10 min czytania 18 August 2023

Parental leave – who is entitled to it?

Employment on the basis of an employment contract gives employees parents the opportunity to take advantage of various privileges. One of them is parental leave. What is parental leave? How long does parental leave last? When can an employee use it? How to apply for parental leave? What does labor law say about this? We answer all questions in the article below.

parental leave


Parental leave – who and when is entitled to it?

Parental leave is available to persons who have at least 6 months of work experience. It is about the entire employment, not the period in one workplace. It is very important that the person is employed under an employment contract. This type of leave is not available to persons employed under a contract of mandate or contract for specific work. It can be used by a mother and a father, as long as they maintain an employment relationship.

The leave can be used immediately after maternity, paternity or parental leave. There is time for this at the latest by the end of the calendar year in which the child turns 6 years old.

How long does parental leave last?

The total length of parental leave is 36 months. In the case of a child with a confirmed degree of disability, parental leave may be granted for an additional 36 months. This period cannot be longer than until the child reaches the age of 18.

In the case of parental leave, it is possible to take 35 months of leave and transfer one month to the other parent. However, you cannot give your part of the parental leave to the other parent.

Another situation is when one of the parents dies or loses parental rights. Then the right to childcare leave of 36 months is vested in the parent who takes care of the child.

The basic guidelines for determining the limit of parental leave remain the same for everyone, regardless of the child’s health condition – whether it is a non-disabled child or a child with disabilities.

Employees’ parents may take parental leave at the same time, but the total duration may not exceed 36 months.

The leave does not have to be used in full, it can be divided into a maximum of 5 parts.

An employee may use the full 36 months of parental leave if:

  • the other parent of the child is dead
  • the other parent has no parental responsibility
  • the other parent has been deprived of parental authority

A parent may resign from parental leave at any time, but must notify the employer and obtain consent at least 30 days before starting work.

Read also: PUE ZUS – what is it and what can be done through it?

parental leave

How to apply for parental leave?

In order for parental leave to be granted, an application for parental leave must be submitted to the employer. This can be done on paper or electronically no later than 21 days before the start of childcare leave. The employer is obliged to comply with the employee’s request. If the application has not been submitted on time, the employer grants the leave not later than on the expiry of 21 days from the date of submission of the application.

You can withdraw your application no later than 7 days before the start of your leave. In such a situation, you must additionally submit a written or electronic statement.

Is parental leave paid?

Parental leave is not paid, which means that we will not receive remuneration for work during it. The exception is families who receive child benefit due to low income. The income per person may not exceed PLN 674, and in the case of a child with disabilities PLN 774. Only one parent can claim Child Care Supplement.

In order to receive the parental leave allowance, a few more conditions must be met:

  • work experience of at least 6 months
  • parental allowance cannot be combined with work
  • you cannot apply for maternity allowance
  • it is not possible to use the parental benefit (kosiniak) at the same time, which is PLN 1,000,
  • the child must be under the constant care of the parent

Parents are entitled to the parental leave allowance up to:

  • 24 months – when caring for one or several children of different ages
  • 36 months – when caring for more than one child born during one birth (twin pregnancy)
  • 72 months – in the case of a child with a degree of disability

The insurance supplement during the period of parental leave is covered from the state budget and paid by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS). The sum of this supplement is PLN 400, transferred regularly every month. If it is due for incomplete calendar months, it is calculated pro rata, taking into account 1/30 of the monthly amount for each day, rounded up to the nearest PLN 0.10.

If both parents use parental leave at the same time, they are entitled to only one supplement, regardless of the number of children under care.

Can I work during parental leave?

During the parental leave, the employee has the opportunity to take up work. Can do it:

  • with your current employer
  • with a new employer
  • opening his own business

If an employee wants to return to work for his employer, he must notify him in good time. The application should be submitted no later than 21 days before the return.

The same applies to employment with a new employer. An employee may take up work, but only for a maximum of 1/2 full-time.

parental leave

What is the purpose of parental leave?

The purpose of parental leave is to enable employees to devote more time to the care and upbringing of their child in key moments of its development. This leave is designed to support parents in balancing work and family life, giving them the opportunity to actively participate in the life of their family in the first years of a child’s life. In this way, parental leave is conducive to creating parental bonds, provides the child with appropriate care and creates conditions for the full use of its development potential.

Parental leave and vacation leave

Everyone who works under an employment contract has the right to annual leave. The situation may be slightly different when using parental leave.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Labor Code, annual leave after parental leave depends on whether the parental leave takes place before or after acquiring the right to leave.

Holiday leave after returning from parental leave is reduced in the year in which the employee returned to work. This only happens if the absence lasts at least 1 month. The reduction of the length of leave takes place at the end of each full calendar month, which causes a reduction by 1/12.


If an employee is on childcare leave on January 1, the holiday leave after the childcare leave will be proportionally reduced.

When the period of parental leave begins after January 1, the employee retains the right to the full amount of annual leave.

Parental leave – summary

  • The issue of parental leave is regulated by the Labor Code, and more specifically Article 186.
  • If you want to get parental leave, you must have worked for at least 6 months on an employment contract.
  • Additional leave is only available to families who have a child with disabilities.
  • The parent employee has 21 days to apply for leave.
  • The maximum duration of leave is 36 months.
  • Parental leave is included in the period of employment.
  • It is possible to interrupt or resign from parental leave, but the employer must be notified in advance.
  • Parents can take parental leave at the same time.
  • Interruption of the parental leave does not deprive the employee of the possibility to use it again, only if the limit of 5 periods of using the leave has not been exceeded and 36 months have not passed.
  • Parental leave is not paid.
  • During parental leave, some persons who are entitled to family allowance may apply for an allowance for child care during parental leave, which is called parental allowance.
  • Working during parental leave is possible. It can take place at the current employer, a new one or while running your own business.
  • If parental leave begins after the full entitlement to holiday leave has been acquired, it is retained on a full-time basis.
  • If a woman decides to take unpaid parental leave immediately after parental leave, she also has the option of taking any outstanding paid leave in between.

The employer grants parental leave, being aware of the key role it plays in the lives of employees who are parents. This period of separation from the daily work routine allows parents to focus on the needs and development of their child. By granting parental leave, employers show their understanding of employees’ efforts to achieve a work-life balance, thus contributing to increasing their commitment and loyalty to the company.