Pregnancy leave, parental leave and childcare leave

An employee has the right to a leave of absence from work due to pregnancy, childbirth or childcare and receive the following benefits referred to in the Health Insurance Act:

  • Pregnancy allowance days (pregnancy leave)
  • Special pregnancy allowance days (special pregnancy leave)
  • Parental allowance days (parental leave)

The duration and time of the leave are determined based on the right to pregnancy allowance, special pregnancy allowance and parental allowance under the Health Insurance Act.

Pregnancy leave

The pregnant parent is entitled to a pregnancy leave. Its duration is 40 working days and must be taken as an uninterrupted period. Pregnancy leave usually begins 30 working days before the estimated date of delivery. It is also possible to agree later with the employer of the start the pregnancy leave, but no later than 14 working days before the estimated date of delivery. 

The right to special pregnancy leave is granted if the employee has to be absent from work before the start of the pregnancy leave because her job or working conditions involve chemical substances, radiation or contagious disease or some other, similar factor that would endanger the health or the pregnant person or the foetus.

Parental leave

Both parents who are the guardians of the child are entitled to parental leave for 160 days of parental allowance. An employee has the right to take a parental leave at the maximum of four separate periods. The minimum length of a period of leave is 12 working days. In both cases, the parental leave must be taken before the child turns two years.

Even if an employee was entitled to the parental allowance on the basis of another or several children at the same time, the employee may only take a maximum of four periods of parental leave during the same calendar year. 

A parent entitled to parental allowance may transfer a maximum of 63 parental allowance days to the child’s other parent, the child’s guardian or his/her or the other parent’s spouse or cohabiting partner.  The person to whom the days are transferred is entitled to a parental leave for these days.

An employer and employee may agree that the employee takes the parental leave on a part-time basis (partial parental leave).

Childcare leave

An employee is entitled to two full-time periods of childcare leave to look after a child under the age of three. The entitlement to childcare leave of the parent of an adopted child continues for at least two years following adoption, but not beyond the time when the child starts school. The minimum period for childcare leave is a month.

An employer and employee may, however, agree on a period of childcare leave lasting more than two months or less than a month. Childcare leave may only be taken by one of the parents or guardians of a child at a time. One of the parents or guardians may nevertheless take one period of childcare leave at the same time as the other is taking pregnancy or parental leave.

Partial childcare leave may be taken up until the end of the second school year (in practice July), or, if the child has to start school one year earlier than normal, until the end of the third school year. For parents of children who are disabled or chronically ill and who are in need of special care and treatment, entitlement continues until the child is 18 years old.

Return to work in the middle of the above agreed leave must be agreed on between the employer and the employee. If the return to work cannot be agreed on, the employee can, for a justified reason, discontinue the absence by informing the employer of this, no later than one month before the intended return to work. On the employer's request, the employee must deliver a report on the grounds for the absence and its discontinuation.

An employee is entitled to a period of time off lasting a maximum of four working days to look after a child under the age of 10 residing in the same household who has suddenly become ill (temporary childcare leave). The so-called ’absent’ parent of a child has the same entitlement.

Notification periods

As a rule, the employer must be notified of a pregnancy leave, parental leave or childcare leave no later than two months before the start of the leave. If the leave duration is no more than 12 working days, the notification period is one month. 

If possible, a two-month notification period must be observed in notifying the employer of a leave of absence due to care provided to an adopted child.

If it is not possible to comply with the notification period of one month because your spouse starts working, the employee has the right to take parental leave by giving one month's notice. A precondition for this, however, is that no serious inconvenience is caused to the employer’s activities. 

Unless otherwise agreed upon between the employee and the employer, a family leave may be interrupted or its dates can be changed for a justified reason only. This usually requires a significant change in the child’s care arrangements.