28 Sep 2017

Mothers cheer as Estonia gives fathers a boost

The Estonian government gave fathers additional 30-days of paid time off with their newborns, which is one of the longest paid paternity leave for fathers in European Union. 

Marta Tuul
Marta Tuul Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Mothers cheer as Estonia gives fathers a boost - NewsMavens
Dad kisses baby. Tookapic/Pexels (CC0)

Why this story matters:

Estonian government approved amendments to the law, which, among other things, extend paternity leave and grant fathers an additional 30-days of parental benefit.

These changes bring more flexibility and opportunities to reconcile work and family life and also encourage a more even distribution of burdens among parents. However currently, only 9,3% of parents using parental leave are fathers.

The system of parental benefits in Estonia is undoubtedly one of the most generous in the European Union in terms of length and level of compensation, but there is a hidden catch. Longer maternity leave means ever more lengthy absences of women from their professional lives. Studies show that these extended gaps take the heaviest toll on women's careers. For this reason, the offer to extended leave for Estonian fathers carries a real value for women who can return to work sooner, while their partners care for their child.

Though the change to parental leave is directed at fathers, in the end it is certainly the children but also the mothers that will benefit. It remains to be seen, whether the longer period of paid leave will be enough to encourage men to use it. 

Details from the story:

  • In 2016, 17242 parents in Estonia received parental benefits, of which only 9.3% were fathers.
  • The cap on parental benefit is 2724 euro in a month. 
  • A father can stay on paternity leave instead of 30 working days and receive parental benefit for this period.
  • Father's entitlement to parental benefit is not dependent on his employment history or on the type of employment contract he has. 
  • Fathers can use paid leave at the same time as mothers.
  • The level of the parental benefit is calculated from the father's average pay in the 12 calendar months preceding the pregnancy.
  • Mothers in Estonia are given 140 days of fully paid pregnancy and maternity leave, which may begin 30-70 days before the expected delivery date.
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