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About parental leave and child leave for employers

Employers are welcome to watch the webinar organised by the Social Insurance Board in co-operation with PARE where we introduce the changes coming into effect on 1 April from, in particular, the point of view of employers and HR managers.

Medical and social workers are welcome to watch the webinar introducing changes either in Estonian or Russian.

Leave calculation

Does the time spent on paternity, maternity, parental, or adoptive parent leave count towards the annual holiday calculation?

Yes, the time serving as the basis for the right to grant annual holiday includes both the time worked and the time spent on leave, except for parental leave and holiday without pay granted by agreement of the parties. Therefore, as in the pre-April system, the number of annual holiday days will not be reduced by the number of days spent on maternity, paternity, child and adoptive parent leave. Only the days spent on parental leave (formerly child care leave) are not included in overall annual holiday calculation.
Although employment is considered to be suspended during maternity and paternity leave, according to subsection 68 (2) of the Employment Contracts Act, the corresponding period is still included in the time serving as the basis for the right to grant annual holiday.

Child leave

What does the employer need to do when child leave is requested? Is the employer allowed to refuse to grant child leave to an employee?

When an employee plans their child leave in our self-service portal, we automatically notify the employer thereof via the e-mail address provided by the employee in the planning process. If the employer accepts the child leave application, they do not have to take any further steps. If the employer has the grounds to refuse to grant leave, the employer needs to send us a notice thereof via e-mail within five days and we will inform the employee of the refusal to grant leave. If the employer does not send us a notice of refusal within five days of receiving the leave application notification from us, the leave of employee will be approved automatically, at the latest one day before the start of leave.

In practice, however, there may be situations where child leave has been included in holiday schedule and the employee applies for child leave for a different period than was agreed or does not follow the terms for advance notice in submitting the child leave application. In this context, please note that we do not check or have an overview of the holiday schedule agreements made between the employer and employee or whether the parties have agreed on more favourable terms for advance notice of leave for the employee (e.g. an agreement allowing the employee to apply for leave with an advance notice of less than 14 calendar days).

A refusal to grant leave by the employer does not prevent the employee from applying for leave again (following the above terms for advance notice).

Does the employer have to keep a record of how many days of child leave the employee has already used and how many days they are still entitled to use?

No, the employer is not required to keep such records. Since, in the future, the employee will plan child leave through our self-service portal, we will have an overview of how many days of child leave the employee is entitled to use, if any. The main objective of changing the application process to be in our self-service portal is to automate the information system as much as possible so that we can have all the data necessary to decide on the granting of child leave. This allows the concerns of employees and employers to be minimised, for example, with regard to proving the right to child leave or how many days of child leave the employee is still entitled to use.

When does the employer have the right to refuse to grant leave?

In this respect, we would like to remind employees that child leave and child leave for parents of a disabled child can only be used on working days.

When planning the leave in the self-service portal, all calendar days are available for the employee in calendar view; however, when planning their leave, the employee must know their working days and plan the leave on these exact dates. All the calendar days are shown as available in the self-service portal because people work according to different schedules and each calendar day may be a working day for someone, thus we cannot set any restrictions.

Therefore, if the employee plans their child leave on a day off, it definitely serves as a basis for the employer to refuse to grant child leave. The employer also has the right to refuse to grant leave if the employee submits their application too late, e.g. later than 14 calendar days before the start of the leave.

Nevertheless, there are a limited number of cases in which the employer can refuse to grant child leave. More specifically, refusal to grant child leave is possible in the following cases:

  • The leave was added to the holiday schedule but the employee applies for it in the Social Insurance Board for a different period than scheduled and the employer does not agree with it (i.e. if leave has been added to the holiday schedule, the schedule may only be amended by agreement between the employer and employee) (subsection 69 (4) of Employment Contracts Act);
  • The employer has an unforeseen substantial work organisation-related emergency, in particular for the prevention of damage, which does not allow the leave to be fulfilled (i.e. exceptional circumstances which cannot be resolved by means other than calling the employee in for work and revising the working time schedule) (subsection 69 (5) of the Employment Contracts Act);
  • The employee notifies the employer of their use of leave less days in advance than required by law, i.e. generally 14 calendar days (subsection 69 (3) of Employment Contracts Act); however, in exceptional cases, the term for advance notice is longer (e.g. subsections 63 (9) and 61 (8) of Employment Contracts Act entering into force in April);
  • The employer has the right to submit other objections arising from law with regard to specific leaves (e.g. if a father wishes to use paternity leave in a part shorter than seven calendar days, the employer has the right to refuse to grant paternity leave according to subsection 60 (1) of Employment Contracts Act; or, for example, if the conditions set out in section 63 of Employment Contracts Act entering into force in April have not been met: it is highly unlikely that there is incorrect information about already used days of leave, etc. in the information system, however such cases would also serve as a basis for objection).