Estonia adopts further reforms of its parental leave and benefits system to better reconcile work and family life | Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC


[co-author: Anu Kirss]*

The last phase of legislative changes to the Estonian Family Allowance Act is due to enter into force in July 2020.

Legislative changes to the law on family allowances were approved in 2017, but the changes were introduced gradually. The main objective of the changes is to promote a more equitable distribution of the burden of care between parents and to introduce more flexibility into the system to help parents, especially mothers, to better balance work and private life.

The three most important changes in the reform are:

  • Effective March 1, 2018, the employment income threshold during parental leave was increased to one and a half times the national average gross salary. This is the amount that can be drawn from work during parental leave without the parental allowance being reduced.
  • As of July 1, 2020, the period of payment of parental allowance will have increased flexibility allowing employees to stop and start payment of parental allowance according to their needs. “The payment of parental allowance can be suspended per calendar month and resumed at the will of the parent until the child reaches the age of three.
  • Also from July 1, 2020, the leave system will start granting and paying a new type of parental allowance—additional parental allowance for fathers (ie a “daddy month”). This is a non-transferable benefit for fathers, meaning that if the father does not use this part of the benefit, it will not be transferred to the mother. This parental benefit can be used in whole or in part from 30 days before the estimated due date until the child turns three years old.

If the father is an employee, this service will be accompanied by 30-day paternity leave instead of the current 10-day holiday. The use of paternity leave will be recorded in the employment register. If the father is not employed (for example if he is unemployed, self-employed or under a civil contract), he is not entitled to paternity leave, but “he is always entitled to additional parental allowance for children. fathers for a period of 30 calendar days. “

The new “daddy month” system will only apply to children born on or after July 1, 2020, or later, regardless of the child’s estimated due date. However, for the new system to apply, the full paternity leave taken under the new system must begin after July 1, 2020.

If a father wishes to stay at home with his child for more than 30 days and receive parental allowance (standard), this possibility will continue to exist in the future. If the child is at least 70 days old, it is up to the mother and father to decide which of them will stay with the child and receive parental allowance.


The reforms aim to balance the needs of employees and employers, and are also expected to have a positive effect on gender equality. It remains to be seen whether the introduction of a “daddy month” will motivate more fathers to take parental leave.

* TGS Baltic

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