Family leave is parents’ right

Family leaves are based on the Employment Contracts Act. They secure the employee’s right to maternity, special maternity, paternity, parental and child care leave, and the right to be absent from work for unforeseeable or compelling family reason. Family leaves are subjective rights, provided that their preconditions are met. You may also have the right to be absent from work for other family reasons.

Are you taking family leave soon?

  • Employees have the right to maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental leaves. As a rule, their duration is tied to the maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental allowance periods as stipulated in the Health Insurance Act.
  • An earnings-based allowance or a minimum allowance is paid during the maternity, paternity and parental leave.
  • More information on allowance periods can be found at Kela.
  • You can take child care leave to take care of your child until the child reaches the age of three.
  • Partial child care leave means reducing your daily or weekly working hours in order to take care of your child. You are entitled to a partial child care leave until the end of your child’s second year in compulsory school.
  • Temporary care leave is also a family leave. You can use it to take care of or arrange care for a child under 10 years of age who has suddenly fallen ill.
  • You may also be entitled to a short term absence from work for other sudden family reasons.


Salary payment during family leave

  • The employer has no obligation to pay the employee during family leaves or during absence for compelling family reason.
  • However, many collective agreements state that the employer is obliged to pay the employee during a certain part of the maternity leave, or provide the normal pay for the first 1–3 days when the employee takes care of a sick child of less than 10 years of age.
  • Many collective agreements also stipulate that normal pay is to be paid for the first 6 days of paternity leave.


Employer must be notified of family leave in time

To be entitled to family leave, you need to notify your employer in time. If the employee follows the set time limit, the employer may not decline to grant family leave. Managerial employees need to notify the employer at the latest two months before the intended leave. The notification must include the start and finish date of the family leave.

What if you want to return to work earlier?

  • During family leave you don’t have any statutory right to interrupt it. It can be done only for a very substantial reason.
  • In practice, substantial reason refers to a major change in the child’s care needs.

What if you want to stay longer on family leave?

  • The employee may extend the family leave during it and return to work later than planned. The employer must be notified of this at least two months before the end of the first notified family leave period.