Leave for fathers extended to 30 days

PHOTO: Elmo Riig / Sakala

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik signed a regulation yesterday extending the ten-day leave granted to the father of a newborn to 30 days. Although the amendment is now certain, the new system will only apply to those whose child is born after July 1, 2020.

Some further amendments to the present system are also planned, but since the whole issue will be soon moved to the sphere of the minister of population, these changes need not take place.

Fathers will be eligible for the 30-day compensation if their children are born on July 1, 2020 or later. If the child is born before that date, the previous system will apply. However, during the transition period a situation may occur where the old system will be applied to the father even if the child was born after July 1.

“If a child is born on July 1, 2020 or oater, but the father has used his right to the old-type 10-day leave within two months before the birth, the leave will be determined according to the old regulation,” said Karin Volmer, the Ministry of Social Affairs PR head. Accordingly, if the child is expected to be born in early July 2020, fathers should not use their right to take a leave before it.

The time period during which the leave could be taken, will be changed as well. According to the new system, the period will last from 30 days before the birth until the child’s third birthday.

Riina Soobik, Ministry of Social Affairs PR advisor, explained that the one-month extra leave could be used whole or in installments. “The families will have an extra period they could use as they see fit during three years,” Soobik said.

Although the ministry describes the father’s one-month leave as additional compensation, this does not mean that the time the mothers will spend at home would be accordingly reduced. Tanel Kiik assured that the fathers can take their leave at the same time as mothers or separately. For example, after the mother’s compensation period expires, the father can take his 30-day leave.

The one-month leave for fathers is only one part of a parents’ compensation reform the ministry has initiated and planned for some time. The bill was passed by the parliament back in 2017, but the law amendments are only now coming in force.

The regulation amendment was signed by the minister of social affairs, but the entire issue of parents’ compensation will soon be handed over to Minister of Population Riina Solman.

Solman has been saying since she took over the post that her goal is increasing birth rate. A department of population and family policy was formed in July under the minister of population and it is headed by Lea Danilson-Järg, who had previously, when working s a journalist, sharply criticized the fathers’ compensation and the ministry’s plans for amending the compensation system.

“The reform of the parents’ compensation has gone so far that the amendments have been long approved. The current implementation acts are quite technical and we decided to sign them now,” Danilson-Järg said.

She nevertheless hinted that they plan to revise the reforms being currently implemented, since the amendment will be unfair to children without a father.

“This is not just a matter of single parents. Some parents may be working in other countries and their working schedule need not allow such a long absence. We also need to remember that in a number of cases it is not justified that the father can take the leave. We have a serious problem with domestic violence and these women need to be protected so that they could decide on their own whether or not a specific father can stay at home with an infant. There are many different situations,” Danilson-Järg explained.