Paternity leave as a new institute of the Labour Code?

Written by Mgr. Simona Kubišová

As we announced in the previous article, the amendment to the Labour Code (planned to come into force on 1 August 2022) often mentions that it introduces the so-called paternity leave to supplement and clarify the provisions concerning the work-life balance of parents and persons with caring responsibilities.

However, we would like to point out that the above is only partially true, since the amendment to the Labour Code does not introduce a completely new institution of paternity leave, but only a terminological change consisting in renaming and separating parental leave of a man (within the meaning of Article 166(1) of the Labour Code) into paternity leave and supplementing some related provisions of the law.

Although in law legal acts (institutes) are judged according to their content and not according to their name, such an approach is still not fully known to the public. Therefore, there are repeated calls for the introduction of paternity leave into the Labour Code. However, paternity leave already has its place in the Labour Code in terms of its content (the right of the father of a child to time off work for the birth of the child and at the time of the birth). Paternity leave for men is already included in the Labour Code, it is just not named paternity leave. Since there is no need to introduce a duplicate institution of paternity leave for men, the amendment to the Labour Code proposes renaming parental leave for men (within the meaning of Article 166(1) of the Labour Code) as paternity leave.

As regards the issue of reimbursement of paternity leave (parental leave of the man), this leave is granted without pay under the Labour Code (however, maternity leave is also granted to the mother without pay). However, the mother is compensated for the loss of income by the provision of maternity allowance. The child's father was not entitled to the benefit until 6 weeks after the child's birth, so he could only ask his employer for unpaid leave at the birth of the child (thereby incurring a loss of income) or take paid leave. The amendment to the Labour Code introduces a maternity benefit that the father of the child will also be able to receive shortly after the birth of the child. According to the amendment to the Labour Code, the father of the child will be entitled to maternity benefit for 14 days during paternity leave until the expiry of 6 weeks from the date of the child's birth (irrespective of whether the child's mother receives maternity or parental allowance). This 14-day period counts towards the total period of 28 weeks during which the father of a child is still entitled to maternity pay while caring for one child.

As we have already mentioned, the amendment to the Labour Code is also intended to help achieve a work-life balance for employees who are parents or persons with caring responsibilities, through paternity leave. The present amendment to the Labour Code seeks to achieve a work-life balance by, among other things, introducing the right of the father of a child to paid paternity leave from the day of the child's birth, to ensure that the bond between father and child is established at the child's early age (at the time of the child's birth).

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