Family benefits

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

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 the woman and child during pregnancy 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 the child’s wellbeing, the building of the relationship between the child and his or her parents and subsistence of the family, as well as to secure the workplace of a parent who returns to work after family leave.

Family leaves and payments

According to the Employment Contracts Act, employees are entitled to take leave from work during maternity, paternity and parental benefit periods as referred to in the Sickness Insurance Act. Parental benefits include maternity allowance, paternity allowance and parental allowance.

Parents are entitled to maternity, paternity and parental allowance if they have had health insurance in Finland or another EU or ETA country for at least 180 days immediately prior to the estimated birth date.

Maternity leave and maternity benefit period

Maternity leave and maternity benefit period are started 30-50 days before the expected due date.

The duration of a maternity benefit period is usually about four months (105 working days). This means that the child is about 3 months old when the maternity leave ends.

Paternity leave and paternity benefit period

In addition to the child’s father, another person married or living together with the mother is entitled to paternity leave and paternity allowance.

The length of paternity leave and paternity benefit period is altogether about nine weeks (54 working days). The paternity allowance days must be taken before the child’s second birthday. If the whole paternity leave is taken immediately after the parental benefit period, the child will be about 11 months old when the parental leaves end. If both parents want to stay at home simultaneously to care for the baby, the father can choose to receive paternity allowance for 18 days, at the maximum, during the mother’s maternity or parental leave.

A father of a multiple-birth family has the right to an extended paternity leave. In this case, the paternity leave is extended by about three weeks (18 working days) for each additional child.

Parental leave and parental benefit period

The parental benefit period starts after the maternity benefit period and its duration is about six months (158 working days). The parents decide together whether they will split the parental benefit period or whether one of them will use the whole period. Both parents may also take partial parental leave during the same period.

If two or more children are born at the same time, parental leave will be extended by about ten weeks (60 working days). A single mother with sole custody of a child is eligible for a parental leave that is about nine weeks longer (54 working days longer).

An adoptive parent has the right to a parental leave of about ten months (233 working days).

Childcare leave and child home-care allowance

As an alternative of early childhood education organised by the municipality, the family may apply for child home-care allowance at Kela.

According to the Employment Contracts Act, parents of small children have a right to take unpaid leave from work to care for a child until the child’s third birthday. Both parents cannot be on child care leave at the same time.

The family is entitled to a child home-care allowance during child care leave. 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 guardian or married or cohabiting spouse of the parent or guardian. Home-care allowance may also be paid if a hired caregiver or other person who is looking after the child.

Part-time childcare leave, flexible care allowance and partial care allowance

According to 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 his or her employer agree on the practical arrangements for part-time child care leave.

Private day-care allowance

As an alternative to municipal day care, families can apply for a private day-care allowance to arrange care for children under school age. The care provider can be a private day-care centre, a group family day care unit or a private childminder.

Private day-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 private day-care allowance.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for the overall planning, guidance and monitoring of early childhood education and care. This applies both to early education services organised by municipalities and day-care services organised and provided by private service providers.

Other assistance for families

Child benefit

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 local social welfare authority. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the child support will be confirmed by a court decision.

Parents can get information on child support and help for making the agreement from a child welfare supervisor of their home municipality.

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.

Adoption grant

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.

Further information

Annika Juurikko, Senior Specialist, Legal Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Insurance and Social Security / SVO, Benefits Unit / ETU 0295163242