The purpose of the benefit system for children and families is to safeguard the subsistence of the child and those responsible for his or her care, and to support the care of the child. The benefits are applied for at the Social Insurance Institution, Kela.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for developing and preparing the legislation concerning family benefits.
Benefits for infant care
Maternity grant is available to women resident in Finland whose pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days and who have had a medical examination within the first four months of pregnancy. Maternity grants are also available to adoptive parents.
The form of the maternity grant may be either the maternity package of baby clothes and necessary items, or a cash benefit. The maternity grant is tax-free. Here you can see the contents of the maternity package.
Family leaves and benefits during the leaves
The purpose of the family leaves and related benefits is to ensure the health of pregnant women and their unborn children and to make it possible for parents to take care of their small children (or older adoptive children) at home. The objective is to safeguard children’s wellbeing, the building of the relationship between children and their parents and the subsistence of families, as well as to secure the workplace of a parent who returns to work after family leave.
Under the Employment Contracts Act, employees are entitled to take leave from work during special pregnancy, pregnancy and parental allowance periods as referred to in the Sickness Insurance Act. The allowances for parents during family leaves are special pregnancy allowance, pregnancy allowance and parental allowance.
Special pregnancy leave and special pregnancy allowance
Pregnant employees have the right to take special pregnancy leave from work if their work or working conditions involve chemical substances, radiation or contagious diseases or some other similar factor that would endanger their health or that of their unborn child. During the leave, they are paid a special pregnancy allowance.
Pregnancy leave and pregnancy allowance
The purpose of pregnancy leave and pregnancy allowance is to make it possible to stay away from work at the final stage of pregnancy. Pregnancy leave starts 30 working days, or about five weeks, before the estimated due date of the baby. However, the employer and employee may agree to delay the pregnancy leave so that it begins no later than 14 working days before the estimated due date. People who are not in an employment relationship may choose to start the pregnancy allowance period 14 to 30 working days before the estimated due date. Pregnancy allowance is paid for 40 working days or about 1.5 months.
Parental leave and parental allowance
The purpose of parental leave and parental allowance is to enable and secure the care of a small child after the pregnancy allowance period ends. In order to receive parental allowance, you must care for your child at home and not go to work. Parental leave and allowance can be granted for 320 working days (a total of about 12.8 months) per one child. Both parents who have custody of the child (custodians) have an equal right to parental leave and allowance. The days of parental allowance are divided equally between both parents, i.e. they are both entitled to 160 parental allowance days. Parents can transfer a maximum of 63 parental allowance days of their personal quota to the child’s other parent, other custodian, their spouse or the spouse of the other parent. If the child has only one parent who is entitled to parental allowance, this parent has the right to receive all 320 days of parental allowance. In multiple-birth families, the quota of parental allowance days will increase by 84 allowance days for the second and each subsequent child.
Allowances for parents during family leaves can be paid simultaneously to both parents for a maximum of 18 working days. Parental allowance can be used flexibly until the child reaches the age of two. Employees are entitled to take parental leave in a maximum of four periods, with the minimum duration of a period being 12 working days. Parents can receive partial parental allowance (half of the full allowance) if they work part-time and take care of their child part of the day.
- Families (Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Kela)
Childcare leave and child home-care allowance
You can receive child home care allowance when 160 working days have passed since the birth of your child. The child will then be about six months old. The requirement is that you have a child under 3 years of age who does not attend municipal early childhood education and care. You can also get child home care allowance for other siblings under school age who do not attend municipal early childhood education and care.
Under the Employment Contracts Act, parents of small children have the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for their child until the child reaches the age of three. Both parents cannot be on childcare leave at the same time.
Child home care allowance consists of a care allowance and a care supplement, eligibility for which depends on the size and income of the family. Municipalities may also pay a municipal supplement to families receiving child home care allowance.
The person caring for the child and receiving child home care allowance may be the child’s parent or other custodian or married or cohabiting spouse of the parent or custodian. Home care allowance may also be paid to a hired caregiver or other person who looks after the child.
Part-time childcare leave, flexible care allowance and partial care allowance
Under the Employment Contracts Act, a parent can be on part-time childcare leave up until the end of a child’s second year at school. If the child is enrolled in extended compulsory education, that is, attends school for more years than is usually the case, the part-time childcare leave can continue until the child's third year in primary education ends.
A parent caring for a child under the age of three and doing shorter working hours is paid a flexible care allowance. Both parents may receive flexible care allowance at the same time if they make work arrangements that allow them to look after the child at different times (e.g. one parent on Mondays and the other on Fridays, or one parent in the morning and the other in the afternoon).
Partial care allowance is paid to parents of children who are in the first or second year of school. If the child is enrolled in extended compulsory education, partial care allowance is paid until the child’s third year in primary education ends.
The right to childcare leave is longer than the maximum periods for paying flexible or partial care allowance. The parent and their employer agree on the practical arrangements for part-time childcare leave.
Private childcare allowance
As an alternative to early childhood education and care organised by municipalities, families can apply for a private childcare allowance to arrange care for children under school age. The care provider can be a private early education centre, a group family daycare unit or a private childminder.
Private childcare allowance consists of a care allowance and a care supplement, eligibility for which depends on the size and income of the family. Municipalities may also pay a municipal supplement to families receiving private childcare allowance.
The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for the overall planning, guidance and monitoring of early childhood education and care. This applies to both early childhood education and care organised by municipalities and centre-based early education activities and family-based daycare activities organised and provided by private service providers.
- Private day-care allowance (Kela)
- Early childhood education and care (Ministry of Education and Culture)
Other assistance for families
Kela pays child benefit for each child who is permanently resident in Finland. The payment continues until the child is 17 years old. The child benefit is tax-free income. Application instructions, benefit amounts and payment dates are available on Kela’s website.
Child maintenance allowance
An obligation to pay child support may be confirmed if a parent does not provide for the maintenance of the child or if the child does not live with the parent on a permanent basis. The parents may make an agreement on child support to be confirmed by the social welfare authority of the wellbeing services county in question. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the child support will be confirmed by a court decision.
Parents can get more information on child support and help for making the agreement from a child supervisor of their wellbeing services county.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the legislation on child support. The Ministry of Justice has published guidelines for assessing the amount of child support.
Child maintenance allowance is paid to a child from public funds if
- a parent liable for maintenance has failed to pay the agreed amount of child support
- a parent liable for maintenance has insufficient means to provide an adequate level of child support
- paternity of the child has not been confirmed, or
- the agreed level of child support is lower than the child maintenance allowance.
The Social Insurance Institution, Kela, is responsible for the payments of child maintenance allowance.
If you adopt a child from abroad, you can claim an adoption grant from Kela to meet some of the cost of the adoption. You can make the claim as soon as the international adoption agency has identified a child under 18 years of age for placement in your care and the Finnish Adoption Board has authorised the adoption. Adoptions must be processed through an organisation providing international adoption services.
How to appeal against Kela’s decision
Kela is the body responsible for processing applications for family benefits. Kela’s decision always includes instructions on how to appeal against the decision if you are unsatisfied with it. Kela’s decisions may be appealed to the Social Security Appeal Board.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health does not process appeals or complaints.