Becoming a parent is undoubtedly a special and unique experience and as such requires careful consideration and approach for both parents.

Women’s care during pregnancy and the post-partum period are two of the most important segments which have to be taken into account very seriously, not only by the individual but also by their employers. With almost half of the workforce nowadays being women, it is crucial to think about what governments and businesses can do in order to support women and protect their rights.

The article below provides insight into the impact of the Law’s provisions for the rights of pregnant women as well as an overview of the new Law regarding paternity benefits.

Pregnancy period

According to the legislation, women during their pregnancy are entitled to have time off from their work during working hours, for any pre-natal examinations, without any loss of pay.

Protection of Dismissal

Under the new Cyprus law, pregnant women are under special protection from dismissal for a period of five months after childbirth. This means that if an employer announces a dismissal to a pregnant employee during the above-mentioned period, it can be considered as an offence against the law.

Breastfeeding rights

Women who are breastfeeding their children after maternity leave are entitled to a 1- hour break. Such breaks are provided for the first 9 months of a child’s life. The employee can use the one-hour break either to go to work one hour later or to leave from work one hour earlier and this hour is considered as working time. In addition, during this one-hour break, mothers have the right to breastfeed or store milk in their working area. According to the new legislation, an appropriate place for breastfeeding or storing milk must be provided by the employer.

Paternity

The Paternity leave is a measure that was necessary in order to ensure equality, while also providing additional help and support of the mother's needs and the right of the father to be with his child during its first days of life.

Paternity Leave Benefits

The Paternity Leave Act was passed by the Plenary Assembly under the Protection of Paternity Law in 2017 (No. 117(I)/2017) and allows for a total of 16 weeks of leave.

This decision of the Parliament establishes granting a paternity leave for two consecutive weeks (during a period which expires after 16 weeks) also to a father whose wife gave birth or acquired a child through a surrogacy arrangement or in cases where he and his wife have adopted a child up to 12 years of age.

It is prohibited for an employer to terminate the employment of a father or to give any termination notice during the period commencing from the date of the written decision by the father of his intention to exercise his right on paternity leave.

Employer’s penalties

In cases when an employer fails to comply with the new provisions and laws, two levels of fines are introduced. For the first failure the employer is fined up to EUR 7,000 while for any subsequent failure in complying with the new provisions and laws (within two years of the first failure) the fine can range up to EUR 8,000.