Union proposes 'fairer' changes to care leave pay compensation system

Children. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

"Fairer changes" to the compensation system used to calculate parents' income when they must look after a sick child have been proposed by the Estonian Union of Child Welfare.

The union finds that fairer sickness and care allowance regulation for people coming out of the parent's pay period is needed. Helika Saare, the union's child rights program coordinator, said the matter has been outstanding for 16 years.

"If normally, an insured person is paid 80 percent of their daily income based on income tax from the previous calendar year, no social tax is collected on the parent's pay benefit, meaning that the calculation there is based on the so-called minimum salary rate. This means that parents coming out of the parent's pay period get paid many times less in sick leave compensation compared to allowance that would be based on their salary," Saar explained.

The minimum benefit was €19.47 last year, while average parent's pay sums would put it at €37 for women and €47 for men. The difference concerns around 11,000 parents, with extra pressure on single-parent families that find it especially difficult to work while a child is ill.

Discussion about the amendments recently took place in the Riigikogu. Saare said the draft's future depends on political will.

"If there is the will, the resources will be found, because, of course, the Health Insurance Fund says there is no money," said Saar.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said the appeal is very well-founded and also highlighted the cost.

"This measure, to the best of my knowledge, will cost around €4.5 million and will involve a fundamental change to the Health Insurance Act," said Riisalo.

She said, if the amendments are agreed upon and processed quickly, they could be implemented by January 1, 2024.

"I believe that this amendment, which supports all parents who are in a similar situation, irrespective of the type of family, the number of children in the family, the social status of the parents, is a good measure that will find support from all political parties," the minister said.


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Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Helen Wright

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