Maternity leave is a continuous period away from work given by law to all pregnant women and newly mothers in order to protect their biological state, the embryos on one part and the special relationship between the woman and the child during the period after the pregnancy and birth on the other part.

In order to obtain maternity leave the newborn parents must notify their employer in writing through a letter, email, fax, or any similar notification. They also need to provide a medical certificate stating the pregnancy or a certificate from the Department of Social Welfare Services in case of women who intend to adopt a child.

Any woman who wants to adopt a child under 12 years old or whose husband adopts such a child is also entitled to maternity leave. In this case the workers must give written notice to their employer expressing their intention to undertake the care of a child for adoption purposes, at least 6 weeks before.

To be noted that the maternity benefit and maternity grant are paid by the Social Insurance Fund during the maternity leave period, only if the insurance conditions are satisfied.

How long is the Maternity Leave?

The maternity leave is given for a period of 18 weeks starting at anytime between the sixth to the second week prior to the expected week of birth. In case of adoptive mothers of children under 12 years old the maternity leave is given for a period of 16 weeks, starting from the first week of adoption. If due to premature birth the infant is hospitalised in an incubator, the maternity leave may be extended by six more weeks (maximum period).  There are 11 weeks of compulsory maternity leave, allocated as follows: two before the week of the expected birth and the rest after birth. During the compulsory period of maternity leave the employer cannot force the worker concerned to return to her job. If the mother chooses not to return to her job during the non compulsory weeks (up to the 18th week of maternity leave) even if she is asked by her employer to do so, the employer cannot use this decision against her.

In cases of premature birth or in case the infant is hospitalized right after birth for health reasons, the mother is entitled to additional maternity leave as follows:

  • for the first 21 days that the infant is hospitalized in an incubator, the mother is entitled to an extension of one additional week of maternity leave.
  • for every additional 50% of the next 21 days that the infant continues to be hospitalized, the mother is entitled to an additional week up to a maximum of 6 weeks in total.

To obtain an extension on maternity leave, the worker must provide her employer with a written certificate from the hospital and from a doctor of the relevant specialty.

Both working parents (male and female) are entitled to an additional of 18 weeks unpaid paternal leave after the maternity leave passes.

All pregnant workers are entitled to maternity leave, regardless of the time for which they have been working for a specific employer.

For more information on maternity or paternity leave contact the Department of Social Insurance of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance or the Department of Labour Relations.