As of February 1, fathers in the Czech Republic can officially take a week of paid leave from work following the birth of their child. Until now, fathers had to take days out of their holiday time or make other arrangements.
Having a child is obviously a life-changing moment for any parent, and while the postnatal period is both physically and emotionally demanding it also very rewarding. Many fathers these days are at present at the birth but until now could count on being back at their job as early as the next day unless they were willing to give up holiday time or reached a special arrangement with their employer to take unpaid time off.
That is now different given new legislation which has taken effect: as of now fathers will be covered under an amendment meaning they can take seven days paid leave within six weeks of their child’s birth.
The six-week postnatal period, is an important rest period in which mums should receive maxim support and be able to bond with their baby. And it isn’t easy, given the general lack of sleep and how sleeping patterns are heavily disrupted. The reason the amendment was made was to allow fathers to help out, to be close to their partner and of course to bond with their child. In short, it can be a huge psychological boost for mums, given the difficulty of childbirth and adjustments in the days after, for the other partner to be around. Petr is a Prague resident who has applied.
“I decided to apply because I could. I am a regular employee and we will sort things out with an email to HR. My boss already knows about everything so I hope it will all work out… My wife is glad that I will be at home. Having a baby will mean me being around more at last. Having a week paid, while saving a week’s vacation, is a nice bonus.”
While parents are no doubt welcoming the change of the new opportunity, the Finance Ministry has taken a different view. Spokesman Jakub Vintrlík explains:
“This change will raise spending in the state budget by a billion crowns and will place additional burdens on employers and social security. The ministry considers other means of support already in place for families to be more effective.”
The paid leave for fathers is actually a form of sick leave, as odd as that may sound. What that means is that the week is not fully paid: the applicant is docked some funds, earning 70 percent of what he would normally get. Even then, many fathers would probably say that it is worth it.