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  • A woman has the right to maternity leave of 100 calendar days.
  • The father is entitled to a total of 30 calendar days of paternity leave.
  • An adoptive parent of a child under 18 years of age has the right to adoptive parent leave of 70 calendar days.

An overview of the types of leaves for parents

Type of holiday Duration of holiday Holiday pay Payer of the holiday pay
Maternity leave 100 calendar days maternity benefit Social Insurance Board
Paternity leave 30 calendar days paternity benefit Social Insurance Board
Adoptive parent leave 70 calendar days parental benefit for adoptive parents Social Insurance Board
Parental leave until the child is three years of age parental benefit Social Insurance Board
Child leave (until the child is 14 years of age) 10 working days per child for each parent child leave benefit Social Insurance Board
Child leave for a parent of a disabled child 1 working day per month child leave benefit for a parent of a disabled child Social Insurance Board
Child leave without pay up to 10 working days unpaid -

Maternity leave

Pregnancy and maternity leave will become maternity leave with the amendment of the law on 1st of April. A woman has the right to maternity leave of 100 calendar days, which becomes collectible at least 70 calendar days before the estimated date of birth. If a woman starts using maternity leave less than 70 days before the estimated date of birth, the maternity leave is shortened by the respective period. This means that the length of maternity leave will depend on when the mother goes on maternity leave.

For example: If a mother goes on maternity leave 40 calendar days before the child's estimated date of birth, the total length of her maternity leave is 70 calendar days (40 days before birth + 30 days after birth). The remaining 30 calendar days are added to a period of shared parental benefit, which can be used flexibly by both parents if they so wish. This means that the period of shared parental benefit is extended at the expense of the days of maternity benefit not used by the mother.

Read more about the shared parental benefit here:

https://sotsiaalkindlustusamet.ee/en/family-child-protection/changes-family-benefits-act

If a mother goes on maternity leave 30 days or less before the estimated date of birth, the period covered by maternity benefit is shortened by the number of days by which the mother later began using the maternity leave. The unused days of maternity benefit are not transferred over to the period of shared parental benefit.

For example: if a mother goes on maternity leave 10 days before the estimated date of birth of a child, the length of her maternity leave is 40 days, but the period covered by her shared parental benefit does not extend by 20 days after the birth of the child.

Maternity leave should therefore be taken 70-31 calendar days before the estimated birth of the child. After the estimated birth of a child, the maternity leave lasts for another 30 calendar days. For maternity leave, the woman shall receive maternity benefit in accordance with the Family Benefits Act. The maternity benefit will be paid by the Social Insurance Board instead of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

In order to start using the maternity leave, the employer must be notified at least 30 calendar days in advance. However, the parties to the employment relationship may agree on a shorter or longer notice period.

 

Paternity leave

A father has the right to paternity leave to the extent of 30 calendar days during the period of time from 30 days before the estimated date of birth determined by a doctor or midwife until the child attains three years of age. Paternity leave can be used in one part or in parts but the employer has the right to refuse to grant paternity leave in a part shorter than seven calendar days.

If a child’s parents are of the same gender, the right to paternity leave is held by one parent of the child who has no right to maternity leave connection with this child

To go on paternity leave, the father shall give at least 30 calendar days of advance notice. However, the parties to the employment relationship may agree on a shorter or longer notice period.

During paternity leave the employment contract will be suspended in the employment register. If the father has several employers, paternity leave must be taken from all employers at the same time. During paternity leave, the father may not work or earn income.

Taking paternity leave does not depend on whether the child’s mother uses maternity leave or not. It is also irrelevant for the paternity leave whether or not the child’s father is married to the child’s mother. If the father of a child is deceased or fails to perform his obligation to raise and care for the child or files with the Social Insurance Board a written notice of waiver of paternity benefit, the right to paternity leave is held by the mother’s spouse or a registered partner.

For paternity leave, the father has the right to receive paternity benefit in accordance with the Family Benefits Act, which is paid by the Social Insurance Board.

Adoptive parent leave

The right to adoptive parent leave lies with an adoptive parent who is adopting an underage person without parental care in accordance with the rules provided in Chapter 11 of the Family Law Act. Thus, everyone who adopts a person under the age of 18 years is entitled to adoptive parent leave.

An adoptive parent has the right to adoptive parent leave of a total of up to 70 calendar days within six months as of the date of entry into force of the court judgment approving the adoption. The adoptive parent leave can be used in one part or in parts.

It is also possible to take the leave by both parents at the same time, in which case the period of adoptive parent leave is reduced according to the number of calendar days used at the same time. For example, adoptive parents can simultaneously take up to 35 calendar days of leave, or both adoptive parents can take 20 calendar days of leave at the same time, and one of the parents continues the leave for another 30 calendar days (70 - 20 - 20 = 30). Thus, the adoptive parents have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to take the leave at the same time, in turns, or whether only one of the parents takes the leave.

If an adoptive parent adopts a child under the age of three years and has the right to parental leave of more than 70 calendar days that is subject to parental benefit, the adoptive parent will not be entitled to adoptive parent leave in addition to the parental leave. As the purpose of adoptive parent leave is to enable adoptive parents to take time off and adjust to a new family member, it is important that during this period the opportunity to use the leave would be granted. If the adoptive parent has the opportunity to receive at least 70 calendar days of parental leave, this purpose has been achieved.

If a person is adopting several children at the same time, the person will be entitled to adoptive parent leave for one child of their choice.

The foster parent is also entitled to adoptive parent leave. Parents of foster families, like adoptive parents, need time off work to adjust to the child taken into the family. The right to adoptive parent leave arises for the foster parent as of the day of entry into a foster parent contract. If a foster parent has exercised their right to adoptive parent leave for one child, they will not be entitled to the adoptive parent leave in the event of adopting the same child. Thus, if a family no longer wants to be limited to being a parent of a foster family and adopts the same child, that family will not acquire a new right to adoptive parent leave after the adoption process.

In order to take or interrupt adoptive parent leave the employee has to notify the employer at least 30 calendar days in advance. However, the parties may agree otherwise i.e. agree on a longer or shorter notice period.

The parental benefit for adoptive parents is paid by the Social Insurance Board for adoptive parent leave in accordance with the Family Benefits Act.

 

Parental leave

A parent raising a child in Estonia has the right to parental leave. Parental leave may be taken by one parent at a time. Both parents can simultaneously take up to 60 calendar days of parental leave. The aim is to enable parents to take care of their child at the same time and to receive for that time off that is compensated with parental benefit.

A guardian and a parent of the foster family, as well as the actual caregiver of the child, also have the right to parental leave. The actual caregiver may be, for example, a grandmother or a relative who takes care of the child when the child's parents are not using parental leave. Thus, the actual caregiver is entitled to parental leave if the child's parents are not using the leave.

There is no right to parental leave if the parent has been deprived of their parental right of custody or if it has been restricted.

Parental leave can be used until the child reaches the age of three. While on parental leave it is possible for the parent to interrupt the leave and start using it again at a time of his or her choice.

If a child is stillborn or dies within 70 calendar days after birth, mothers entitled to maternity leave will be able to take compensated maternity leave for 100 calendar days. If the mother has less than 30 calendar days left on maternity leave at the time of the child's death, she will in any case be granted 30 days of compensated leave with maternity benefit.

An employee is obliged to notify the employer of taking parental leave or interrupting parental leave at least 30 calendar days in advance, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. For the period of parental leave an employee has the right to parental benefit in accordance with the Family Benefits Act, the benefit is paid by the Social Insurance Board.

Returning to work after parental leave (rules from 1 April 2022)

What is parental leave and how does it work?

  • Employees must notify their employer of taking or interrupting parental leave 30 calendar days in advance in a format which can be reproduced in writing (e-mail, SMS, letter, etc.).
  • Parental leave can be taken by the mother or father. Both parents have the right to take parental leave at the same time for up to 60 days. In this case, the total period for which the parental benefit is paid is reduced proportionally by the number of days for which the parents received parental benefit at the same time.

Parental leave lasts until the child turns three. The child’s third birthday is considered the last day of parental leave.

What happens to the employee’s job while they are on parental leave?

Usually, employers hire a substitute for the employee on parental leave or their duties are temporarily reassigned. Deliberately reorganising the work without taking into account the employee on parental leave may be discrimination (practice of the labour dispute committee).

Can employment relationships end during parental leave?

  • Employees may not be laid off during parental leave.
  • An employment relationship entered into for a fixed term may end during parental leave (the expiry of the term) and the employment relationship can be cancelled by mutual agreement.
  • An employment relationship may only be unilaterally cancelled in accordance with the Employment Contracts Act. Employees may cancel their employment relationship by ordinary means or in extraordinary or exceptional circumstances and employers can cancel employment relationships in extraordinary or exceptional circumstances due to reasons arising from the employee (e.g. if the employee violates the restraint of trade clause during parental leave).

Is it possible to work during parental leave and under which conditions?

It is not forbidden to work for another employer during parental leave, except in the case of a restraint of trade clause.

Would it be possible to work for the same employer where the employee is currently taking parental leave?

In agreement with the employer, it is possible to work while the employee is entitled to parental leave. It is common for employees to temporarily work part-time, for example in another position. Temporarily working under other conditions is usually drawn up as an annex to the contract (a temporary amendment to the employment contract). However, it should be taken into account that the income may reduce the parental benefit paid. In 2022, the maximum limit for wages is 2021.54 euros (half of the maximum limit of parental benefit). If the wages exceed this amount, the amount of parental benefit will be reduced.

What if, during parental leave, a pregnant employee wishes to take maternity leave again?

A woman on parental leave who wishes to take maternity leave again and receive the maternity benefit must interrupt parental leave and notify their employer of taking maternity leave. To do so, an application must be submitted to the employer for the interruption of parental leave and taking maternity leave (30 calendar days in advance).

If the end date of parental leave on the application is the day before the maternity leave starts, the woman does not have to return to work in the meantime.

What are the rights of an employee returning from parental leave?

  • After parental leave is interrupted or ends, the employee is entitled to the same or equivalent work and to the wages agreed on with the employer prior to taking leave.
  • An employee who has returned from parental leave is entitled to the working conditions which have improved during their absence, including wages. If the working conditions (including wages) of other employees have improved in the meantime, then the employee who was on parental leave must also be ensured the improved conditions upon their return. This does not apply if an employee’s wages have been increased due to their performance and there has been no overall wage increase independent of their contribution.
  • Employees who are raising at least one child under the age of 8 or care for a person in need of significant care or support due to a serious health issue have the right to apply for flexible working conditions, including fulfilling their duties while partially or fully teleworking on the basis of flexible working time arrangements or to work part-time. Upon reviewing the application, the employer will consider the employee’s needs that are reasonably compatible with the interests of the employer’s company. If the employer is unable to change the working conditions, they will justify their refusal in a format which can be reproduced in writing within 14 calendar days of receiving the application.

Can a probationary period be reapplied to employees returning from parental leave?

  • A probationary period or an induction period with reduced wages may not be imposed on employees returning from parental leave.
  • Caring for a child does not mean that the qualifications of the employee have declined. If significant changes have taken place in the company, the employer is obliged to train employees who have returned from parental leave in the same manner as other employees.
  • If, due to consecutive births, an employee has been absent from work for several years and needs to obtain knowledge and skills that their colleagues have developed during that time, the employer is obliged to train them at the employer’s expense. The employee must be paid average wages during training.

Would it be possible to change the work load?

The work load may be changed from part-time to full-time or vice versa by mutual agreement. Neither employees nor employers can request working time which differs from the agreement, but employers should, for example, allow the employee returning from leave to have a similar organisation of work as their substitute had.

What is meant by similar organisation of work?

For example, if their substitute was allowed to work remotely or part-time, then employees returning from parental leave must also have that right.

What else should be kept in mind in regard to employees returning from parental leave?

  • The employment relationship may not be cancelled due to the employee fulfilling important familial responsibilities (raising a child), for example due to the employee often taking care leave.
  • A parent of a child under the age of three or a child with a disability may not be sent on a business trip without their agreement.
  • If a child is younger than one and a half years, a breastfeeding mother is entitled to an additional break to breastfeed for at least 30 minutes every three hours.

Which holidays are employees returning from parental leave entitled to?

  • Employees have the right to use annual holiday immediately after returning from parental leave. The employer cannot refuse.
  • Parents have the right to take annual holiday at a time of their choosing until the child turns seven. In the case of children aged 7-10, employees have the right to request annual holiday during school holidays.
  • Parents have the right to take ten days of child leave until the child turns 14. When taking leave for more than one child, it should be taken into account that employers have the right to refuse to grant more than 30 calendar days of leave per calendar year. This applies first and foremost to employees with four or more children.
  • Additionally, parents of a disabled child have the right to take child leave of one working day per month until the child turns 18.

Parents who are raising a child of up to 14 years of age or a disabled child of up to 18 years of age have the right to child leave without pay of up to ten working days every calendar year.

Employers must be notified of child leave 14 calendar days in advance. If an employee wishes to take child leave consecutively for more than 15 calendar days, they must notify their employer at least 30 calendar days in advance unless the parties have agreed otherwise.

Fathers have the right to paternity leave to the extent of 30 calendar days in one part or in parts during the period of time from 30 days before the estimated date of birth determined by a doctor or midwife until the child attains three years of age. Employers have the right to refuse to grant paternity leave for fewer than seven calendar days at a time. Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, employees must notify their employer of paternity leave 30 calendar days in advance, except when advance notice cannot be reasonably expected due to circumstances.

Take Note! Working part-time while receiving parental benefit may affect the amount of pay for the holidays taken after parental leave as well as the amount of compensation related to the cancellation of the employment relationship.

Can employees returning from parental leave face redundancy?

  • If the employer cannot provide work on the agreed conditions, the employee will be laid off.
  • Employers must offer the employee other work before they are laid off. If the employee agrees to the new offer, their employment contract will be amended. If the employee does not agree, they will be laid off.
  • A parent raising a child less than three years of age has the preferential right of keeping their job (except in the case of liquidation or bankruptcy). If there are no equivalent positions to offer, a parent raising a child less than three years of age may also be laid off.

How much notice should be given for redundancy?

  • The employer must give the employee advance notice of redundancy if the employee’s employment relationship with the employer has lasted:
  • less than one year of employment – no less than 15 calendar days
  • one to five years of employment – no less than 30 calendar days
  • five to ten years of employment – no less than 60 calendar days
  • ten or more years of employment – no less than 90 calendar days

If the employer is unable to provide work during the notice period, the employment relationship can be cancelled effective immediately, but the shorter notice period must be monetarily compensated.

What kind of compensation is paid to the employee upon redundancy?

In addition to the so-called final settlement, i.e. the wages earned and the pay for expired and unused annual holiday, the employer is obliged to pay the employee compensation for cancellation in the amount of the employee’s one month’s average wages. The amount of compensation is the same for all employees, regardless of their length of service.

What if the parties have entered into a fixed-term employment contract?

In the case of a fixed-term contract, the compensation for cancellation must correspond to the wages that the employee would have been entitled to until the expiry of the contract term. This does not apply to contracts entered into for the purpose of substitution.

Does the Unemployment Insurance Fund also pay compensation?

  • In the case of 5-10 years of service, the Unemployment Insurance Fund pays one month’s compensation and in the case of more than 10 years of service, a compensation of two months.
  • In the case of redundancy, the employee has the right to apply for the unemployment insurance benefit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Child leave

Both parents have the right to child leave of ten working days per child until the child reaches the age of 14 years, which they can use at their discretion and considering the child's needs until the child reaches the age of 14. In other words, it is not possible to take ten working days of child leave each year, but all days are spread until the child reaches the age of 14.

If a parent has more than three children under the age of 14, he or she may use in one calendar year a total of child leave days for up to three children i.e. at most 30 calendar days.

If a parent is raising a child alone (the population register contains no entry concerning the other parent), a parent has the right to child leave of up to 20 working days per child.

In the year the child turns 14 years of age, child leave is granted regardless of whether the birthday of the child falls before or after the child leave. The parent can therefore decide whether he or she wishes to take the leave before or after the child's birthday.

For child leave, a parent is entitled to a benefit the amount of which is 50 per cent of the amount of one calendar day’s parental benefit calculated in accordance with the Family Benefits Act. The benefit paid when taking child leave may not be less than the rate of average salary per working day in one month calculated on the basis of the minimum salary. In order to calculate the amount of the benefit, an average salary for one calendar day is calculated on the basis of income earned during the 12 months preceding to three months counted back from the use of the leave.

If the child leave is not indicated in the holiday schedule, but the employee wishes to use it for 1–15 calendar days, the employee must notify the employer of the use of the leave 14 calendar days in advance. However, if an employee wishes to take child leave for more than 15 consecutive calendar days (i.e. if a parent wishes to use child leave at once for more than one child), the employer must be notified at least 30 calendar days before the leave.

A guardian and a parent of the foster family, also have the right to child leave. Additionally, the right to child leave is extended to the parent's spouse or registered partner in the amount of unused days if one of the parents of a child is deceased or fails to perform his or her obligation, arising from the Family Law Act, to raise the child or files with the Social Insurance Board a written notice of waiver of child leave. 

There is no right to child leave if the parent has been deprived of their parental right of custody.

Child leave for a parent of a disabled child

One parent of a disabled child has the right to child leave of one working day per month until the child reaches the age of 18 years. If parents have multiple disabled children, they are entitled to additional days off according to the number of disabled children. There is no right to child leave for a parent of a disabled child if the parent has been deprived of their parental right of custody

Although the law does not provide for the possibility of joining the days of leave and the additional monthly leave for a parent of a disabled child is primarily intended to enable the parent to regularly take care of the special needs of his or her disabled child, the law does not prohibit the conclusion of agreements pursuant to which days off may be combined or claimed retroactively within the calendar year.

In calendar year the disabled child turns 18 years of age, child leave for a parent of a disabled child is granted regardless of whether the birthday of the child falls before or after the leave.

A guardian and a parent of the foster family, also have the right to child leave for a parent of a disabled child. Additionally, the right to child leave for a parent of a disabled child is extended to the parent's spouse or registered partner in the amount of unused days if one of the parents of a child is deceased or fails to perform his or her obligation, arising from the Family Law Act, to raise the child or files with the Social Insurance Board a written notice of waiver of child leave for a parent of a disabled child.

For child leave for a parent of a disabled child, a parent is entitled to a benefit for one calendar day, the amount of which equals to the amount of parental benefit for one calendar day calculated on the basis of the Family Benefits Act. The benefit is paid by the Social Insurance Board.

If an employee and an employer have reached an agreement that the days of child leave for a parent of a disabled child are added together and the parent wishes to use them after 1st of April, the benefit is calculated on the basis of the new wording of the law.

Child leave without pay

Both parents who are raising a child of up to 14 years of age or a disabled child of up to 18 years of age have the right to child leave without pay of up to ten working days every calendar year. In addition to a parent, the child’s guardian or a person with whom a foster care contract has been entered into has the right to child leave without pay.

Child leave without pay can be taken in full or in parts during a calendar year and only on the working days of an employee. An employee’s working day is every day when the employee performs work duties, regardless of the length. Both the mother and father can take the leave. A parent shall give 14 days of advance notice in writing regarding his or her wish to take child leave without pay.

Use of leave

An employer can determine the use of leaves by employees during the first quarter of each year when he or she draws up the holiday schedule.

The objective of the holiday schedule is to give both the employee and the employer the opportunity to plan work and leave in advance. An employer draws up a holiday schedule for each calendar year and communicates it to the employees within the first quarter of the calendar year. An employer has to indicate annual leave and unused holiday in the holiday schedule, but may also add there other leaves such as family leave.

If an employer has not drawn up or communicated the holiday schedule by 31st of March, each employee may go on holiday at the time he or she wishes, notifying the employer 14 calendar days in advance in a format which can be reproduced in writing pursuant to Subsection 69(3) of the Employment Contracts Act. In the case of taking maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and adoptive parent leave, the employer must be notified at least 30 calendar days in advance, unless parties have agreed otherwise. There is also a 30-calendar-day notice period for taking child leave if the employee wishes to take more than 15 consecutive calendar days of child leave. Parties may agree otherwise.