Friday, 24 November 2017

Lower house approves paid nursing leave

ČTK |
17 July 2017

Prague, July 14 (CTK) - The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed a government amendment to the health insurance law that would enable people to take a three-month paid leave for the nursing of seriously ill relatives today.

The lower house also passed today an amendment to the employment law to raise the state monthly contribution to employers for their disabled employees up to 10,500 crowns from the current 9,500 crowns. The employers with more than a half of disabled employees are entitled to this support.

The Senate, the upper house, must yet approve the amendments and President Milos Zeman sign them into laws.

Deputies softened the conditions of taking a nursing leave in the respective bill.

The Chamber of Deputies passed it by the votes of 78 out of the 132 MPs present, while 21 deputies were against it.

It was supported by the government Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) as well as the opposition Communists (KSCM) and Dawn. Only three MPs for the government ANO movement supported the bill, while most of them abstained from the vote.

The lower house changed the conditions of employers' consent to a nursing leave for their employees. In the new wording, they can only refuse to provide it for serious operational reasons.

The amendment enables employees to take up to 90 days of a paid nursing leave, while family members could take turns in the care. They would get a nursing pay amounting to 60 percent of their base income from sickness insurance.

People who have sickness insurance could take this time off to look after a person who spent at least one week in hospital.

The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry calculated that the introduction of a three-month nursing leave would cost some 1.84 billion crowns from the state budget a year and another 242 million from the public health insurance system.

On the contrary, this measure would save some 900 million crowns from public budgets for financing beds in social care homes.

The introduction of a paid nursing leave will burden employers and it might paralyse production in some sectors, the Chamber of Commerce said in its press release in reaction to the new legislation.

It also expressed fears of its abuse. In combination with other welfare payments this might be an advantageous alternative to work for some people, the Chamber of Commerce said, pointing out that employees can take this leave repeatedly.

It says the situation of employees who have a seriously ill family member should be solved by a social policy reform and not by transferring the state responsibility to employers.

($1=22.878 crowns)

hol/dr/kva,pv

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