Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) wants to extend the payment of parental benefits in the same amount for families with successive births from the current 2.5 years between births to three years.
Solman said that the state has encouraged the birth of successive children by offering financial security to families in which children are born less than 2.5 years apart.
"At the same time, experience has shown that 2.5 years isn't always enough," the minister continued. "If [a parent] is unable to have their next child within that amount of time, they often tend to prefer to return to work in order to earn new parental benefits. The birth of their next child is delayed, and the risk exist that due to various circumstances, they may not be born at all."
According to the minister, it is important that regulations not influence parents to delay successive births for financial reasons, which is why she wants to extend the payment of parental benefits in the same amount for families with successive births to a length of three years between births.
"This proposal is supported by the fact that a parent can remain on parental leave until the child turns three, and that the parent cannot be expected to return to work during this time," Solman said. "A woman may also have significant medical reasons for waiting a longer time between births."
More generally, the population minister highlighted the fact that more and more third children have recently been born, noting that in 2018, the number of births of third children in a family had increased by nearly a quarter.
"It's difficult to explain such a big and sudden change with anything other than the implementation of the benefit for families with many children in 2017," she said. "The economy going well and wage growth likewise helped."
Solman said that she also wants to improve the conditions for the payment of parents' sickness and care benefits in cooperation with the minister of social affairs.
"As a parent returning from parental leave typically lacks taxable income during the previous calendar year, the size of their sickness and care benefits are calculated based on the minimum wage," she said. "Staying at home with a sick child or the parent themselves getting sick impacts a family's income and sense of financial security to a significant degree. Difficulties returning to the labor market may reduce a family's later interest in new additions. This situation isn't family-friendly and needs to be resolved quickly."
Editor: Aili Vahtla