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Maternity and paternity leave in Poland: An overview

June 21, 2024

Birth rates may be falling in many nations, including several countries in Europe, but parental paid leave policies continue to evolve to meet the family life needs of working parents. Poland is one of many countries that recognize the importance of providing paid time off for parents to care for their new babies.

An early adopter, Poland first established maternity leave benefits in 1920. New mothers were entitled to eight weeks of fully paid leave at the time. Poland’s leave laws and social policy evolved to include paid paternity leave as well as parental leave — which either parent can take.

Let’s examine the current family policy laws governing maternity and paternity leave in Poland, including those for adoptions, as well as rules intended to protect pregnant workers and new parents.

How Long is Maternity Leave in Poland?

Polish mothers are now entitled to 20 weeks of paid maternity leave (urlop macierzyński) thanks to a law passed in 2023. The leave duration increases to 31 weeks for twins, 33 weeks for triplets, and in two-week increments for the birth of quadruplets, quintuplets, etc. Mothers are paid 100% of their salary by the Social Insurance Institution (Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych, or ZUS) during maternity leave. The employer initially handles the leave payments and then reconciles them with the social security system.

Mothers-to-be can take their maternity allowance with a leave period starting six weeks before their projected due date. If they prefer, pregnant employees can wait until the baby is born to begin their leave. In that case, it begins on the employee’s delivery date.

It’s mandatory for Polish employees who give birth to take at least 14 weeks of maternity leave.  At that point, moms can either take the remaining six weeks available or return to work and transfer the remaining time to the father. In the case of multiple births, that time extends by two weeks per child.

Additional maternity benefits apply once the employee returns to work. For example, new mothers who work more than six hours a day and are breastfeeding a child must be allowed to take two half-hour breaks per day — or two 45-minute breaks if they’re breastfeeding more than one child.

How Long is Paternity Leave in Poland?

Fathers receive 14 days of paternity leave (urlop ojcowski), which needs to be taken before the baby’s first birthday. New dads can take their leave all at once or divide it into two one-week periods. As with maternity leave, the Social Insurance Institution pays paternity leave, and fathers receive 100% of their pay.

What is Poland’s Parental Leave Policy?

New parents also receive a parental leave entitlement of up to 41 weeks for a single child or 43 weeks for multiple births. Should a parent choose to take parental leave (urlop rodzicielski), it begins after maternity leave, and the government pays the entire parental leave at a remuneration of 70% of the employee’s salary.

Either the mother or the father is allowed to take parental leave, and it’s up to the parents how they want to split the time. Each parent is entitled to nine weeks of parental leave, which cannot be transferred to the other parent. Beyond that, parents can divide the remaining weeks between themselves or take leave at the same time.

Parents may take the full 41 weeks consecutively or split it into up to four parts. However, all parental leave must be taken before the end of the calendar year when the child turns 6 years of age.

Once they return to work, new parents are not required to jump back into work full-time. They can request flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, shortened weeks, flexible working hours, etc., until the child’s 8th birthday. Flexible arrangements can especially benefit first-time parents as they strive to create a healthy work-life balance as carers for a new child.

Does Poland Offer Paid Leave for Adoption?

All of the laws legislating maternity, paternity, and parental leave in Poland also apply to parents of adopted children, including the amount of time off allowed. This varies by the number of children adopted, just as it does for birth children.

Protections for Pregnant Workers

The Polish government takes its commitment to new parents seriously, passing labor laws to protect pregnant women against discrimination and inequalities. Employers are prohibited from dismissing an employee during maternity, paternity, or parental leave with limited exceptions, such as gross misconduct by the employee or if the company goes bankrupt.

There are also protections in place for employees with young children to help protect their well-being. Parents of children under age 4 are allowed to refuse to work:

  • Overtime
  • At night
  • In a different location
  • In an intermittent manner

Employees can also refuse to fly for work, such as for business trips.

Childcare Leave

In addition to parental leave, employees have the right to take unpaid childcare leave. Parents are entitled to 36 months of leave for healthy children, which must be taken before the child turns 6. For parents of children with disabilities, the leave doubles to 72 weeks, and parents are permitted to take time off until their child turns 18.

To be eligible for childcare leave, the parent or legal guardian must have been employed for at least six months, with previous periods of employment included in the calculation.

Hire Global Talent in Poland

Businesses expanding their hiring into new countries such as Poland may need help keeping track of various Polish labor laws, including those governing parental leave.

Companies hiring remote workers in Poland can benefit from working with an Employer of Record (EOR) like Remofirst. We take on the management of HR tasks for international hires, including:

Schedule a demo to learn how Remofirst can help you confidently hire new employees in Poland and over 180 other countries while remaining compliant with local employment laws.