In the third quarter of 2022, many countries in Europe enacted family leave changes following the European Union’s 2019 directive on work-life balance for parents and caregivers. Family leave changes are an effort to improve work-life balance and gender equality within the workforce. EU member states were given a three-year implementation deadline, which ended in August 2022.
Additional Public Holiday to Honor Queen Elizabeth II
Several countries provided an additional employer-paid public holiday to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of England. The UK and Canadian governments provided a holiday on Monday, September 19, 2022. Australia provided a holiday on September 22 and New Zealand on September 26. This is a one-time holiday and will not repeat going forward.
Argentina Increases Pensionable Salary Cap
The Argentina government has increased the minimum and maximum pensionable salaries for the third time in 2022. The updated minimum pensionable salary is equal to ARS 14,601.14 per month, while the maximum pensionable salary for employee contribution purposes is increased to ARS 474,530.27 per month. There is no maximum pensionable salary for employer contribution purposes. Additionally, the minimum monthly old age pension is now equal to ARS 43,352.59 and the maximum is ARS 19,831.83 per month. All changes took effect on September 1, 2022. The figures are expected to be reviewed and updated again in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Canada Increases Old-Age Pension by 10%
To boost economic stability for older retirees, the Canadian government has increased the Old Age Security (OAS) pension for retirees aged 75 and older by 10%, making the full monthly pension amount CAD 733.51. The monthly pension for individuals aged 65 to 74 is set at CAD 666.85. This reflects a change from the previous OAS pension amount, which did not vary by age. The changes took July 1, 2022.
Nicaragua Makes Mother’s Day an Official Holiday
Mother’s Day is now a mandatory paid national holiday in Nicaragua. Employees will get May 30 as a day off to celebrate Mother’s Day. Employees are entitled to a pay rate of 200% of their regular daily salary if they work on national holidays. The legislation went into effect on May 20, 2022.
Cambodia: Social Security Contribution to Take Effect
The Cambodian government has issued a plan for social security contributions. Employers and employees will each contribute 2% of the total monthly salary (combined 4%) towards the National Social Security Fund. The minimum monthly earnings used to calculate contributions will be KHR 400,000 and the maximum will be KHR 1,200,000. The combined contribution rate will gradually increase to 8% over the next five years and grow by 2.75% every decade thereafter. The changes went into effect on October 1, 2022.
Japan Increases Childcare Leave and Family Care Benefits
Japan has increased its childcare leave benefit and family care benefit amounts, effective August 1, 2022., The maximum childcare leave benefit is now equal to JPY 305,319 per month during the first six months of childcare leave, and JPY 227,850 per month from the seventh month of parental leave onwards. The maximum family care benefit is increased to JPY 335,871 per month.
Nepal: Old-Age Allowance Eligibility Age Lowered
To improve the economic stability of its older population, the Nepal government has lowered the old-age allowance eligibility to age 68, from the previous 70. The change does not affect the special eligibility rules for certain demographics. The changes took effect on July 16, 2022.
Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)
Croatia Implements Paternity Leave
Effective August 1, 2022, fathers will get 10 paid working days of paternity leave per child. For fathers or equivalent second parents of twins or multiple births, the leave will increase to 15 working days. The leave must be taken within six months of childbirth or placement of adoption and cannot be transferred to the other parent. The Croatian government pays the full salary to second parents during parental leave.
Finland Expands Family Leave Provisions
Finland’s government has extended its parental leave effective August 1, 2022. For children born on or after September 4, 2022, each parent will get 160 days of parental leave, which can be used in four different periods until the child reaches age 2. Additionally, up to 63 days from the 160-day quota can be transferred to the other parent, spouse, or guardian. Parents with multiple births will get additional 84 days, and single parents get a combined 320 days.
Birth mothers are also entitled to pregnancy leave of 30 days before the baby’s due date. Employees can choose to start the pregnancy leave later, but no later than 14 working days before the estimated due date. Pregnancy allowance days must be taken consecutively and cannot be postponed until later. Finnish social security Kela pays a pregnancy allowance for 40 working days during the pregnancy leave.
Additionally, employees can take five days of unpaid caregiver leave per year.
Gibraltar Expands Occupational Pension Eligibility
Effective July 1, 2022, the British overseas territory Gibraltar has expanded its auto-enrollment occupational pension program from covering private-sector employers with 251 employees to also covering employers with 101 to 250 employees. The program will gradually expand to cover medium-sized employers (51 to 100 employees) in July 2025, small employers (15 to 50 employees) in July 2026, and micro employers (14 employees or less) in July 2027, which would then cover all private-sector employers. Employers and employees are required to each contribute at least 2% of the weekly or monthly salary towards the occupational pension plans. Employers are allowed to pay the 2% minimum employee contribution on behalf of their employees. The auto-enrollment occupational pension program was rolled out in August 2021 and is administered by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission.
Ireland Increases Parent’s Leave
Effective July 1, 2022, employees in Ireland can take Parent’s Leave for seven weeks, up from the previous five weeks. Parents of children under two years of age are entitled to take the leave consecutively or in separate weekly increments. Each eligible parent will receive EUR 250 per week from the Department of Social Protection. Parent’s Leave is separate from Parental Leave, which is an unpaid 26 weeks of leave that can be taken for each eligible child under 12 years.
Malta Extends Family Leaves
Malta’s government implemented several changes to family leave entitlements effective August 2, 2022. Fathers or equivalent second parents can take 10 days of paternity leave immediately after childbirth or placement of adoption. Carers’ Leave of five unpaid working days can be taken by employees caring for a parent or another family member residing in the same household. Parents are also entitled to two months of paid parental leave each, with an additional two months transferable between the parents. Thus, employees now get two months of paid and two months of unpaid parental leave. This changes from the previous four months of unpaid leave for each parent.
Sweden Launches Fund Agency for Premium Pension Program
The Swedish government launched a new independent Fund Selection Agency Fondtorgsnämnden to oversee and facilitate premium pension fund selection. The agency will provide participants with access to a wide variety of premium pension funds with varying risk profiles. The change, which took effect on June 20, 2022, is an effort to make investment options reasonable and improve the pension program.
Qatar Rolls Mandatory Health Insurance
Qatar is now requiring employers to obtain minimum basic health insurance from an approved Qatari insurer for all employees, including their eligible dependent family members (spouses and up to three children below the age of 18). Additional insurance beyond the required minimum is optional. Employers that do not provide the required health insurance coverage will not be allowed to obtain new work residence permits or renew existing permits. Additionally, non-compliant employers, including those that pass on the costs of the health insurance premium to employees or their dependents, may be subject to a fine of up to QAR 30,000 for each affected employee. The legislation also requires that foreign nationals traveling to Qatar as visitors must provide proof of health insurance valid in Qatar covering their entire visit. These individuals may purchase a premium through one of the approved insurers in Qatar (at a cost of QAR 50 per month) or use their international insurance, provided it covers Qatar. The law took effect in October 2022.
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