Amendment to the Parental Protection and Family Benefits Act
The new Parental Protection and Family Benefits Act (hereinafter: the ZSDP-1) entered into force on 29 April 2014. The primary objectives of the amendment are the transposition of European legislation into Slovenian law and the desire to introduce measures that more equally distribute parental protection and childcare between both parents. Furthermore, with the addition of parental rights, the legislative body strives to create conditions to increase the birth rate. The proposed amendment transposes Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 on parental leave and Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.
The new act thus revises the parental leave policies associated with the birth of a child. For the purpose of harmonising terminology, the current terms "porodniški dopust", "posvojiteljski dopust" and "dopust za nego in varstvo otroka" are renamed "materinski dopust"(maternity leave), "očetovski dopust" (paternity leave) and "starševski dopust" (paternal leave). While maternity leave remains the same (105 days), the length of parental and paternity leave has been amended. The act defines parental leave as the right of each parent, 130 days in length, whereby the father can transfer the entire leave to the mother, while the 30 days to which a mother is entitled of the total 130 days are non-transferable. The envisaged paternal leave is set at 30 days, 15 days of which must be utilised by the time a child has reached six months of age, while the remainder should be used by the time the child completes the first grade of primary school. Now, a father can use his leave in the form of full or partial absence from work. The introduction of paternity leave in this duration will be achieved gradually and depends on economic growth in the Republic of Slovenia. Taking into account the aforementioned facts, the entire duration of leave related to child birth has now been extended from 12 to 12.5 months.
Adoptive parent leave has been abolished as an independent category due to the transposition of Council Directive 2010/18/EU, as the introduction of the act equalises the rights associated with the birth of a child with the rights associated with a child's adoption. The act therefore does not distinguish between the rights of adoptive parents and those of biological parents, as adopters will now be entitled to parental leave in the same length as biological parents. Leave of absence begins within 15 days from a child’s placement with a family for reasons of adoption or 15 days from the completion of the adoption process, while the same rules apply for using the remaining period of leave as that of biological parents.
As a new feature, the act also introduces wage compensation during the breastfeeding break, to which mothers who are employed full-time are entitled, i.e. until a child reaches nine months of age based on a certificate issued by a paediatrician. Wage compensation is calculated for one hour daily in proportion to the minimum wage in the Republic of Slovenia (around EUR 4.5 per hour according to April data). An employer will not be additionally burdened based on this new right, as compensation will be paid from collected social contributions. The aforementioned provision will enter into force already on 1 September 2014.
Other new features introduced by the ZSDP-1 include: the right of one of the parents who cares and looks after two or more children to part-time work, i.e. until the youngest child has completed the first grade of primary school; a 20% increase in the extraordinary child benefit for children raised in a single-parent family (the child benefit is thus increased for 30%), as well as the equalisation of the status of social parents (parents which actually take care and protect the well-being of a child but are not his or her biological parents) with that of biological parents.