The new Paternity, Parental, Caring, Force Majeure Leave and Flexible Work Arrangements for Work-Life Balance Law
On 16 December 2022, the House of Representatives passed The Leave (Paternity, Parental, Caring, Force Majeure) and Flexible Work Arrangements for Work-Life Balance Law of 2022 (the ‘Law’)
The Law provides for the right to be paid paternity leave and parental leave, the right for carer’s leave and force majeure leave. Additionally, the Law provides for the right of parents of children up to 8 years of age and caregivers to request flexible work arrangements from their employers.
As some of the above rights were already regulated previously by the Law on Protection of Paternity Law and the Parental Leave and Force Majeure Leave Law, these laws have been repealed.
The right to statutory paternity leave continues to be for a maximum period of 2 weeks, to be taken within the period starting from the week of birth or adoption and ending 2 weeks after the end of the maternity leave period, as determined by the Maternity Protection Law.
The right to paternity leave exists regardless of the period of employee’s service with the employer and applies even in cases where child does not survive the birth.
In the event that the mother dies either whilst giving birth or at any time during the maternity leave period, the right to paternity leave increases for as many weeks as the remaining weeks of the maternity leave which the mother would have been entitled to had she not died.
The paternity allowance is paid by the Social Insurance in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Social Insurance Law and must be notified to the employer at least 2 weeks prior to taking the paternity leave.
Parental leave is granted to working parents who have worked at least 6 continuous months for the same employer and the leave is for a total period of 18 weeks for every child, extended to 23 weeks in case of (i) a widower or single parent, (ii) removal of parental care rights from the other parent, or (iii) non-recognition of the child by the other parent.
It is possible for an employee to take parental leave in a non-consecutive manner, as long as it is for a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 5 weeks per calendar year.
The right to parental leave is not transferable with the exception that one parent can transfer a maximum of 9 remaining weeks to the other parent if for that period no parental leave allowance is given.
The employee must notify the employer at least 3 weeks in advance of the date on which the parental leave is to begin.
Statutory parental leave allowance
Up until 1 August 2024, a parental leave allowance is granted by the Social Insurance Fund for the first 6 weeks of parental leave, and from 2 August 2024 onwards for the first 8 weeks of parental leave, on condition that the employee satisfies the criteria included in the Social Insurance Law and provided that the applicant-employee has completed 12 months’ employment in the last 24-month period. In the case of an incapacitated child the duration of the parental leave allowance is extended.
Without affecting the right to receive parental leave allowance, an employee has the right to request parental leave to be given in a flexible way (e.g. part-time or reduced hours work etc). This right is limited to the possibility of taking parental leave with a minimum duration of 1 day. Upon making such request, the employee must specify to the employer the type of flexibility requested and the length of leave as well as the part of the parental leave that the employee wants to be taken in a flexible way.
An employer may postpone, for a maximum period of 2 months, the date of the parental leave for operational reasons having first offered flexible work where possible.
Carers Leave/Force Majeure Leave
The Law introduces for the first time the right of an employee to request 5 days per year of unpaid leave as carer’s leave. This right applies when an employee wants to care for a relative (as defined in the Law) or a person residing in the same household as the employee, and who is in need of significant care or support due to a serious medical reason.
Carer’s leave can be taken consecutively or in parts.
The 7 days per year unpaid force majeure leave which was previously dealt with under separate legislation is now regulated under the Law.
Flexible Work arrangements
The Law introduces the right for working parents with children up to eight 8 years old and every carer (as defined in the Law) to request flexible working arrangements for care reasons. Flexible working arrangements is defined as the possibility for an employee to adjust their employment patterns, including through the use of remote working arrangements, flexible working schedules or reduced working hours.
In order to be eligible, employees must have completed 6 months of continuous employment with the same employer. Employers must respond to the request within 1 month and have the right to postpone or reject the request giving relevant reasoning for its decision.
Safeguarding employment rights during paternity, parental, care or force majeure leave
The Law provides that absence from work due to the exercise of rights provided under the Law should not affect the employees’ seniority, their rights to promotion or their return to work in equivalent job positions with equal pay and benefits. Furthermore, any such period of absence is regarded as working time for the purpose of calculating the annual leave allowance of an employee. Similarly, for the purposes of the Termination of Employment Law of 1967, any such absence should be regarded as a period of employment. Given the above developments, employers are urged to review and update their employment manuals, employment agreements and practices so as to be in line with the new Law.