Chapter IV: Maternity and paternity benefits
When are you entitled to maternity or paternity benefits?
Women are entitled to healthcare before, during and after the birth, on account of mandatory health insurance. Rights to parental leave and cash benefits stem from the parental protection insurance.
In order to be entitled to maternity or paternity benefit, you have to be insured prior to the commencement of leave or at least 12 months in the preceding three years. The Maternity Leave/Benefit can usually be claimed by the mother of a child. Only exceptionally, it could be claimed by the child’s father or another insured person caring for the child or an adoptive parent, if the mother died, left the child or is unable to live and work independently. As a rule, fathers and adoptive parents have the right to special benefits. If insurance conditions are not met, you may be entitled to Parental Allowance from the family benefit scheme.
What is covered?
The benefits of parental protection insurance are parental leave (maternity, paternity, adoption and childcare leave), parental benefits (Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Childcare Benefit) and the right to work part-time due to parenthood.
Maternity leave lasts for 105 calendar days, starting 28 days before the expected on finement date and 77 after this date. It is mandatory after the confinement and unused leave before the confinement cannot be transferred to the period when the child is born.
Fathers are entitled to 90 days of paternity leave, of which 15 days have to be used during the first 6 months of the child’s life. The remaining 75 days (only contributions paid) should be used before the child reaches the age of 3 years.
After the exhaustion of the maternity leave, either of the parents may claim the childcare leave. It lasts for 260 calendar days and might in certain cases be extended. For instance, it can be prolonged for an additional 90 days in case of multiple births (for each additional child), or if the infant needs special care. It might also be prolonged if parents already have two or more children under the age of eight years, or in case of a premature birth.
Adoption leave is granted to either or both adoptive parents so that they and the child can have uninterrupted time together following the adoption. Adoption leave is 150 days for children aged between one and four years, and 120 days for children between four and ten years of age. When the adoption leave is taken by both adoptive parents together the total duration is limited to 150 or 120 days respectively.
Parental benefit (maternity, paternity, childcare and adoption benefit)
Parental benefit is paid during the parental leave. Insurance on the day before taking the parental leave is enough to be entitled to parental benefits. If there is no entitlement to parental leave, parental benefit might still be claimed if the person has been insured for at least 12 months in the previous three years. Parental benefit amounts to 100% of the average salary (or other calculation basis) for the 12 months preceding the first application for parental leave. In case of missing months, 55% of the minimum wage is taken into account. The amount of parental benefit is limited, with the exception of maternity leave. Parental benefit is normally paid during the parental leave. The only exception is the Paternity Benefit. It is paid only for the first 15 days. For the remaining 75 days only social security contributions based on the minimum wage are paid for the father of the child.
One of the parents is entitled to work part-time (not less than half of the full working time) until the child reaches the age of three years. This period is prolonged until the youngest child is six in case of two or three children in the family. If there are four or more children, one of the parents is allowed to leave the labour market entirely. In case of a disabled child the right to work part-time can be prolonged until the child matures.
In all these cases, the employer guarantees the pay for work actually performed, and for the remaining part full working time social security contributions are paid from the parental protection insurance.
How are maternity and paternity benefits accessed?
Parental leave and benefits are claimed at the regional Centre for Social Work, usually in the mother’s permanent place of residence. Beneficiaries are obliged to notify their employer, normally 30 days prior to the planned parental leave. If this could not be done, the employer has to be notified within 3 days after the child birth.
Your right to maternity and paternity benefits when moving within Europe
The coordination provisions cover maternity and equivalent paternity benefits. Whenever certain conditions have to be fulfilled in order to become entitled to benefits, the competent institution (i.e. institution in the country in which you are insured) must take account of periods of insurance, residence or employment completed under the legislation of another country of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
As a general rule, benefits in cash (i.e. benefits intended to replace suspended income) are always paid according to the legislation of the country where you are insured, regardless of where you are residing or staying∗. Benefits in kind (i.e. medical care, medicines and hospitalisation) are provided according to the legislation of your country of residence as if you were insured there.
Further information about the coordination of social security rights when moving or travelling can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/social-security-coordination.