The right of parents to stay away from work due to home care of a child or other family-related reason is prescribed in chapter 4 of the Employment Contracts Act. Those leaves are referred to with a general term family leave. Kela pays during family leave a parental daily allowance, which includes maternity, paternity, parental and special maternity allowance.
The employer is not obliged to pay the employee remuneration for the duration of family leave (Employment Contract Act, chapter 4, section 8). In the collective agreements of many industries it has, however, been agreed on the employer’s obligation to pay remuneration especially during maternity leave and short-term absences due to a sudden illness of a child. The duration of paid leave varies depending on the collective agreement.
- Maternity leave
According to the Employment Contracts Act, an employee is entitled to maternity leave. The duration of maternity leave is 105 working days (other calendar days except for Sundays and holidays). Maternity leave begins 30–50 working days before the expected date of birth and ends when 105 days are up.
The employee shall notify the employer of maternity leave two months before the start of the leave. The maternity allowance also needs to be applied for two months before the expected date of birth. If you are paid a salary during your maternity leave, Kela will pay the maternity leave to your employer. Further information on Kela’s website.
- Paternity leave
The regulations concerning paternity leave were amended on 1 January 2013. The new regulations will be applied if the special maternity allowance, maternity allowance, or in adoption families parental allowance has started after 1 January 2013. The old law shall be applied to others, even if the child was born in 2013.
Paternity leave is a maximum of 54 working days, or about 9 weeks. Kela pays a paternity allowance for the duration of the leave. The precondition for receiving paternity allowance is that you live together with the mother of the child and participate in care of the child. You may receive paternity allowance exceptionally, if living separately is due to e.g. a work-related situation. The employee shall notify the employer of paternity leave two months before the start of the leave. In case the duration of this leave is no more than 12 working days, however, the period of notification is one month.
- Parental leave
Parental leave starts after the maternity leave. Its duration is 158 working days. If more than one children have been born simultaneously (multiple-birth families), the period of parental leave shall be extended by 60 working days for each child. Either the father or mother can take the parental leave. The parents can take the leave in turns but not simultaneously (with the exception of multiple-birth families). The father and mother can take partial parental leave simultaneously, in which case both work part-time and receive partial parental allowance.
Partial parental leave
Partial parental leave can be taken if the mother and father of the child agree with their employers on part-time work during the parental allowance period in such a way that the working hours and pay of both of them is 40–60% of the working hours and pay of full-time work applied in the industry. The employer is not obliged to consent to the part-time work arrangement, but the law requires an agreement between the employee and employer.
- Child care leave
The right to child care leave is based on the Employment Contracts Act, and the entitlement to it begins immediately at the end of the parental leave period and continues until the child is three years old. Parental leave can be taken by one parent at a time. Parental leave can only be taken if e.g. municipal family day care or day care centre services are not used at the same time. A maximum of two child care leave periods of at least one month can be taken, unless the employer and employee agree on a greater number and shorter periods.
If the mother gives birth to another child during the parental leave or child care leave, she is entitled to a new maternity or parental leave. The right to the leave is always evaluated according to the youngest child.
Child care leave is granted by the employer. The minimum duration is one month. The employer and employee can also agree on more than two child care leave periods which may be shorter than one month.
- Parental allowances
The employee shall notify the employer of the intended family leave two months before the start of the leave. At the same time the employee shall notify the duration and periods of the leave. For a justifiable reason the employee can deviate from the two-month notification period. In case the duration of the leave is no more than 12 working days, however, the period of notification is one month.
Kela pays maternity, paternity and parental allowance (= parental allowances) which compensate an employee’s salary income not paid during the leave. Those with no income shall be paid basic security for the duration of the leave. The precondition for receiving the daily allowance is, however, that the applicant has lived in Finland for at least 180 days immediately before the estimated date of birth of the child. A person which has been insured in an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or Israel is also entitled to daily allowance.
Kela’s website has different calculators for calculating the timing of the daily allowance period and estimating the amount of daily allowance based on income from work. Daily allowance is paid for working days (also Saturday), but not for Sundays, church holidays, Independence Day or May Day.
- Working during maternity allowance period
During the maternity allowance term the employee is, with the employer's consent, entitled to perform work that does not pose a risk to her or to the unborn child. The working shall be based on mutual understanding between the employer and employee on performing the work.
The Employment Contracts Act prohibits working during the maternity leave during a period of two weeks before the expected time of birth and two weeks after giving birth.
- Return to work from a family leave
The right of those returning to work after a family leave is prescribed in chapter 4, section 9 of the Employment Contracts Act. Employees who have a valid employment relationship at the end of a family leave are in the first place entitled to return to their former duties on the same terms of work.
If the company implements e.g. organisational changes, the employer shall note the right of the employee on a family leave to return to reorganised tasks. If returning to the same tasks is not possible, the employer is obliged to offer similar duties in accordance with the employment contract. The obligation to offer work tasks depends on how the work tasks have been agreed on in the employment contract.
The employer must not hire new employees to the same or similar tasks at which the person on a family leave was working. The company shall use substitutes and fixed-term employees in performing the tasks. An employee returning from a family leave shall have priority over substitutes to their previous tasks.
If the tasks remain the same as before the start of the family leave, so will the terms of the employment relationship. General increases in accordance with the collective agreements shall be made to the salary. If the tasks change compared to what they were before, the terms of the employment relationship shall also be determined according to the new work. In most cases the change of terms can, however, only be implemented after a period following return to work, the duration of which equals that of the period of notice.
- Protection against termination during parental leave
Employees on a family leave have improved protection against termination of employment. According to chapter 7, section 9 of the Employment Contracts Act, the employer shall not terminate an employment contract because the employee is exercising his or her right to the family leave. Terminating the employment of an employee exercising his or her family leave shall be deemed to have taken place on the basis of the employee's family leave, unless the employer can prove there was some other reason (does not concern termination of employment on grounds related to the person or e.g. a case of bankruptcy).
As a general rule the employer must not terminate the employment of an employee on maternity, special maternity, paternity or parental leave on financial and production-related grounds. Terminating the employment is only possible if the company’s operations cease completely. If financial and production-related grounds for the termination of employment exist, the notice of termination can be sent to an employee on family leave already before their return to work. The employment relationship will not, however, end until after the period of notice that starts at the end of the family leave.