A lot of my friends ask me questions about the maternity leave in Hungary, so I have decided to write a few things about it. I must say that maternity leave Hungarian policy is one of my favorite things about living here. Because of it, is worthy to endure all collateral damages of the cultural shock, homesickness and so on.
Hungary birth and fertility rate are really, really, really low:
Birth rate: 9.49 births/1,000 population (2012 figures)
Fertility rate: 1.41 children born/woman (2012 figures)
Therefore for the past 20 years (if not more) governments have tried to encourage youngsters to have children giving them extra social benefits when having kids. For example, you do not pay taxes when having 4 children or more and you get extra help from the government when getting a loan for a house if you have at least two children.
Nevertheless and despite the good deals the system offers to new moms and growing families it looks like becoming a parents is not that attractive as it used to be for the old generations. The statistics tell us that population is only growing in age not in numbers, which is probably one of the biggest problems in today´s Europe reality. However the reasons why people are not having kids in Hungary or in any other European country are well known and might be the topic for another post.
Maternity leave in paper:
Women have 24 weeks (6 months) maternity leave, but are allowed to take up to three years off and receive maternity benefits. For the first six months, a woman receives 70% of her previous salary. This kind of support is called Pregnancy and Confinement Benefit (Terhességi-gyermekágyi segély – TGYÁS).
For the next eighteen months, until the child’s second birthday, a Child Care Fee (Gyermekgondozási díj – GYED) is available. The amount paid is 70% of the previous earnings of the parent taking care of the child; however it is capped, and cannot be higher than 70% of twice the minimum daily wage. So the maximum anyone can currently get is 100 thousand HUF which is around 340 EUR per month.
A benefit called Child Home Care Allowance (Gyermekgondozási segély – GYES) is available for parents or grandparents taking care of a child up to the age of three, although this is a much smaller amount. For those who were unemployed when they gave birth, only GYES is payable.
Maternity leave in my opinion:
I think is wonderful to have the chance to stay at home with your baby if you decide to do so. People around here often complain that the money is not good enough but I always try to point out that in other countries you do not even get any money or worse: you are not entitled to have a proper maternity at all. Moreover, in other countries the law do not protect your job. Here in Hungary from 2012 the labor law protects the mother-to-be-job, so when she decides to go back to work she will have her position back.
The so-called disadvantages:
- You have to be working at least for two years in order to be able to enjoy this benefits but it is because you need to pay enough taxes and social security fees (Hungarian Government takes away the 40% of your salary each month) to support your maternity leave.
- It is also true that being a single mother is nearly impossible if you pretend to leave on that money.
- The lack of public Nurseries and Day Care centers makes very difficult to go back to work before the child is two years old.
- You cannot (legally) work or have any extra income during the time you are on maternity leave.
- You look after your child yourself until she or he will be ready to join Nursery or kindergarten, depends on how long you would like to be on maternity leave.
- You can breastfeed for two years if you decide to do so without complications.
- You can have another baby during your maternity leave and stay at home for another 2 years, but you will only receive the same amount of money you have been getting after the first baby turned 6 months old.
That´s all for today. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope to read you soon.