Progress on proposed family leave reform – comments received will guide further deliberations
The commentary round on the Government’s proposal for a reform of family leaves has now been completed. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, plenty of feedback was received on the proposal, which is now being refined further based on the comments received.
The Government's proposal for a family leave reform, which the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is currently working on, was out for a round of comments until the end of April 2021. The comments received show that the reform and the Government’s draft proposal are viewed favourably. However, various changes will be made to the proposal based on the comments received, which will have a significant impact on individual families and children. The changes will be carried out before the proposal is submitted to Parliament for approval.
The round of comments is part of the legislative process aimed at ensuring that the law will become clear and unambiguous and that all groups are treated equally.
Kela has been an active participant in the background group set up for the reform. Kela is also getting ready to overhaul its customer service process for maternity, paternity and parental allowances to comply with modern technical requirements and to provide counsel and advice to customers as required by the reform.
Changes to the Government’s proposal
The changes outlined below will be made to the Government’s proposal. The basic goals and model for the family leave reform will remain the same.
Partial parental allowance and partial parental leave
One day of partial parental allowance will count as one half day of entitlement to the allowance, so two partial days count as one full day of entitlement. Currently, one day of partial parental allowance counts as one full day of entitlement.
In single-parent families, the ability of the parent to turn over a portion of their parental allowance entitlement to another person will be enhanced. If a child has one parent who is entitled to the parental allowance, that parent can give up a total of 126 days (2 x 63 days) out of their personal 320-day entitlement to their spouse, for instance.
The number of days of parental allowance that the parents in a multiple-birth family can use at the same time will be increased with the result that in addition to 18 days of parental allowance, the parents can get 90 days for the second and each additional child. This means that parents of twins can get parental allowance for 108 days (18 + 90 days), parents of triplets for 198 days (18 + 90 + 90 days), and so on.
Additionally, the total number of parental allowance days available to parents in a multiple-birth family is increased so that parental allowance is paid for 84 days for the second and each additional child. For parents of twins, the total number of parental allowance days would be 404 (320 + 84 days), for parents of triplets, 488 (320 + 84 + 84 days), and so on.
Death of a child
If a child is stillborn or dies before reaching the age of 2, parental allowance is paid for 24 working days or, alternatively, for as many days as are left in the parental allowance entitlement. This change will add additional days to the entitlement.
If a child is stillborn or dies soon after birth, the parent giving birth will get an allowance for a consecutive period of 105 working days.
This will ensure that the reform will not weaken the existing protections for pregnant parents and will provide additional rights for the other parents in the event of the death of their child.
The Government’s proposal for a family leave reform will next be reviewed by the Finnish Council for Regulatory Impact Analysis and will then be submitted to Parliament for approval. The family leave reform is planned to go into effect on 1 August 2022.