The issue of employees’ leave, in the light of the recent law (Law 4808/2021), began to concern us in our previous article. We have already approached the leave aimed at balancing the professional and personal lives for parents and caregivers, which has been provided for in the framework of Directive 2019/1158 / EU. In the present article, we will be concerned with the leave aimed at protecting the family. In this this article, which will be the last on this issue, we will be concerned with the protection of employees who exercise their right to take leave or make equivalent, flexible arrangements.
Leave and special maternity protection (Articles 34 & 36)
The first of the specific provisions extends the right of working mothers to receive the post-partum part of the maternity leave, lasting nine weeks, to working mothers who adopt a child up to eight (8) years old in their family. The same mothers are also recognized the right to receive all kinds of remuneration and allowances associated with the above leave.
With the pre-existing regulation, the corresponding rights were provided for surrogate mothers, since the year 2017.
The second of the above provisions (article 36) extends the benefits of the special maternity protection of article 142 of law 3655/2008 (: allowance from the Manpower Employment Organization etc) to adoptive and presumed mothers.
Leave for medically assisted reproduction (Article 35)
The specific regulation provides the right to employees who are subjected to medically assisted reproduction methods to take leave of seven (7) working days with remuneration. A relevant certification by the treating physician or the director of the medically assisted reproduction unit is a precondition.
Childcare leave (Article 37)
This provision codifies the existing arrangements for paid parental leave. It concerns, alternatively, both (natural, adoptive, foster, presumed) parents. It is noteworthy, in fact, that it is provided even if the other parent does not work.
The time one can take this leave varies. Its starting point is determined by the expiry of the maternity leave or of the special maternity protection (Article 36) or of the parental leave (Article 28). The law, therefore, enacts into law the Opinion of the Legal Council of the State No. 124/2018. The latter makes it clear that childcare leave is granted in full, regardless of the granting of the special maternity protection benefit and parental leave.
This leave extends for a period of thirty (30) months from the point it can be taken. During this period, the working parent is entitled to reduced working hours [by (1) hour], following a relevant application of theirs. This may, in fact, be implemented by them arriving later than the specified time, leaving earlier or an stopping sometime during the work day. Alternatively, it can be agreed that the employee:
(a) Will work for two (2) hours less every day for a period of eighteen (18) months and one (1) hour for the following six months,
(b) Will be granted full days of leave, within the week, of a corresponding total number of hours, to which the working parent is entitled under this leave.
(c) Will be granted equivalent continuous leave, granted once or in intervals.
For adoptive or foster parents, the right to obtain this leave is granted from the inclusion of a child of up to eight (8) years of age in the family.
In cases of divorce, separation or birth of a child out of wedlock, this leave is granted to the custodial parent, subject to a different agreement of the parents.
At the same time, the law explicitly regulates the cases of part-time employment. In these cases, the childecare leave is granted in proportion to the daily working time.
Leave for the monitoring of school performance (Article 38)
This regulation provides for the right to leave to working parents with full-time or part-time employment contracts, in order for them to monitor the school performance of their children. It extends, in fact, the right of the parents to the said leave until the 18th year of age (completed) of the child, instead of the 16th that was valid until the previous law, as well as, regardless of age, in the case of children with disabilities.
This leave (paid leave for up to four working days per year) grants the working parent the right to be absent from work for certain hours (and / or full day) in order to visit their child’s school.
The right to obtain this leave is common to both parents. Therefore, it is possible that either one of the parents or both of them will use it, by sharing it. Joint statements by parents to their employers are therefore required, including the way that this leave will be obtained.
Marriage leave (Article 39)
This is a paid leave and is not offset by the employee’s annual leave. Its duration is a full working week. That is five (5) days, ie for five days of work and in six (6) days in cases of six days of work per week. It is also granted in the case of concluding a cohabitation agreement.
Prenatal examination leave (Article 40)
This provision provides for the right of pregnant employees to be allowed to leave work, without a pay cut, in order to undergo prenatal examinations if the relevant examinations are to be performed during working hours.
Reduced working hours for parents of children with disabilities (Article 41)
This provision concerns parents (by birth, adoptive, sponsors, presumed), who have children with mental or physical disabilities. These parents are given the right to request a reduction of their working hours by one hour per day, with a corresponding reduction in their salary. The prerequisites are:
(a) the certification of the disability by the insurer concerned; and
(b) employment in a company or holding where at least 50 persons are employed.
Leave due to illness of a child or other dependent member (Article 42)
This provision gives the employee the right to take unpaid leave in case of illness of dependent children or other family members (as defined in §2 of the article). It amounts to up to six (6) working days per year and is administered as a lump sum or in installments. In case of a parent (by birth, adoptive, foster, presumed), who takes care of two children, the duration of the leave is increased to eight (8) days. If they have more than two children, the duration is fourteen (14) days.
Leave due to serious illness of children (Article 43)
This provision repeats and codifies the provisions of article 51 §1 of law 4075/2012. Specifically, the right to obtain special parental leave is granted to working parents (by birth, adoptive, foster, presumed) due to serious illnesses of their children. In fact, the new regulation removes – for the granting of this leave – the age limit of eighteen (18) years of children for specific diseases (severe mental retardation, DOWN syndrome, autism).
The duration of this leave amounts to ten (10) working days per year with remuneration. This leave is an individual right of every working parent. It is granted, with absolute priority, if other paid leave is exhausted – not including the annual not including the annual common leave leave.
Leave due to care of a hospitalized child (Article 44)
The specific provision repeats and codifies the regulations of article 51 §2 of law 4075/2012. This provision gives working parents (adoptive, natural, sponsors, presumed) the right to receive special parental leave, due to the hospitalization of their children – due to illness or accident. The new regulation removes the pre-existing age limit of eighteen (18) years and is granted regardless of the age of the child.
This leave is unpaid and lasts as long as the (child’s) treatment. In any case, however, its duration may not exceed thirty (30) days per year. This leave is an individual right of every working parent and is granted if related paid leaves are exhausted – not including the annual regular leave.
Leave for single-parent families (Article 45)
This provision codifies and gives legislative force to article 7 of the national collective labor agreement / 15.4.2002. It concerns, in particular, working parents (by birth, adoptive, foster, presumed), either widowed or unmarried, who have the sole custody of their child. These parents are granted paid leave of six (6) working days per year, in addition to that to which they are entitled under other provisions. In case the one who has the right to the specific leave has three or more children, its duration is increased to eight (8) working days per year.
As mentioned in the introduction, but also in analyzing individual regulations, an attempt was made with the (above) recent law to compile and codify the provisions that refer to the leave related to the protection of the family. Also, make the (necessary) extension of the relevant leave to employees who need it but also to align with the conditions of the time.
A common denominator of these regulations is the (absolutely necessary) protection of the family but also, of course, of the working parents.
It is a given that the specific regulations are not legally sound. Given that regulations like these will not solve the demographic problem of our country but will undoubtedly assist I helping the daily lives of employees, their relief and, through them, assist the businesses in which they provide their services.
However, in order not to make the specific regulations “void”, the legislator considered it appropriate, and rightly so, to protect employees who exercise their relevant rights. However, we will talk about this protection in our next, and last on this topic, our article.-
P.S. A brief version of this article has been published in MAKEDONIA Newspaper (September 26th, 2021).
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is not (and is not intended to) constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be offered by a competent attorney and after the latter takes into consideration all the relevant to your case data that you will provide them with. See here for more details.