Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers (Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Directives 2006/54, 2010/18 and 2019/1158)

AuthorAnu Laas
5 Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers
(Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Direct ives 2006/54, 2010/18 and
5.1 General (legal) context
5.1.1 Surveys and reports on the practical difficulties linked to work -life balance
Biin (2017) has studied problems with the generous but rigid parental leave system in
Estonia and legal developments to tackle these issues.120
The nuclear family type is not the only type of family anymore. Today, families are diverse
and complex. In Est onia, the proportion of children living in single parent households is
16 %, which is slightly below the European Union average. 31 % of children are raised in
households with parents cohabiting, compared to 14 % across the European Un ion.121
Kutsar and Raid (2019: 88) describe a common family type of present times being blended
families, which consists of both bi ologically, semi-biologically and non-biologically related
people whom the child could subjectively consider as members of his or her family.
The Family Law Act stipulates that children and grandchildren should take care of their
parents and grandp arents. In relation to care of persons other than children, Tarum and
Kutsar (2017) found that 80% of fragil e older people receive in formal care. They have
studied whether this is because the ca rers themselves feel solidarity and choose informal
caring or because they lack alternatives.122 The research findings determi ne that informal
carers’ choice between work and care i s shaped by triplefold pressure (Tarum and Kutsar
the legally supported familialistic policy-making that impedes the d evelopment of
formal eldercare services and fiscal support;
the older generation’s own strong filial norms, i.e., internalised compulsory family
the informal carers’ (often female family members’) personal position where they
have internalised the compulsory family solidarity norm that is fu rther enhanced by
strong subjective filial norms.
Consequently, informal carers are l eft with no choice but to find their own solutions for
family care and this can affect their employment if the care needs of the older family
members increases. In a situation where individuals are obliged to provide maintenance
for their older family members, they have basically four options:
to take care of their older family members by themselves;
to place them in residential care, paid for by the family and/or the older person
to place them in a residential care facility that is funded to some extent by the local
119 See Masselot, A. (2018), Family leave: enforcement of the protection against dismissal and unfavourable
treatment European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at
dismissal-and-unfavourable-treatment-pdf-962-kb and McColgan, A. (2015) Measures to address the
challenges of work-life balance in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, European
network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at
120 Biin, H. (2017), ‘Estonia: Reform of the parental leave and benefit system to better reconcile work and
family life’, ESPN Flash Report 2017/62,
121 Kutsar, D., Raid, K. (2019), When traditional measurement practices fail: who are the child's family? In:
Kutsar, D. and Raid, K. (Ed.). Children's Subjective Well-Being in Local and International Perspectives
(85−93). Tallinn: Statistikaamet.
122 Tarum, H., Kutsar, D. (2017), Compulsory intergenerational family solidarity shaping choices between work
and care: perceptions of informal female carers and local policymakers in Estonia. International Journal of
Social Welfare, 27 (1), 40−51.
or (if available) to provide the older person with home care services, paid for by
the older person or by the family.
The local government determines th e conditions under which an older person is eligible
for residential care that is fund ed to some extent by the local g overnment, and there are
no national guidelines that local authorities are obliged to follow. Local municipalities give
priority to those older people who do not have any close family members who could provide
informal care. Local governments have no willingness to cover costs for care.
Women make up the majority of informal carers for older family members (parents,
parents in law). Ta rum and Kutsar have studied elderly care in the second largest city of
Estonia, Tartu, which has ar ound 100 000 inhabitants. Eldercare provision in Tartu is a
threefold system, which is typical for the Estonian eldercare system. According to the city
government’s data register, the largest proportion of care work at the end of 2014 was
carried out by informal carers (78 % of older people with care needs received care fr om
informal carers), followed by residential care (13 %) and home care services (9 %).123 In
rural municipalities, the number of inform al care is even hig her due to scarcity of home
care services.
Pall, an expert and analyst of the S ocial Insurance Board, asks whether it is fair to oblige
children to pay all long-term care costs for their parents.124 She points out that in 2018,
private individuals paid EUR 53 million in Estonia for home care services. This includes the
elderly's own pension and the fees paid by their children. At the same t ime, the state,
together with local governments, spent EUR 14 million on home care services. Pall
concludes that obtaining this essential social service in Estonia, as well as bearing the cost,
is largely a private mat ter. Pall stresses the negative t rend in this matter from y ear to
year. In 2008, the expenditure of state governments on home care home services was
EUR 11 million, people paid a total of EUR 17.5 million. Over the last ten years, the
expenditure of the state and local governments in financing home care service has
increased by EUR 3 million, while the expenditure of people has increased by
EUR 36 million.
The State Budget Strategy for 2020 -2023 contains a promise to reduce th e daily burden
of car e-burdened fa mily membe rs and in order to provide better services for people in
need of care, the government has approved the establishment of a sustainable long -term
care system and a maintenance burden reduction plan, which aims to increase the volume
of care services and reduce people's co-payment for general care servic es.125
5.1.2 Other issues
Negotiating working arrangements between employer and employee is possible, but there
are often problems reaching mutual agreement. Article 47(1) of ECA specifies the
organisation of working time.
In the authors view, more attention should be paid to specific socioeconomic and legal
problems regarding elderly care. Chapt er 8 of the Family Law Act stipulates an obligation
to provide maintenance. According to Article 96(1) of the Family Act Law, family members
are obliged to provide maintenance for family members who are unable to cope by
123 Tarum, H., Kutsar, D. (2015), The impact of the policy framework on the integration of informal carers into
the labour market in Tartu, Estonia. In: D. Kutsar & M. Kuronen (Eds.), Local welfare policy making in
European cities (pp. 195208). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
124 Pall, K. (2019), ’Kas on õige panna vanemate hoolduskulud laste kanda?’ (’Is it OK to let children pay all
long term care costs for their parents?’), Eesti Ekspress, 02.10.2020,
125 Ministry of Finance (2019), State Budget Strategy 2020 2023 and Stability Programme, 61.

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