Czech Government to receive pro-family law package for review in the spring
The Czech Government should receive a legislative package for consideration this spring o measures to better support families. It will include an increase to the parental allowance, more financing for daycare, legislation making it easier for people to work part-time, and measures to improve the enforcement of delinquent parents' child support obligations.
Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jana Maláčová (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) informed the press of the plans last week. She originally wanted to deliver the four pieces of legislation to the cabinet this month, but their drafting has been slightly delayed.
The form of the plan for the state to cover child support when parents fail to pay and then to enforce reimbursement from them has yet to be discussed by the heads of the coalition parties. There are two versions of the legislation to consider.
"I decided to combine these laws into a single package so as to discuss an integrated proposal covering all the areas where support for families is most absent," the minister said. She claims the planned legislation is meant to improve the situations of families with young children, of single parents and their offspring, and of those who want to combine childcare with work.
The law on the state covering child support deficiencies is being worked on by both the Justice and Labor ministries. The coalition parties had previously agreed that the law should focus not just on financial aid to parents whose former partners are failing to pay child support, but also on better enforcement of this obligation.
The minister said there are now two versions of the law on the table. According to the first version, aid from the state would be received by single parents whose incomes are less than 2.7 times the "living minimum" after they have filed a motion to enforce collections from the parent failing to pay.
The parent owed the child support would be able to file the motion after two months of failure to pay. In the second version of the bill, households of all income levels would be able to receive this aid and enforcement of child support payment would be enhanced, the minister briefly described.
Maláčová said she prefers the second model. The coalition Government's legislative council still needs to discuss the form of the law.
The minister said there is no date set for that discussion yet. During the previous administration the Labor Ministry submitted the bill more than once, but did not succeed with it in the previous coalition of ANO, the Christian Democrats and ČSSD.
The program declaration of the current Babiš Government - ANO and the ČSSD supported by the Communists - is counting on state aid to cover back child support. In the lower house the ČSSD MPs have already created their own separate bill on the issue, as have the Communists.
Discussion of those bills in the legislature has been suspended for now. As for the parental allowance, it is to be increased next year from CZK 80 000 [EUR 3 1230] to CZK 300 000 [EUR 11 740] through a social welfare support amendment.
The rules for receiving that allowance, however, could also be influenced by the new EU Directive on Work-Life Balance for Parents and Carers, which should be ready by the end of January. The Czech family law package is therefore being slightly postponed, compared to the original schedule, and the Government will receive it in the spring.
Since the beginning of October 2018 it has been possible to review a bill on the Government's website about children's daycare groups and adjustments to their financing. Currently the public funding available for such groups in the Czech Republic is provided by EU money.
According to the bill, a contribution from the state would be made for a place in each facility for a child age four or younger whose parents work, are looking for work, or are studying. For the time being the proposed amount is CZK 7 500 [EUR 300] monthly per child.
Contributions for establishing new daycares and "micro-creches" could also be disbursed if the bill becomes law. Such facilities would have to fulfill stricter conditions than they have so far.
According to the plans, these changes should apply as of 2020. The minister believes EU money could also be used to finance them in the years to come.
Part of the law on daycare could also be regulations regarding job-sharing. It could become possible for several people working part-time to share the work of a particular position.
The minister clarified that such positions for parents of children age six and younger could be supported by contributions from the amount of funding allocated to the active employment policy. She said that women with young children in the Czech Republic are customarily faced with the choice of working either full time or not at all.
Job-sharing would facilitate these women's gradual return to employment. As for the cost of these new measures, the covering of child support delinquency would annually cost approximately CZK 800 million - CZK 1 billion [EUR 31 million - EUR 39 million], increasing the parental allowance will cost several billion, and financing daycare will cost another CZK 2 billion [EUR 78 million].
Maláčová is pointing out that if daycare and job-sharing were supported, more parents would actually have work, and the state would receive more insurance contributions and tax revenue. Opposition parties on the right are also calling for families to be better supported.
Some of the Labor Ministry's current proposals, however, have been previously criticized by the right. According to them, the cabinet and Labor Ministry are simply giving away money and it will be very difficult for the state to finance all of these contributions should there be another economic crisis.
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