When can an employee take a childcare leave?


An employee who is also a parent may enjoy various privileges provided for in the labor law. One of such rights is childcare leave. It is worth knowing when an employee is entitled to, what is the dimension of this for one parent and what are the consequences of using it.

Who is entitled to parental leave?

An employee who has worked for at least 6 months may apply for a parental leave. It is not about the period of employment in one workplace, but about the total length of employment under a contract of employment also with other employers. A leave for personal care of a child is not available to persons employed under a mandate contract or a specific specific task contract. This is a privilege only for the employment relationship.

Dimension of a childcare leave

The pool of 36 months could be defined as "35 + 1" - this is how the division into exclusive and joint leave entitlement looks like.This means that one parent may use a maximum of 35 months of leave, and the other is entitled to one month of parental leave. It is not possible to give your share to the other parent - if it is not used, then it is forfeited.

An exceptional situation is the death of the other parent or the deprivation of parental rights (this also applies to parents whose parental rights have been restricted or suspended). If, from a legal or technical point of view, a child can only be looked after by one parent, he or she is entitled to 36 months of parental leave. The rules for determining the parental leave limit are the same for everyone, regardless of whether the child is healthy or disabled. Parents may take parental leave at the same time. However, in such a situation, the total length of the leave may not exceed 36 months.

Childcare leave and the child's age

Pursuant to Art. 186 § 2 of the Labor Code, parents may use the childcare leave until the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 6. In the case of disabled children, this period is extended to the age of 18. Importantly, this leave does not have to be used in full, it can be divided into a maximum of 5 parts. If we decide to take the childcare leave for the first time when the child is 3 years old, the length of the childcare leave will be automatically reduced - the leave will be valid only until the child is 6 years old, regardless of the amount of leave used.

Application for parental leave

According to the current regulations in force, the application must be submitted to the employer 21 days before the planned commencement of the leave. If the employee did not meet the specified deadline for submitting the leave application, the employer is obliged to grant this leave no later than on the 21st day after the employee submits the application. In the event of resignation from the planned parental leave, the employee may withdraw the leave application, but no later than 7 days before the planned start of the leave.

Settlement of contributions for an employee on parental leave

Childcare leave is a leave for the period of which the employee will not receive any remuneration or allowance. However, when exercising this right, the employee's pension and health insurance contributions are financed from the state budget.

The basis of the contribution rate for the childcare leave is the average monthly remuneration due for the 12 months preceding the month of the start of the leave. The basis thus established cannot be:

  • higher than 60% of the forecast average monthly salary (the basis for a large ZUS),
  • lower than 75% of the minimum wage amount.

In the case of full-time employees who have a guaranteed minimum wage, the basis for the contribution for parental leave should be the amount of the minimum wage. For part-time workers with a pro-rata minimum wage, the base amount cannot be lower than 75% of the minimum wage.

Example 1.

Ms Ula is employed full time and her salary is equal to the minimum wage. In December 2020, she starts a childcare leave. The basis for calculating contributions in its case will be equal to:

  • PLN 2600 from January 2020
  • 2800 PLN from January 2021

Example 2.

Ms Asia works part time as an office assistant. At the same time, he has a minimum wage proportional to his full-time job, i.e. PLN 1,400. In June, Ms. Asia is planning to go on vacation. The basis for the calculation of contributions on a childcare leave may not be lower than 75% of remuneration, therefore contributions from the state budget in 2021 will be set at PLN 2,100.

It is important that in the event of a job change, when determining the basis for the 12 calendar months preceding the childcare leave, the salary due both before and after the change in working time is taken into account. The commencement of the childcare leave during the month results in a proportional calculation of the basis for calculating contributions financed by the state budget. The proportional determination is made by dividing the monthly basis by the number of calendar days in a month and multiplying it by the number of days of leave.

Work during the childcare leave

While taking the parental leave, the employee may work for his or her own or another employer, provided that it does not interfere with caring for the child.

Contributions from the state budget are financed only if, apart from parental leave, the employee has no other title to be covered by insurance. Taking up gainful employment during the childcare leave will result in the cessation of paying contributions for personal care for a child and the need to cover such a person with all compulsory insurance for employment.

Child care leave may be interrupted at any time provided the employee obtains the consent of the employer. If the subordinate does not get a work permit at any time, he should notify his workplace no later than 30 days before the planned date of resignation from the parental leave.

In addition, an employee entitled to parental leave may submit an application for a reduction in working time to at least half-time for the period in which he could take the childcare leave. Such an application must be made at least 21 days before starting work.

The employer may not terminate the employment relationship with the person who has submitted an application for:

  • childcare leave - until the end of the leave,
  • reduction of the job - until the day of returning to the standard working time, but not longer than for 12 months.

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Child care leave reduces the amount of annual leave

The holiday leave limit for a given calendar year may be reduced proportionally by the parental leave, if:

  • this leave lasted at least 1 month,
  • the employee returns from this leave during the year.

The annual leave is not reduced in the year in which the employee begins the childcare leave.

Example 3.

Ms Magda is on childcare leave from June 16, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The annual duration of the leave is 26 days. She is entitled to annual leave in the amount of:

  • 26 days for 2020, as the holiday entitlement is acquired in advance at the beginning of a given year,
  • 13 days for the year in which he returns to work, because according to the regulations, the leave is calculated in proportion to the period worked (26 days / 12 months x 6 months).

Childcare leave - summary

Employees using a childcare leave can find both advantages and disadvantages of this solution. However, if the parent wants to extend the period of staying with their child, it is worth considering this possibility. It should also be borne in mind that for the period of educational use, the employee does not receive any livelihood - neither from the employer nor from the Social Insurance Institution.