but they do receive a parental allowance for a longer period. Mothers expecting more than one child receive a larger maternity allowance and also receive a parental benefit for a longer period.
With rainbow families the maternity allowance is only paid to a child’s biological mother. The same-sex partner of a biological mother may, however, receive a paternity allowance and a parental benefit. A single parent receives extra child benefit.
Ask Kela for information on benefits for different types of household.
If you take family leave for more than 12 weekdays at a time, tell your employer how long you will be on leave no later than two months in advance. For periods of family leave lasting no longer than 12 weekdays, you must tell your employer at least a month before the leave starts.
In certain circumstances parents may bring forward or change the dates of their family leave as previously notified at shorter notice. Such situations might relate, for example, to the birth of a child or the mother’s health. However, paternity leave may not be taken before the child is born. Tell your employer about the situation as soon as possible.
Check what has been agreed in the collective agreement for your industry concerning how much notice you have to give for taking family leave. For example, the payment of salaries while on maternity or paternity leave may well depend on whether you have kept to the longer periods of notice provided in the agreements.
If your child is under the age of 10 and suddenly becomes ill, you can take temporary child care leave. Remember to tell your employer as soon as possible. You must be able to prove that your child is ill by providing a medical certificate, for example, if your employer asks for one.
Temporary child care leave may be for no more than four days for each sudden period of illness. Parents can take turns looking after a child, but temporary child care leave may only be taken by one of them at a time. Parents alternating in this way will not mean they will be entitled to a longer period of child care leave.
You may not receive family benefit during a period of temporary child care leave. Ask your employer if your workplace will pay your salary while you are on temporary child care leave. You can also check the collective agreement for your place of work and what has been agreed for your industry. Nevertheless, your employer is not legally obliged to pay a salary for a period of temporary child care leave.
You continue to accrue annual leave during maternity, paternity and parental leave. Under the law, leave accrues for 156 weekdays during periods of leave. Annual leave does not generally accrue during periods of child care leave, however.
Longer periods of time during which holiday leave accrues may have been agreed, however, in the collective agreement for your industry. Check with your employer.
Holiday leave continues to accrue as normal if you take temporary child care leave because the child, who is under the age of 10, has suddenly become ill.
While you are unemployed you may take maternity, paternity or parental leave and receive a parental benefit. You may not, however, receive unemployment benefit and a parental benefit at the same time.
You can only take child care leave if you are employed. You may nevertheless receive a child home care allowance when you are unemployed. The child home care allowance you receive, however, is deducted from your total unemployment benefit.
If you are registered with a TE Office as an unemployed jobseeker and receive unemployment benefit, remember to inform the Office and the agency that pays your unemployment benefit that you intend to take family leave. The agency that pays your unemployment benefit may be an unemployment fund or Kela. The agency will tell you how taking family leave affects the benefits you receive.