Maternity Leave in the Czech Republic

Maternity Leave in the Czech Republic

The ins and outs, up and downs of the Czech system and how it works for expats

Maternity Leave in the Czech Republic

Maternity Leave in the Czech Republic

The ins and outs, up and downs of the Czech system and how it works for expats

Published 10.01.2012
Last updated 10.01.2012

Maybe it was the low cost of living and carefree bohemian lifestyle that initially lured you to the Czech lands, but as you’ve grown older and put down roots perhaps it’s the social welfare benefits that have kept you here. This was certainly my case after discovering that I was pregnant just as my husband and I were thinking over a move to America. Where else would I be able to stay home with our child following birth and beyond—and get paid for it? Surely not the U.S., where six weeks of unpaid maternity leave is the norm. (See how the Czech Republic stacks up against the rest of the world here.)

I initially took notice of the country’s generous maternity leave policies a year or so ago when a co-worker came down with a case of the baby bump. When I asked her how soon she planned on returning to our editorial offices she replied, to my utter amazement: “In three years.” As if sensing my disbelief, Zuzana peppered me with a few more bombshells: Not only would she be off for three years, after which she’d be returning to her old position as if she’d never left, she’d also be receiving a monthly allowance.

And now it’s my turn. Ever since the fourteenth pregnancy test I took showed positive, I’ve been sorting through the bureaucratic mire only to be rewarded with the good news that expats who have paid Czech health insurance premiums for at least 270 days prior to the commencement of maternity leave, and who hold a valid work contract, qualify for financial support. Freelancers, too, may collect maternity leave pay as long as they’ve paid Czech health insurance premiums for at least 180 days in the year prior to the commencement of maternity leave.

According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, it works like this:

Maternity leave

Female employees are entitled to 28 weeks paid maternity leave (mateřská dovolená), beginning six to eight weeks prior to birth, during which time they can collect assistance called peněžitá pomoc v mateřství (PPM). The Czech Social Security Administration (ČSSZ) disperses PPM allotments to mothers, however fathers may take over the leave, by written agreement, seven weeks after childbirth. Those lucky women who have been blessed with twins are entitled to 37 weeks total of PPM support.

For the duration of the maternity leave, you should receive about 70 percent of your salary. Financial support is calculated by the amount of social insurance (sociální pojištění) you pay, therefore the more you earn the higher your remuneration. If you’re picturing mountains of paperwork and long lines when it comes to applying for maternity assistance, rest assured that it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Simply ask your Ob/Gyn for the form, “Request for Maternity Financial Assistance” and take it to your employer who should then complete and send directly to the ČSSZ.

This handy calculator will help you estimate your PPM benefits.

Parental leave
After maternity leave comes a lengthy period of parental leave (rodičovská dovolená) when you or your spouse can choose to spend two, three, or four years at home with Junior. Support is proportionate to the length of leave you decide on. Roughly, those on the two-year plan can expect 11,400 CZK/month while those opting for three years get 7,600 CZK/month. The four-year option gets you 7,600 CZK for the first nine months, after which payments drop to 3,800 CZK. Parents of children with disabilities can take leave for seven years at 7,600 CZK/month. If you’ve got another child under 4 at home, benefits transfer to the youngest child. In two-income households, it’s common for the parent with the lower salary to go on leave.

Once the baby arrives you’ll need to apply for parental leave by filling out the relevant form at the Department of Social Support at the Employment Office (Úřad práce, státní sociální podpora); in Prague go to the Social Department of the Municipal Town hall (Místní Úřad) associated with your permanent residence address (trvalé bydliště).

As a courtesy, you may want to notify your employer in writing of your intent to take parental leave just before you go on maternity leave. You can also do this after the birth of the child if you haven’t yet decided on the length of your leave. Either way, your employer must give you your job back, the very same position you held before, once your leave comes to an end. A few parental-leave caveats: Once you’ve selected the duration of your leave, you cannot change it. Also keep in mind that while you are receiving support, children under 3 cannot be sent to school for longer than five days a month; children above 3 no more than four hours a day daily or five whole days a month.

Critiquing the system
Lucie Bilderová is a project manager for Gender Studio, o.p.s., a non-profit organization with strident criticisms of the Czech Republic’s maternity-support structure. “We find the policies discriminatory,” she says. “Maternity leave can’t be used by women without an income for the past 270 days, entrepreneurs that don’t pay health insurance, or those who are at university. These women go directly on four-year leave with the lowest social benefits.” She also says that for women on two-year leave, finding childcare when it’s time to return to work can be tricky. “There are only around a dozen creches that accept children younger than three, so if you haven’t got an income that allows you to afford childcare, it’s almost impossible to get a full-time job back.”

This may well contribute to the fact that the Czech Republic has one of the lowest parental-leave “comeback” rates in the EU. “Women in the 20–49 year age bracket with children up to 12 years old have the lowest employment rate,” says Bilderová. She goes on to explain that with the shortage of part-time jobs in the Czech Republic—according to Bilderová, the country offers the lowest number of part-time positions in Europe—parents must often choose between long-term interruption of career or full-time work with no happy medium.

And while this may leave us stuck in the same old tired conundrum of choosing between family and career, for those of us who hail from a country that sparsely supports new mothers, the Czech Republic’s pro-family stance isn't just unique, it’s one of the perks of the expatriate life.

Additional resources:

Financial Support for Maternity Leave at the Czech Social Security Administration (ČSSZ)

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Maternity-Leave Policies

Baby Online: Maternity Leave FAQ (in Czech)

Baby Online: Family Leave FAQ (in Czech)

Maternity-leave Policies Around the World Map

What are your thoughts on the Czech maternity-leave system?

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Comment from: Published: 11:36:04 30.08.2013
Plan on having a family? Then plan on covering the expenses.
LS(Guest) Published: 10:12:29 30.08.2013
Hi everyone, Does anybody know if Maternity Leave is applicable for those with short term contracts, but have been employed for more than six months? It seems that some employers hire employees on one-year contracts and simply renew them on a yearly basis. I believe this is perfectly legal up to a maximum of three years. Would the employer then have to hold the position open and also have to offer a full-time contract? I don't know how anybody could criticise this benefit, when most mothers in the UK have to return to work just weeks after giving birth. Thanks!
Bubulina(Guest) Published: 06:37:00 05.08.2013
Hi everyone, I am wondering if you have to be a resident in order to receive maternity benefits. I'm a EU resident married to a Czech, but I do not hold a residency permit. Thank you for the great article and waiting for your thoughts.
Comment from: hroch Published: 11:43:04 06.07.2013
Pages 89-93 - excellent Czech maternity / parental leave descriptions + international comparisons
Terezia(Guest) Published: 10:05:53 21.06.2012
Hi, as far as I know, your current job position must be held for you at your work only for 6 months from the time you leave for maternal leave (not from the time baby is born) - it is by law. You can stay at home for up to 3 years, however, after those 6 months, the employer must keep a place for you, but not the same position. Sometimes this might be a little problem when you are coming back to work - there is someone else on your previous position and the employer offers you the different one. Or, if they are so generous, they can give you the same position - but it is up to them, not by law.
Saraha(Guest) Published: 04:29:39 24.04.2012
“What has happened to family values?※ – The libs and Democrats have directed overseen to their slowly decay for decades. We need more maternity allowance
Zvonkova(Guest) Published: 01:23:52 03.04.2012
Hello, thanks for the article. Isn't it necessary to have trvaly pobyt in order to get rodicovska dovolena? Thanks
Comment from: kenny 147 Published: 01:34:43 07.02.2012
Hi everyone, I am from Africa but I live and work in Czech Republic, I have been working for more than 5 years here and I do have a residence permit. My wife came over from Africa and gave birth here (she had to go and come back again because of Visa Issue) She got back when the child was about 9 months old and I applied for the Parental leave benefit, which was granted but I was refused other options except the 4 years option which I did not like as I would have love to have it for 2 years. So, we are currently getting 3,800czk for the child Also, I transfered the leave to my wife as she was not working and has never worked in CZ before. I was paid money for 1 day for taking care of the baby before the transfer process(this was based on the form I filled at my place of work) I would like to know or ask the following questions - Should I be entitle to more than what I am getting at the moment taking or less or is there something else I need to apply for? - Currently we are expecting our second baby, will the arrival of the second baby change anything? - We intend to get our child (she is 2 years old now) enrolled into school when she will be three, will that also change anything? NB: My wife has never worked in the Czech Republic before and at the moment she is waiting for her long term permit. Thanks
Nia(Guest) Published: 09:07:10 27.01.2012
Hi everyone, I live in Czech republic since 13yrs. child. Currently after 18yrs. of living here I finally managed Czech citizenship. I cannot explain my fears on what it takes to be mother, which stresses me more and more as I m getting 33yrs. old and actually I dont think that one income may help any family to survive if you are normal human being. I also cannot imagine what it may take to have to leave the child with babysitter and where such can be found actually in Czech republic. Then arises the question how much such babysitter costs and from which income to pay her? Finally I put myself the question if there is any state benefit when you decide to have 2 children instead having only one child and doom him/her in growing on his own without a brother or a sister. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. :) Nia
Ferda(Guest) Published: 07:45:51 12.01.2012
Americans and Brits just cannot stand the thought of admitting their system is positively troglodyte, especially compared to some third-world hellhole like Czechoslo-what? To stay mentally balanced, they than spend hours and hours trying to come up with some heavily ideologically loaded explanation of why their system is actually great and the Czech system, of which hundreds of thousand of women and children benefit every day, is bad. Ms Schoultz, who is a lobbyist paid by multinationals whose interest is exploiting the local workforce as cheaply as possible, should at least be honest about her motives. She is a nice reminder of what has been long clear, namely that feminism is in effect promoting the interests of global financial oligarchy.
Gogo(Guest) Published: 12:39:27 12.01.2012
If you think after cancelling maternity benefits you will pay less taxes, you could no be more wrong. Look at Germany and Belgium for example. They have even higher taxation and zero maternity benefits. Forget the US where husband earns enough to support the whole family. It is a different reality. Relax people, the benefits the mothers get are thousands time less than what they spend on useless NATO annual "participation fee". Children are our future tax payers. Think a bit. I own two small companies and two of my employees went on maternity leave. One for a year, another for two. I have no problem hiring fresh graduates for the time they are away, plus the state covers all the expenses.
Comment from: Published: 10:35:18 11.01.2012
I could not agree more with CzechingIn. From the point of view of a small business, this deeply conservative and populist maternity and parental leave system is expensive and inconvenient for employers and ensures men are preferred over women in hiring practices, especially at the higher management and pay levels. In terms of women's and children's welfare, two incomes and modern, progressive, affordable childcare for the under 3s should at least be available as an alternative, with tax incentives for employers to provide private childcare facilities in the workplace or quality outsourcing, and more part-time jobs. This may be costly at first, but would surely benefit the Czech economy in the mid to long run, and provide real choices to those parents who want to work and want to do the best for their children. At the moment, there is effectively no choice, for men or women, about their "proper role" in this regard, and nothing will change until the Government takes the initiative to legislate for it. This is actually happening, through proposals put forward by the Family Policy Unit of the Ministry of Labour, but we will see how far it gets. Therefore, whilst the perks of raising children in the Czech Republic will likely remain, those of us who do not see them as wholly benign are looking forward to (and actively advocating for) Government policy changes and private employer initiatives to address the current un-balanced situation.
ferda(Guest) Published: 09:48:58 10.01.2012
Pathetic feminist critique. Only shows that promoting women's welfare is the last thing feminists are actually interested in.
Comment from: Published: 10:39:37 10.01.2012
Whilst these policies may be supportive of a more traditional family life, they have overwhelmingly negative knock-on affects for most working women. Several companies I know of require staff being 'independent contractors' rather than employees - thus circumventing the need to provide ANY employee benefits, including maternity cover. There is a pervasive atmosphere in several work places that employers would rather hire and promote men over their female counterparts, in order to avoid holding a job open for three years for someone who may or may not come back to the work place. From working in a number of countries, I have never encountered such open gender discrimination as I have here - see here: I suspect what I say will not be terribly popular but the bottom line is that these policies are great for mothers who also want the 'cache' of being employed. They are however, dreadful for the gender gap in the Czech Republic generally, terrible for small businesses, and frustrating for women who want to progress in their careers at the same rate as men. It also contributes to the lack of availability of affordable childcare.