The House of Representatives on 2 December 2022 approved the passing of the "Leave (Paternity, Parental, Caring, Force Majeure) and flexible working arrangements for work-life balance Law of 2022" (the "Law") as published in the Official Gazette of Cyprus on 16 December 2022.
The purpose of the new Law is to harmonise national legislation with the provisions of the Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU.
The new harmonisation law was adopted with the aim of promoting work-life balance for working parents and carers. The Law, amongst other things, provides for parental leave allowance, the right to carers’ leave, the right to time off from work on the grounds of force majeure and the right of working parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements.
The Law abolishes and replaces the Paternity Protection Laws of 2017-2022 as well as the Parental Leave and Force Majeure Leave Law of 2012.
The main provisions of the Law provide for the granting of:
For the purposes of implementing the provisions of the Law, it was also deemed necessary to amend other affected legislation. Such legislation falls under the responsibilities of the Department of Labour Relations, the Social Insurances as well as that of the Department of Labour and Inspection Service of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurances.
The Law provides for the already established right of fathers to 2 (two) consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave. The relevant allowance is paid subject to the terms and conditions as provided under the Social Insurances Law as amended from time to time.
Amongst the major changes introduced with the new Law are that the Law no longer requires fathers to be married or have a civil partnership agreement with the mother in order to be entitled to apply for paternity leave. As a reminder, since its introduction, paternity leave was given to married couples or those who signed a civil partnership agreement. Paternity leave can now be granted irrespective of family or marital status. Another important change introduced under the Law is that when the mother dies before or during childbirth or during the maternity leave, the paternity leave increases by as many weeks as the remaining weeks of maternity leave to which the mother would have been entitled to if she had not passed away. Additionally, the Law regulates that the right to paternity leave and accordingly, the employer’s obligation to grant such right, exists regardless of the length of previous periods of employment or the length of work experience.
Parental leave constitutes an important right for employees who are parents, since it allows both working mothers and fathers to be absent from their work for the purpose of taking care and participating in the raising of their children. It was initially introduced in the legislation of Cyprus in 2002, with a view to harmonisation with the European Union acquis.
The major change on parental leave introduced with the new legislation is that 8 out of the 18 weeks of parental leave currently provided to every working parent for every child of up to 8 (eight) years, will now be paid by the Social Insurance Fund. Pursuant to the Law, every working parent with children up to the age of 8 (eight), has an individual right to parental leave with a total duration of 18 (eighteen) weeks for each child. This applies to every parent, regardless of marital status. As a condition, eligible for parental leave are all working parents with children up to the age of 8 (eight) years, who have completed 6 (six) months of continuous employment with the same employer.
Amongst others, the Law also regulates for the following:
Unpaid caregivers’ leave is also introduced by the Law for workers providing ‘personal care or support to a relative, or to a person who lives in the same household as the worker, and who is in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason’. For the purposes of the Law, "relative" means a child, mother, father, spouse, and includes a civil partner with whom the employee has entered into a civil partnership.
More specifically, pursuant to the Law, any employee who provides personal care or support either (a) to a relative or (b) to a person residing in the same household as the employee, and who is in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason, is entitled to carers’ leave for 5 (five) working days per year, without pay. According to the Law, carers’ leave can be taken all at once or in parts. It is provided that for taking up the leave, the employee provides the employer with an appropriate medical certificate.
Force Majeure Absence
Finally, under the Law every employee is entitled to be absent from work for 7 (seven) working days per year, without pay, for reasons of force majeure related to urgent family reasons involving illness or accident. Similarly with the carers’ leave, days of absence for reasons of force majeure can be taken all at once or in parts.
Flexible working arrangements for working parents or carers
Every working parent with a child up to the age of 8 (eight), and every carer, has also the right to request flexible working arrangements for care reasons. In order to be eligible, the employee must have completed 6 (six) months of continuous employment with the same employer. The duration of such arrangements may be limited in a reasonable way. Importantly, working parents have the right to return to the same work pattern at the end of the agreed-upon period.
Pursuant to the Law, the employer shall examine and process a request for flexible working arrangements and inform in writing the employee on the decision within 1 (one) month as of submitting such request. Having considered the needs both of the employer and the employee, the Law entitles the employer either to approve, postpone or reject such a request. Provided that, before postponing or rejecting the working parents’ requests, employers must take into account the representations of the working parents and inform them in writing of the decision, justifying the reasons of postponing or rejecting such request.
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