Labour Office changes its stance on maternity benefits for Czech mums working abroad

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has made a U-turn on a thorny issue that concerns thousands of women working abroad who are planning a family. After years when mums who commuted to work abroad were refused maternity benefits in the Czech Republic, the ministry has reviewed its policy on the matter and even make a small retro-active amendment. The decision was taken following criticism from the Ombudsman’s Office.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
Czech women who live in the country but commute to work abroad had a serious problem when starting a family. The Czech state refused to pay them maternity benefits on the argument that since they work in a foreign country they should rightly be paid maternity benefits by the state where they are employed. The respective authorities there usually pointed out that this was not possible because the employee resided in the Czech Republic.

Complaints piled up at the Czech Ombudsman’s Office and Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová recently intervened on their behalf, warning the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry that by refusing to pay mothers living in the Czech Republic maternity benefits it was violating EU social security regulations.

The Labour Ministry subsequently announced a change of policy on the matter. According to the Social Security Administration mums-to-be residing in the Czech Republic, who commute to work abroad but return to their home country at least once a week will now be eligible for maternity benefits from the Czech state. Those who were refused maternity benefits in the past and fulfilled the stated conditions can now ask for them to be refunded within a three-year-retroactive-validity.

The ministry has not said how many mothers this may concern at the present time, but according to Labour Office statistics there are presently over 25,000 Czechs commuting to work abroad.