Parental benefits


Leaves and benefits related to maternity and parenthood constitute an important element of social policy. Their main goal is to support families and provide them with a work-life balance. Maternity, parental, paternity and childcare leave are available to biological parents, but also to persons who have adopted a child for upbringing.   

How long do they last, and what are the rules for sharing leaves? Benefit in what amount is received? What formalities must be fulfilled to receive it?   

Maternity leave and parental leave 

Maternity and parental leave depend on the number of children born or adopted.  

In the case of maternity leave, it is as follows:    

  • 20 weeks – for one child,  
  • 31 weeks – for two children,  
  • 33 weeks – for three children,  
  • 35 weeks – for four children,  
  • 37 weeks – for five children.   

The child’s mother cannot waive her right to maternity leave. She only has the possibility of transferring part of the leave to the child’s father. However, this option is available only if 14 weeks of maternity leave are taken.   

In the case of parental leave, it is as follows:  

  • 41 weeks – for one child,  
  • 43 weeks – for two or more children.  

It is important as well that 9 weeks of the indicated length of parental leave is intended only for the child’s other parent.   

For example, a mother who has given birth to one child intends to take full-time maternity leave and parental leave. She will have 20 weeks of maternity leave and 32 weeks of parental leave to take. The remaining 9 weeks are intended for the father of the child. It won’t be possible for the mother of the child to take it even if the father resigns from this right.   

In certain cases, it is possible to extend the duration of parental leave. This applies to the parents of children who have the so-called “Za życiem” [“For Life”] certificate. It is issued for a child who is severely and irreversibly disabled or has an incurable, life-threatening disease that occurred during the prenatal period of the child’s development or during childbirth. The child’s parents can then take parental leave as follows:  

  • 65 weeks – for one child,  
  • 67 weeks – for two or more children.   

Also, the 9-week part attributable only to the other parent is included in the extended limits.  

Parental leave can be taken until the end of the calendar year in which the child turns 6. This leave may be granted in 5 parts, whereas these parts do not have to be equal, there is no minimum duration of a part and there is no obligation to apply for a part calculated in weeks.   

Application for maternity and parental leave 

The law does not indicate the necessity to submit an application for maternity leave. A woman is entitled to it by law and it begins on the day of the child’s birth. In practice, however, women fill in an application for maternity leave or provide a certificate in which the employer will be able to find the date of delivery.   

The exception is a situation when, at the employee’s request, leave is granted before the delivery due date. Before the expected date of delivery, an employee may take no more than 6 weeks of maternity leave.  

However, to use parental leave, one must submit an application for it at least 21 days before it begins.   

Application for maternity allowance 

The amount of allowance paid depends on the date of submission of the application. If the application is submitted within 21 days from the date of delivery, the allowance will be 81.5% of the basis. However, submitting an application after the 21st day from the date of delivery of the child means that one will be entitled to 100% of the calculation basis for the period of maternity leave and 70% for the period of parental leave.   

There is also a possibility for a woman to submit an application within 21 days from the date of delivery, but she will not use a single day of maternity allowance for the period of parental leave in the first year of the child’s life. She will then be entitled to compensation for the maternity allowance for the entire period of maternity leave in the amount of 100% of the calculation basis.   

In the case of 9 weeks, which are always intended for the second parent, one will be entitled to 70% of the calculation basis.  

Paternity leave 

Paternity leave, as the name suggests, is intended only for an employee – the child’s father. The father of the child is entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave until the child is 12 months old or until the expiry of 12 months from the date of the decision declaring the adoption of the child becomes final and no longer than until the child is 14 years old.   

If he wants to take paternity leave, he must submit an application no later than 7 days before the intended start the leave.   

Paternity leave can be taken in a maximum of 2 parts and each of them cannot be shorter than one week.    

During the paternity leave, the child’s father is entitled to an allowance amounting to 100% of the calculation basis.   

Childcare leave 

To take childcare leave, one must have a total of 6 months of work experience under an employment contract. The employee’s previous employment is also included in this period. Both parents/guardians are entitled take childcare leave. It is important, however, that they are employees. The duration of childcare leave is 36 months. However, one parent/guardian of the child can take a maximum of 35 months. The remaining month is attributable to the other parent. The leave can be taken until the end of the calendar year in which the child turns 6. In addition to standard childcare leave, parents/guardians of a disabled child are entitled to additional 36 weeks until the child turns 18. 

If a person wants to take this type of leave, they must submit an application to their employer no later than 21 days before the planned leave. If the time limits is not met, the employer is obliged to give it to the employee no later than the 21st day after submission of the application.   

The leave may be divided into no more than 5 parts.  

An employee who takes childcare leave will not receive remuneration or allowance. Pension and disability insurance contributions are financed by the state budget for the entire duration of this leave. The basis for calculating contributions is calculated taking into account the average monthly remuneration from the 12 months preceding the month of start of childcare leave.  However, the basis calculated in this way cannot be higher than 60% of the forecast average monthly remuneration in a given year, nor lower than 75% of the minimum remuneration. In 2024 the bases are as follows:   

Period   01.01.2024 – 30.06.2024   01.07.2024 – 31.12.2024  
Maximum basis   PLN 4,694.40
(PLN 7,824 × 60%)  
PLN 4,694.40
(PLN 7,824 × 60%)  
Minimum basis   PLN 3,181.50
(PLN 4,242 × 75%)  
PLN 3.225
(PLN 4,300 × 75%)  

While on childcare leave, the employee may perform work for the current or another employer. It is important that this work does not prevent the employee from achieving the primary purpose of the leave – taking care of a child. In such a case, the state budget will not finance the contributions. The employee will then be covered by all mandatory insurances at the workplace where they took up employment during childcare leave.    


Author: Patrycja Szewczuk HR and Payroll Specialist in the Warsaw office of MDDP Outsourcing