Working mothers - what privileges can they count on?

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Working mothers combine being a full-time parent with a career. It is not an easy task, therefore the legislator has provided for a number of facilities and privileges for them. In addition to the most significant 500+ years, working mothers can count on many reasons already during pregnancy and taking care of the child. Additional days off, breaks for feeding a child, prohibition of overtime work are just some of the privileges provided for mothers who try to combine raising their children with the development of their careers.

It should be added that working mothers can count on help not only in the field of labor law. There are also various social programs that support mothers, such as the above-mentioned 500+ or ​​baby shower and parental benefit. Also in terms of taxation, the legislator provided for privileges in the form of tax breaks. As we can see, the state does not leave mothers to themselves, and professionally active women can count on the most "facilitations". What specific privileges can working mothers expect? How many of these are general support programs and how many are only available to active mothers? We will answer these questions in this article.

Protection of working pregnant mothers

The basic act protecting professionally active mothers is the Labor Code Act (hereinafter referred to as the Labor Code). Pursuant to the provisions of the above Act, the employer has no right to release a woman from the moment she becomes pregnant until the day of childbirth, and also while she is on maternity, parental or upbringing leave. The exception is when there are grounds for termination of an employment contract without notice under Art. 52 of the Labor Code or liquidation of the workplace.

Also, the employer may not order pregnant employees to work at night, i.e. between 9.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. Moreover, a pregnant employee should not perform overtime work (i.e. stay at work longer than specified in the employment contract). The employer may not post a pregnant employee without her express consent and employ her during interrupted working time.

Additionally, art. 176 of the Code of Labor The list of burdensome work is included in the appendix to the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of April 3, 2017 on the list of burdensome, dangerous or harmful work for pregnant women and breastfeeding women.

Working mothers and the right to additional leaves

It is obvious that a pregnant woman and in the months following the birth of her baby may not be able to perform her professional duties. The Labor Code has provided for such situations, therefore working mothers can count on additional vacation days. What benefits are we talking about?

The first of the "holidays" that working mothers are entitled to is sick leave (the so-called L4), which guarantees a higher amount of sickness allowance, as well as an extended period of this allowance. This is regulated by Art. 11 sec. 2 of the Act on cash benefits from social insurance in case of sickness and maternity. For the period of illness during pregnancy, you are entitled to a sickness benefit in the amount of 100% of the benefit basis. The type of illness does not matter here, the benefit is guaranteed regardless of the cause of the inability to work. Moreover, the benefit period is extended from 182 to 270 days.

Another, now "full-fledged" leave is the maternity leave. The time of its provision depends on the number of children born during one delivery. And so in the basic dimension - with the birth of one child it is 20 weeks; in the case of the birth of twins - 31 weeks; with triplets - 33 weeks; quadruplets entitle to 35 weeks of leave; in the case of the birth of five or more children in one delivery - 37 weeks of leave.

It should be noted that the mother may take six weeks of leave before giving birth. Additionally, the child must obligatorily use 14 weeks, while the remaining six weeks may be used by the child's father (in order to take this leave, the child's father must be employed full-time, run a business or work under a mandate contract).

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Next is parental leave. If the mother has used the maternity leave, she has the right to take parental leave. It can last either 32 or 34 weeks, depending on the number of babies born. It can be used once or in parts. However, it must be used by the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 6. The leave may be taken immediately after the end of the maternity leave or maternity allowance. A working mother can use it up to 4 parts - in installments one after the other or immediately after using the maternity allowance. No part of the parental leave may be shorter than 8 weeks. The first part of the parental leave is an exception in the case of the birth of one child in one childbirth - then it may not be shorter than 6 weeks.

It is worth noting that parental leave of up to 16 weeks may be granted on a date not falling directly after the previous part of this leave or not falling directly after using the maternity allowance for a period corresponding to a part of this leave. However, it should be remembered that the number of parts of leave used in this system reduces the number of parts of the parental leave.

For the first 6 weeks, the allowance is 100% of the base and the remainder is 60%. However, if a working mother decides to use the entire parental leave immediately after the maternity leave, she will receive 80% of the allowance basis throughout the entire period of maternity and parental leave.

Subsequently, a working mother may take a childcare leave. This leave may be used until the child is 6 years old, and in the case of a disabled child - until the age of 18. The parental leave is 36 months, however the maximum period which a working mother may take advantage of is 35 months. One month is for the other parent only. The situation may also be the opposite - the father takes 35 months of leave, and the mother takes only one. The leave can be used in a maximum of 5 parts.

As a rule, during the parental leave, there is no entitlement to maternity allowance. However, an employee may apply for a childcare allowance, which in 2020 amounts to PLN 400. This allowance is due to the mother provided that she does not receive any other social benefits, has worked for at least 6 months before the leave, does not perform any paid work during the leave (e.g. under a contract for specific work), and the child does not attend an educational institution (e.g. . before school).

Privileges after returning to work

Once the mother decides to return to professional activity, she can count on further facilitations on the part of the legislator.

Pursuant to Art. 187 of the Labor Code, a female worker who is breastfeeding her child has the right to two half-hour breaks at work, included in the working time. An employee who is breastfeeding more than one child is also entitled to two breaks, 45 minutes each. If the working hours are less than 6 hours, employees are entitled to one 30-minute break for breastfeeding. Unfortunately, employees employed for less than 4 hours a day are not entitled to a breastfeeding break.

In turn, art. 188 of the Labor Code provides for additional days off for childcare. Namely, working mothers raising a child under the age of 14 have the right to be released from work for 16 hours or 2 days, while retaining the right to remuneration, during a calendar year. However, for a part-time employee, the above hourly range is determined proportionally. It is important that there is no need to state a reason in the vacation application.

Additionally, similarly to the time of a pregnant woman, a worker who brings up a child up to the age of 4 may not work at night or overtime, unless she gives her consent. The employer should also not delegate such an employee to travel outside the city where the workplace is located.

Cash benefits for a child

Mothers, not only those working, can count on a number of social benefits for the birth and upbringing of children. As this article focuses on working mothers and these benefits are general benefits, they will only be briefly described.

Child benefits in the amounts established for 2020 are set out below:

  1. baby shower - it amounts to PLN 1,000 and is paid once. It is granted to people with health insurance, if the income per one family member does not exceed PLN 1,922 net per month;

  2. kosiniakowe - is 1000 PLN per month and is paid for 12 months in the case of the birth of one child, up to 71 months in the case of the birth of more than 4 children during one childbirth. Kosiniakowe is entitled to regardless of the amount of income.It can only be collected by persons who, due to their professional status, are not entitled to annual parental leave, i.e. farmers, persons employed under civil law contracts, students or unemployed persons;

  3. 500+ program - PLN 500 per month and currently this amount is paid for each child up to the age of 18, regardless of the family's financial situation;

  4. family allowances - there are a number of different types of allowances. The right to the allowance depends on the parents meeting the income criterion (i.e. the monthly amount per one family member), the general one in the amount of PLN 674, or in the case of a family with a disabled child - PLN 764. Families whose income exceeds a given income threshold will not be deprived of the allowance - benefits are reduced by the amount by which this threshold was exceeded. For example, we can distinguish:

    1. family allowance for a child up to the age of 5 - PLN 95 per month;

    2. family allowance for a child aged 5 to 18 - PLN 124 per month;

    3. family allowance for a child aged 18 to 24 - PLN 135 per month;

  5. there are also many supplements to family allowances or nursing benefits. The possibility of receiving them and their amount depends on the financial situation of the family, the age of the child or the child's degree of disability.

Benefits for Working Mothers - Summary

As it was emphasized in the introduction, reconciling the duties of a parent and an employee is not an easy task, especially for mothers, as they survive the period of pregnancy and (in most cases) breastfeeding.

Our country, showing great support for working mothers, introduced many legal institutions aimed at securing the interests of professionally active mothers, both before and after childbirth. If more children are born during childbirth, these benefits will be proportionally increased. Parents (including working mothers) can also count on financial support from the State Treasury, both paid in cash and in the form of tax breaks.