Currently in the Republic of Moldova there is no paternity leave offered to fathers at child's birth, even though this is a frequent practice in the UE. At this time, there is a legislative initiative of the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection and Family, which was approved by the Government. This initiative includes amendments to the Moldovan Labor Code, which is now being sent to the Parliament for examination. In case the amended version is approved, fathers in Moldova would be allowed for the first time to take a 2 weeks paternity leave; this will be possible to be taken within 56 days from the time the child is born and will be paid by the employer. This proposal comes to support families with children, in the context when the birth rate in Moldova is roughly 11 births per thousand inhabitants (in EU the birth rate ranges from a maximum of 16.8 births in Ireland to 8.2 in Germany), and also to ensure more involvement from both parents in terms of childcare and education of children.
Paternity leave differs from childcare leave until the age of 1.5 or 3 years (which can be taken by one of the parents or grandparents; in some countries the latter is called ‘parental’ leave, being a benefit offered to parents to share). The two weeks’ paternity leave will be offered simultaneously to the father when the mother is on maternity leave, so that the father can provide support for the child, the wife and the whole family, getting the extra-time paid leave for this purpose.
The European experience of labor regulation in this area is diverse. In Portugal, the parental paid leave lasts five days and is compulsory, in Romania – five days (plus another 10 days under certain conditions), 14 days in Poland and one month at request in Lithuania. In Romania, the parental leave is paid from employer’s payroll funds, while in Lithuania it is covered from State social insurance funds.
Additional recommendations for the Republic of Moldova:
- This is a welcomed initiative to support families with children that offers parents the possibility to take care of the child together, while the incomes required to invest in the child’s health and care are being retained;
- Once the concept of support for families with children and gender equality are becoming promoted as state level policies, it would be advisable that the expenses for paternity leave offered to fathers for two weeks to be fully or partially compensated by the state (e.g. the first week from the two). Ideally, it shall be paid by employers from CNAS funds (National Agency for Social Security), as a partial return of the contributions fathers make in this fund each month of their professional activity. In case the government would participate in paying the funds for the paternity leave (as practiced in Belgium, Lithuania and other countries), a greater use of this benefit is more likely to happen, since employers will no longer have an interest in discouraging employees to make a formal request for such leave. Otherwise, we can expect a different level of use of this benefit in public and private sector, despite possible sanctions which can be imposed for failing to respect the employees’ rights;
- If, due to financial constraints of the social insurance fund, the state is not able to pay this leave (although it would be preferable), then the practice of other countries should be considered, where the employer covers the leave only if the employee has worked at the company for at least six months before the child’s birth, and the amount paid is calculated based on the average wage in the past six months. If the employee worked for the company for less than 6 months, then the employer is not required to cover 100% from monthly salary, but must provide at least 50% of the average monthly salary specified in the employment contract. This measure is particularly important for small businesses’ budget or for enterprises who hire people on short term or seasonal work;
- Once the paid paternity leave is not mandatory within the current version of the bill, the legislation could also include a provision that will make possible requests from employees for “integral or partial leave, at the will of the employee”, assuming there can be situations when the father is not able to take a full-time leave, thus offering him the opportunity to take a part-time one;
- It is recommended for paternity leave to be expressly mentioned as a lucrative period, which contributes to the seniority and other benefits for the employed father (as regulated for maternal leave). Similarly, it is important to note that this right shall be granted regardless of the child being born in a marriage or outside of it, based on the child’s birth certificate where the father of the child is mentioned (currently in Moldova every 4th child is born outside the marriage);
- Additional practices on gender equality are recommended to be applied in the future for other types of leave, such as motivating parents to split the partially paid parental available leave for children up to 3 years of age - stating that at least a fraction of it (1 to 2 months) to be taken by another parent than the default one. If not taken, the parent who took most of the leave will return to work or chooses an unpaid leave for those 1-2 months. This practice is used in Romania (minimum 1 month) or Sweden (minimum two months), thus encouraging more fathers to take voluntary leave, especially in Sweden - which provides additional cash bonus to those families where both parents “shared” the leave, when meeting certain requirements.
Program Director „Political economy & advocacy” EXPERT-GRUP