Parental leave


Parental leave is a parental entitlement following maternity leave. It is not compulsory – one doesn’t have to use it. Parental leave is granted to parents with sickness insurance: they have an employment contract or pay for sickness insurance. Both mother and father are entitled to it. Parental leave is also granted to adoptive parents.

It can be divided into parts. They may not be more than four parts, nor may they be shorter than eight weeks. They must also appear directly one after the other. According to the Labour Code, parents may take parental leave no later than six years after childbirth. To sum up – after the birth of one child, 52 weeks of leave can be used: 20 weeks – of maternity leave and 32 weeks – of parental leave.

After taking parental leave, the worker shall return to work for an existing post or, failing that, for a post equivalent to that held before the start of the leave or for another post corresponding to their professional qualifications, for the remuneration they would have received had they not taken the leave.

Parental leave – by whom can it be used?

Parental leave is guaranteed to:

  • one of the parents (32 weeks),
  • alternately to both parents (32 weeks splits between them).
  • simultaneously to both parents (periods of leave taken by the mother and the father are aggregated and cannot exceed 32 weeks with one child).

Parental and maternity leave

The concept of parental and maternity leave are often confused.

They are not the same. Maternity leave is compulsory. It lasts 20 weeks when one child is born and extends when there is a multiple pregnancy (two children – 31 weeks, three children – 33 weeks, four children – 35 weeks, five or more children at one birth – 37 weeks).

It is possible to resign from maternity leave, but only after at least 14 weeks after giving birth. Then the father can use the rest of the time if he submits an appropriate application to the employer.

Parental leave can last up to 32 weeks and, in the case of more children – 34. One can be on paid leave for 52 weeks after childbirth.

Parental leave – how much is it?

Parental leave is not paid leave. However, one is entitled to maternity benefits during it. It is paid monthly by ZUS. One can combine the leave with work, up to half-time. Then the benefit and remuneration for work are paid proportionately to the working time and leave ratio.

At the beginning of the parental leave, one gets a maternity benefit amounting to 100% of the benefit assessment.

  • The benefit in this amount is settled for six weeks in the case of the birth of one child or adoption of one child and eight weeks if there is more than one kid.
  • 8 weeks of parental leave in the case of the birth of two or more children and the case of simultaneous admission to the care of two or more children,
  • 3 weeks of parental leave in the case of adoption if the insured person is entitled to maternity benefit for the period corresponding to the period of leave under the conditions of maternity leave with a minimum of 9 weeks. [nie wiadomo kogo to dotyczy, ratunku]

After these periods, maternity allowance is 60% of the benefit assessment basis. If the woman applies for full-time parental leave within 21 days after childbirth, the maternity benefit equals 80% of the benefit assessment basis throughout the maternity and parental leave.

How to take parental leave?

One can take parental leave only after maternity leave or when the mother doesn’t get maternity benefits anymore. One has to apply in writing for it to the employer (no later than 21 days in advance).

Parental leave for father – significant changes

Amendments to the Labour Code extending parental leave enter into force this year. Fathers will enjoy it longer – the amendment guarantees them additional eight weeks of childcare. The above changes are related to implementing the so-called EU work-life balance directive by 2 August. It aims at securing equal opportunities for women and men in the labour market.