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Changes to paternity leave

Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20.06.2019 on the work-life balance of parents and caregivers is aimed at increasing the role of men in carrying out care responsibilities for children, as well as encouraging men to share care responsibilities equally.
Marta Michalik
Payroll Project Manager

What is paternity leave and who can take advantage of it?

  • Paternity leave can be taken by the father of a child, as well as adoptive fathers
  • This leave is available to both men employed under an employment contract and those running their own business

When can a father of a child take paternity leave?

  • The right to paternity leave belongs to the father who is raising the child, as well as the father who has already taken maternity leave or parental leave
  • A father can take parental leave when the child's mother is on maternity leave, parental leave, or childcare leave
  • Paternity leave is a right of the father and is also applicable when the child's mother is not employed or uninsured

What changes as of 26.04.2023?

  • The amendment to the Labor Code introduces in Article 1823 § 1 the concept of the purpose to be served by paternity leave. The legislator has indicated that the purpose is to care for the child
  • The possibility of taking paternity leave is limited to the first 12 months of the child's life
  • In connection with the use of paternity leave, the employee is covered by the same protection against termination or termination of the employment contract as in connection with the use of maternity leave. This issue is normalized in the amended Article 177 § 1 of the Labor Code


According to Article 177 § 1 of the Labor Code, during the period of paternity leave or part thereof, until the date of termination of such leave, the employer may not:

  • Conduct preparations for the termination or termination without notice of the employment relationship with a female employee or an employee. It should be emphasized that Member States oblige employers by Article 12 of Directive 2019/1158 to put in place the necessary measures to prohibit the dismissal, preparation for dismissal of employees while they are exercising their parental rights
  • Terminate or dissolve the employment relationship with a female or male employee, unless there are reasons justifying termination without notice due to their fault and the company trade union organization representing the female or male employee has agreed to the termination. Proof of the employee's fault rests with the employer (Articles 177 § 4 and 41 of the Labor Code)

Paternity leave duration

The duration of paternity leave has not changed and remains at 2 weeks (Article 1823 § 1 of the Labor Code).

Deadline for submitting an application

The condition for granting this leave is for the employee, the father, to submit an application in paper or electronic form no later than 7 days before the start of the leave.


Paternity leave may be taken in parts, with the proviso that none of the parts may be less than a week (a week is to be understood as 7 consecutive calendar days (Art. 1831§ 1 of the Labor Code in conjunction with Art. 1823 § 1 of the Labor Code).

In the event that an employee applies for paternity leave earlier than the legal deadline for such application, the protection will only take effect from the legal deadline, i.e.: 7 days before the commencement of paternity leave or part thereof.

The employer is obligated to consider the employee's request. Refusing to grant paternity leave to an employee who meets all the requirements specified by law is a violation of the employee's rights and is subject to a fine (Article 281 § 1 point 5 of the Labor Code).

What should the request for paternity leave submitted to the employer contain?

The request for granting paternity leave or a part of it to the employee-father should include:

  • The employee's first and last name
  • Specification of the period for which paternity leave or a part of it is requested

The request should be accompanied by the documents specified in § 16 of the regulation on applications concerning employee entitlements related to parenthood:

  • An abbreviated copy of the birth certificate of the child(ren) or the foreign birth certificate of the child(ren) issued by the authorized authority registering the birth in the country, or copies of these documents
  • A copy of the court's final decision on the adoption of the child, if the application is for the granting of paternity leave or part thereof for an adopted child
  • A statement by the employee-father raising the child, whether he took paternity leave or part thereof
  • A copy of the final decision on postponement of compulsory education, in case the application concerns a child for whom such a decision has been made

The amount of paternity leave

  • If the employee is employed under a contract of employment - the amount of maternity benefit for the period of paternity leave is 100% of the base. The benefit base is determined, with certain exceptions provided for in Article 36 of the Benefit Law, on the basis of the average salary paid to the employee during the 12 months preceding the month in which paternity leave begins
  • Different rules govern the determination of the maternity benefit base for entrepreneurs. In order for an entrepreneur to take paternity leave, he must pay a voluntary contribution to sickness insurance

For more information on claiming maternity benefits for the period of paternity leave by a self-employed father of a child, click HERE. https://www.zus.pl/-/jak-uzyskac-zasilek-macierzynski-przez-ojca-dziecka-za-okres-urlopu-ojcowskiego

Transitional provisions

Pursuant to Article 36 of the Law of March 9, 2023, amending the Labor Code and certain other laws (Journal of Laws of 2023, item 641), an employee being a father raising a child on the date of entry of the amendment into force is entitled to paternity leave under the rules set forth in the existing regulations, but only until the child completes:

  • 24 months of age, or
  • 14 years of age, provided that 24 months have not elapsed from the date on which the decision declaring the adoption of that child became final.

Paternity leave - what documents should be submitted to ZUS?

In the case where the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) is the payer of the maternity benefit during the period of paternity leave, the father of the child must submit the following documents:

  • A certified copy of the child's birth certificate or a court decision regarding the child's adoption
  • In the case of a child's birth occurring abroad, a translated copy of the child's birth certificate or the foreign birth certificate, or a copy certified by the benefit payer or the Social Insurance Institution as true to the original. The obligation to translate does not apply to birth certificates issued in the territory of European Union member states, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the official language of these countries
  • Confirmation of paternity leave granted (e.g., in the form of a signed request for such leave by the employer)
  • A declaration that the father has not yet received maternity benefit for the period of paternity leave
  • A completed certificate ZUS Z-3 issued by the employer

More: https://www.zus.pl/-/jak-uzyskac-zasilek-macierzynski-przez-ojca-dziecka-za-okres-urlopu-ojcowskiego#elexp-3-zakladka

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