The whole world is watching Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with excitement, as they have just announced that they are expecting a baby. That’s wonderful news! Congratulations for the parents-to-be!
We may have no royal family and no royal babies to expect in Poland, but I daresay most Polish babies have quite luxurious lives, taking into consideration the maternity leave policy, which guarantees that they have their mom or dad by their side during early childhood.
The Polish labor law is very favorable for young parents and quite flexible when it comes to combining parenthood and career. It all starts already before the child is born. Pregnant women are protected, they cannot be fired when expecting, nor during their maternity leave (unless through fault of their own, of course). If a woman has a time-limited contract, her employer must prolong the contract until the day the baby is born.
After giving birth to a baby, the mother gets 20 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave. What is more, the maternity leave is obligatory for the mother. In some cases there is a possibility of going back to work earlier, but no sooner than after 14 weeks, and under the condition that the father will stay with the baby for the remaining 6 weeks. These 20 weeks are considered to be crucial for the family and the baby’s development.
When the maternity leave is over, the parents are entitled to 32 weeks of parental leave, paid 60% of their salary. It can be used by the mother, the father, divided or even shared (when both parents are on parental leave at the same time, they get 16 weeks instead of 32). This means that most babies will stay at home with their parents almost until their first birthday! The parental leave can also be divided into parts and used before the child turns 6 years old, or combined with a part-time job.
Many mothers plan to stay with their baby both during the maternity leave and the parental leave, so they choose to have the 52 weeks paid 80% instead of having one part fully-paid and the other paid 60%.
But that’s not the end. We also have a child care leave! This kind of leave is unpaid, lasts 36 months, can be divided into parts and has to be used before the child’s 6th birthday.
In 2016 Poland launched the so-called “Family 500+” program in order to boost the number of births and improve living conditions in big families. The program entails getting a monthly benefit of tax-free PLN 500 (about 18% of the average Polish salary) for the second child and any consecutive children until they turn 18 years old. Low-income families also receive the benefit for their first child.
Compared with many countries, being a baby in Poland is quite luxurious. Mommy and daddy don’t have to worry about earning a living and can fully focus on their biggest treasure. Looking at it this way, we have thousands of little “royal babies” every year 🙂