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A family leave reform goes into effect on 1 August 2022. The changes introduced in the reform apply to parents expecting a child on or after 4 September 2022. The reform will apply to some 37,000 parents this year.

Three new parental benefits known individually as special pregnancy allowance, pregnancy allowance and parental allowance are introduced in the family leave reform. Applications for all the benefits introduced under the new legislation can be submitted as of 1 August 2022.

It has been possible for birthing parents to submit applications for the new pregnancy allowance and parental allowance since May 2022. By 22 July, Kela had received 6,257 applications and made decisions on 1,169 of them (see map, below).

“Applications for the new benefits have come off to a good start. Although the new information system was built on a tight schedule, the implementation went smoothly. Kela started to provide information about the coming reform well in advance, at the end of 2021,” says benefits manager Johanna Aholainen of Kela.

As of 1 August 2022, the other parent of a child may also submit an application for parental allowance under the new Act. If a child has two parents, parental allowance is divided equally between them, which means that each parent is entitled to allowance for 160 working days. A parent can agree to transfer a maximum of 63 days out of his or her quota to the other parent or to some other person who provides care for the child.

Birthing parents have had the option since May to transfer days from their quotas to the child’s other parent, but the other parent will not be able to transfer parental allowance days until after the child has been born.

“We have already received messages at Kela from fathers who would like to transfer some of their parental allowance days. So far, this has not been possible. It is also important to note that the days must be transferred in the OmaKela e-service, so that the mother can then apply for the days that the father has given up,” Aholainen explains.

As before, parents will be able to be on leave at the same time for up to 18 working days. Parental allowance days can be used at any time before the child reaches the age of two.

The purpose of the reform is to bring more flexibility to the sharing of childcare responsibilities. An online calculator for pregnancy and parental allowance days makes it easier to plan family leaves. Use the calculator to find out for how long you can receive pregnancy and parental allowance. That information can be useful for employees when discussing parental leave arrangements with their employer.

“We hope that, in line with the reform, parents will use their own days, if possible, and take advantage of the option for flexibility when planning family leave,” Aholainen says.

Aholainen hopes that customers will have patience with possible delays that may occur in Kela’s customer service or the processing of applications.

“The reform is also new for the Kela staff who process benefit applications. All applications will be processed as quickly as possible, but occasional delays may still occur during the autumn,” says Aholainen.

The old legislation on family leaves and the new law will exist side by side until the end of 2024. The old legislation applies to parents expecting a child before 4 September 2022.

Source: Kela

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