Croatian Fathers Entitled to Paid Paternity Leave as of 1 August

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Paternity leave is not obligatory, but if a father chooses to take this leave, his employer must grant it. This right is governed by the Act amending the Maternity and Parental Allowances Act.

“Paternity leave can be taken during the first six months of the child’s life. Fathers are advised to exercise this right, and employers have an obligation to make this possible, otherwise they face a fine of between HRK 10,000 and 50,000,” Željka Josić, State Secretary at the Central State Office for Demography and Youth, told Hina in an interview.

“We believe it would be good if in the first months of the child’s life both parents participated in its care to build a better emotional connection,” she said.

All employed or self-employed fathers will be entitled to paid paternity leave if they have at least nine months of continuous service or 12 months of interrupted service over a period of 24 months, regardless of whether they work under open-ended or fixed-term contracts.

Fathers who choose to take paternity leave will receive their full pay at the expense of the state budget and not the employer, Josić noted.

She said that the exact number of fathers who would choose this option was not known at this moment, expressing hope that all fathers entitled to paternity leave would exercise this right, and that the planned HRK 91 million would be spent for this purpose until the end of the year. 

Josić said that her Office had noticed that very few fathers had taken maternity leave and that they had more often opted for parental leave, namely between 1,800 and 2,000 fathers, which is 5% of fathers.

“We believe that the possibility for fathers to spend more time with their child in the first days of the child’s life will encourage fathers to stay with their children on parental leave,” she said.

Josić said that adoptive parents would not be able to exercise the new right, adding that preparations were under way to draw up a new law to make that possible.

The maximum amount of the monthly parental leave allowance, for the other six months if this right is exercised by one parent or for the first eight months if it is used by both parents, is increased from the present HRK 5,600 to 7,500. For those working part-time, the allowance is increased from HRK 2,328 to 3,658.

Josić said that the government had paid out HRK 2.83 billion for maternity and parental allowances in 2021, which is 55% more than in 2016, when HRK 1.82 billion was disbursed.

The number of recipients increased by 8%, from 161,190 in 2016 to 173,444 in 2021. The number of fathers receiving these allowances increased by 152%, from 3,459 in 2016 to 8,719 last year. The share of fathers in the total number of recipients also increased, from 2.1% to 5%, Josić said.


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