Parental Allowance Debate: Finding Common Ground for Fairer Benefits

The Minister of Labor, Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL), is finalizing a proposal to increase the parental allowance by 50,000 Czech korunas, bringing the total to 350,000 korunas. However, the coalition leaders must now decide whether to shorten the duration of the budget to three years and determine who will be eligible for the increase.

The proposed increase is expected to take effect no later than January 1st. There have been suggestions that it should apply only to parents whose children are born after this date rather than those whose children are born just minutes earlier in the previous year. Many parents find this unfair, and over 16,000 individuals have already signed a petition demanding that the increased allowance be extended to all actively receiving parents starting from January 1st.

The Chairman of the Pirate Party parliamentary group, Jakub Michálek, rejects the idea of a shortened duration and proposes raising the parental allowance to 350,000 to 370,000 korunas, depending on the child’s date of birth. He believes this approach is the only realistic option and argues that it would be impossible to influence the timing of a child’s birth. Michálek acknowledges the sense of injustice felt by parents who will be on parental leave by January 1st without the benefit of the increase, but he does not see a solution to this problem. He suggests exploring the possibility of quarterly increases in the future.

The Pirate Party’s Vice-Chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies, Olga Richterová, proposes annual valorization of the allowance, emphasizing the importance of ensuring a place for every child in preschool facilities and offering part-time employment options for parents.

The Mayors and Independents party suggests a gradual increase in the allowance rather than limiting it to parents of newborns. Lukáš Vlček, the party’s Vice-Chairman and Member of Parliament, supports the increase in the budget but points out that the current proposal of 50,000 korunas is the only amount on the table.

The Mayors and Independents also oppose shortening the maximum duration of parental leave from four years to three years due to the lack of kindergarten spaces. Typically, parents stay at home with their children until the start of the new school year in September, when the child is admitted to kindergarten. Vacancies rarely become available during the year, and the capacity for two-year-olds is limited. Some kindergartens are so full that they only accept children starting at four.

While discussions regarding an earlier implementation date than January 1st have been circulating, the Chairman of the KDU-ČSL parliamentary group, Marek Výborný, believes it is unlikely. He states that the negotiations have been based on a January 1st implementation assumption but adds that the discussions are ongoing. Výborný supports aiming for the proposed increase of 50,000 korunas, and the KDU-ČSL also opposes reducing the duration of parental leave.

The opposition party SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy) proposes a more significant increase in the allowance, suggesting an amount of 90,000 to 100,000 korunas to match inflation since 2020. They advocate for the regular valorization of the budget and want the increase to apply to all children under four. They strongly oppose limiting the growth to children born after January 1st. Additionally, the SPD proposes granting grandparents the flexibility to receive the allowance if the parents return to work.