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Changes to the parental benefits and parental leave system coming into force on 1 April will offer families more flexibility

parents with child
Changes to the parental benefits and parental leave system coming into force on 1 April will offer families more flexibility

The changes shortly coming to parental benefits and parental leave will offer more flexibility and convenience for current and future parents. All state family benefits and leaves are now available from one place for parents through the Self-Service portal of the Social Insurance Board.

Changes in force from 1 April:

  • Mothers will be able to use maternity leave and the maternity benefit paid monthly in place of the current pregnancy and maternity leave and maternity benefit.
  • The parental benefit can be used on a daily basis until the child reaches the age of three. This will allow parents to spread the payments of the parental benefit over a longer period. The current possibility of earning income while receiving parental benefit will continue, so that the parent can work at a volume of their choice while raising the child.
  • While parents were previously only able to decide on the 71st day following the child’s birth which parent would receive the parental benefit, fathers with a one-month-old child will now have the option for a shared parental benefit.
  • Parents can now receive up to 60 days of parental benefit at the same time and be on parental leave together.
  • Parents will henceforth receive child leave on an individual and child-by-child basis: 10 days of child leave for each parent for each child up to the age of 14 – a total of 20 days per child per family.
  • The changes will also reduce the burden on employers in managing holidays. From now on, parental leave will be applied for and be paid through the Social Insurance Board, which will also inform the employer of the employee’s wish to take leave.

‘When designing our family policy, we have kept in mind that families are unique and each family has their own wants and needs. The parental benefit system will become even more flexible to consider the parents’ wishes. Fathers who want to take on a bigger role in raising their child will now also have the opportunity to stay at home with the child much earlier, and mothers will be able to continue working earlier, if they wish,’ said Signe Riisalo, Minister of Social Protection.

The changes to parental benefits and parental leave aim to give families the flexibility to stay at home with their child, work and share the burden of care more equally between parents. According to the Minister of Social Protection, the economic security and well-being of families is conducive to secure, happy and lasting family relationships, the birth rate, and the reconciliation of work and family life.

Kati Kümnik, Head of the Benefits Department at the Social Insurance Board, highlighted the Social Insurance Board’s self-service portal, where parents can see all the parental benefits and parental leave they are entitled to receive. ‘In addition to the fact that everything concerning benefits and leave is visible to the parent through the self-service portal, we will contact the new parent ourselves and let them know what benefits they are entitled to receive,’ said Kümnik. So from now on, parents do not have to worry about missing out.

Parents will be able to use the Social Insurance Board’s self-service portal to plan their benefits and leaves starting from 1 April, when new convenient options also become available. ‘As we are significantly upgrading the capabilities of our self-service portal for parents, it is also a big change from a technical perspective. We are grateful in advance for parents’ patience in case there are any delays in using the self-service portal due to the changes,’ said Kümnik. The Social Insurance Board will continue to develop the self-service portal after the changes come into force, for example, a calculator will be available from autumn allowing you to determine the amount of your parental benefit even before the birth of your child.

Estonia stands out amongst other European countries in terms of the generosity and flexibility of its parental benefit system, which gives families the opportunity to grow together and successfully reconcile work and family life. In 2018, the Riigikogu decided to reorganise the current system of parental benefits and parental leave. The changes have been implemented in stages, with the last phase of changes coming into force from 1 April.

BACKGROUND

  • On average, 13,000–14,000 children are born in Estonia every year. The state pays parental benefits to around 18,500 mothers and fathers every month. Every month, there are around 1500 new recipients of parental benefits.
  • A total of 266,000 mothers and fathers are entitled to child leave. It is used by approximately 16% of parents. A total of 22,000 people will have a child aged 14 in 2022. These parents will be able to use all of their child leave this year.
  • The share of fathers receiving parental benefit will increase – in 2021, fathers will make up 16% of all parental benefit recipients. Five years ago, in 2017, the share of fathers receiving parental benefit was 8%.
  • Over the last five years, the number of recipients of parental benefit who receive income from work has also increased from 9% to 19%. This means that parents are increasingly making use of opportunities to combine work and family life.

You can find out more about all of the changes on the website of the Social Insurance Board: https://sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee/et/perehuvitised2022.