Family leave

An employee has a right to family leave. Maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental leave are tied to maternity, special maternity, paternity and parental leave benefit periods. Child-care leave may be obtained for the purposes of child care until the child turns three. Family leave also includes partial and temporary child-care leave.

The employer must be informed of maternity and paternity leave at least two months prior to the beginning of the leave. However, with regard to family leave that lasts for a maximum period of 12 days, a one-month period of notification is sufficient. A one-month period of notification is also possible when informing the employer about parental leave in situations where informing the employer of the leave two months in advance is not possible due to a spouse going to work and the resultant need to arrange for a child’s care. In such cases, however, relying on a month’s period of notification always requires that the employer’s production and service operations are not met with serious adverse effects as a result.

An employee has the right to take maternity leave earlier than intended and change the time of paternity leave to be taken in connection with childbirth, provided this is necessary due to the child’s birth or the health of the child, mother or father. The employer must be informed of such changes as soon as possible. In other cases, the employee may change the time of the leave of which he or she has informed the employer according to the one-month period of notification, but only for a justified reason. Such reasons include unforeseeable and material changes in the requirements for the child’s care which the employee cannot have taken into account when informing the employer of the leave. Examples include a serious injury, long-term illness or death of the child or the other parent, the parents’ divorce or some other change that has taken place in the requirements for the child’s care.

The length of maternity, paternity, parental and child-care leave is determined in the Health Insurance Act. Usually maternity leave starts 30 days before the birth.

An employer does not have a statutory obligation to pay salary for periods of family leave. Many collective agreements have sections according to which the parent is paid their full salary for the first three months of maternity leave, first week of paternity leave and for the first three days of temporary child-care leave.

Maternity, paternity and parental allowances are paid by Kela. Further information on maternity, paternity and parental allowance is available on Kela’s website.

If a pregnant person is engaged in particularly risk-prone work, one is entitled to special maternity leave provided that the employer is unable to find a risk-free position for her for the period of pregnancy. If you are concerned about health risks at work during pregnancy you can contact The Centre for Occupational Safety and ask for advice. Contact information for the Centre for Occupational Safety (Only in Finnish)

Your employment relationship does not end due to family leave. After the family leave comes to an end, the employee has primarily the right to return to the same job they had before the family leave. If the same job no longer exists, the employer must offer another similar position. It is recommendable to make a list of work duties and responsibilities before the start of family leave, so it is later clear to all parties which job the employee is returning to.

It is not allowed to terminate employment during maternity, paternity or parental leave unless the company’s operation stops altogether and all employment relationships are terminated. It is also forbidden to discriminate employees for any reasons related to pregnancy, family leave or other family situations. If you feel that you have been treated negatively due to family leave or pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact your shop steward and the Union. For further information see Ombudsman for Equality website.

If a child under 10 years falls ill, one of the parents can stay home in order to organise care for the child or to take care of the child. Temporary child-care leave is maximum of four workdays at a time. The employer must be notified as soon as possible.

An employee is entitled to a temporary absence from work if his or her presence at home or somewhere else is necessary due to an unforeseeable and compelling reason attributable to an illness or accident that has met his or her family. The employer must be notified of the absence and the reason for it as soon as possible.

If an employee’s absence is necessary because a family member or someone else close to the employee needs special care, the employer must try to organise work in such a way as to give the employee a chance to be absent from work for a determined period of time. The employer and employee agree on the duration and other arrangements of such leave.