Extension of Maternity Leave from the first childbirth



Andria Panayiotou

Senior Lawyer

In the context of harmonising Cypriot legislation with European guidelines and directives aimed at improving working conditions and promoting work-life balance, various laws have been enacted in Cyprus to achieve these objectives (see our previous articles regarding paternity leave, parental leave and care leave, legislation on transparent and predictable working conditions, and teleworking).

The House of Representatives, in support of these objectives and to enhance the rights of working mothers, passed the Protection of Maternity (Amending) Law of 2024 (Law 14(I)/2024) ("the Law"), which came into immediate effect upon its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus, namely from the 1st of March 2024.

Under the Law, the right to maternity leave for the first childbirth is extended, from eighteen (18) consecutive weeks to twenty-two (22) consecutive weeks. The extension of maternity leave also applies in cases where the employee has a child through a surrogate mother.

It is clarified that the maternity leave period in the case of a second childbirth remains at twenty-two (22) consecutive weeks, while in the case of a third and subsequent childbirths, the maternity leave period remains at twenty-six (26) consecutive weeks.

Furthermore, the Law increases the entitlement of an employee to maternity leave in cases of adoption. Specifically, in cases of adoption of a first child under the age of 12, the employee's entitlement to maternity leave, is increased from sixteen (16) to twenty (20) consecutive weeks. The period of maternity leave in the case of adoption of a second child remains at twenty (20) consecutive weeks, while in the case of a third child and subsequent children, the period of maternity leave remains at twenty-four (24) consecutive weeks.

Additionally, under the Law, the right to maternity leave can be extended up to eight (8) weeks in cases where the newborn requires hospitalisation immediately after childbirth. Specifically, in cases where the newborn is hospitalised in an incubator due to premature birth or other health issues, if the hospitalisation continues after the first sixty-three (63) days, an additional week of maternity leave is granted for every additional fourteen (14) days of hospitalisation.

The Law includes a transitional provision so that the aforementioned amendments apply also in relation to employees who were on maternity leave at the commencement date of the Law's entry into force.

Finally, concurrently with the Law, the Social Insurance (Amendment) Law of 2024 (Law 15(Ι)/2024) was passed, which includes corresponding amendments regarding the entitlement to maternity allowance from the Social Insurance Fund for the extended maternity leave periods.

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