State Support for Families in the Republic of Belarus
Support for families is a national priority in the Republic of Belarus. The family is viewed as the most important source of formation and development of the person, reproduction of human capital, accumulation and transfer of traditions, spiritual and moral values.
A set of measures focusing on large families is being implemented to support families with kids:
- childbirth and child nurture benefits;
- family capital for large families;
- social services for families with kids;
- state support for construction (reconstruction) of housing;
- free food for children under two years of age and other kinds of state personalized social aid;
- guarantees in education, healthcare, pensions, labor laws, tax laws, and housing laws.
A system of state benefits for families with kids
A system of diverse state benefits is in place in Belarus. It includes three groups of benefits: maternity benefits, family benefits, and benefits arising from temporary unemployment due to childcare – a total of 11 benefits (the law on state benefits for families that raise children).
A benefit for taking care of kids under 3 is equal to 35-40% of the country’s average monthly salary.
The benefit is paid until the child turns 3 (including if the person taking care of the child resumes work) to all the beneficiaries regardless of their income, the payment of pension insurance fees, and employment.
The one-time childbirth benefit totals 10 average subsistence budgets for the first child and 14 budgets for the second child and beyond.
In 2019 the government spent Br2.3 billion or 1.7% of the GDP on paying benefits to families with kids. It is one of the highest figures to indicate comparative spending on paying family benefits relating to the birth and care of children in Europe.
The figure stands at 0.66% in Poland, 0.93% in Latvia, 1.2% in Norway, 1.45% in Sweden, 1.55% in Slovakia, 1.56% in France, 1.1% in Germany, 1.42% in Denmark, 1.51% in Finland, 1.65% in Czechia, and 1.83% in Belgium.
Additional benefits are also paid by municipal authorities for giving birth to two kids and more.
Family capital program
A family capital program has been in place since 2015. It provides for a cashless monetary payment as large as $10,000 for giving birth to (adopting) the third and subsequent children (Belarus President Decree No.572 of 9 December 2014 on additional state support measures for families with children).
The family capital program has proved effective. The growth rate of the number of third children and subsequent children born since the program was launched stands at 140.7% in comparison with 2010-2014.
On 1 January 2020 the family capital program was extended by five years through 31 December 2024 (Belarus president decree No.345 of 18 September 2019).
The main novelties of the program: the size of the family capital is now specified in Belarusian rubles (Br22,500) and is subject to annual indexation, possible applications for spending the money ahead of time taking into account needs of large families have been expanded (on improving housing conditions for people in need of better housing, on healthcare and education services).
A system of social services for families with kids
Babysitting is the most popular service for families with kids. It is available to families with two children and more, who were born at the same time (doubles, triplets) and are under 3 years of age, and children with disabilities under 18 years of age. Since 2018 babysitting (nursing) has also been available to families where both parents or one parent in a single-parent family are people with class 1 and 2 disabilities.
Some 2,400 families used the babysitting service in 2019.
Families that raise children with disabilities using boarding schools for children with disabilities are entitled to the social respite service while keeping their rights to all the social benefits (at most 28 days per year). The service is supposed to give parents (members of the family) an opportunity to recover their strength, take care of family issues and everyday life problems.
Public fostering is available in social service centers in order to enable a comprehensive approach to resolving problems of families. As many as 2,800 families with kids used the service in 2019.
Social service centers also work to prevent violence against women and children, problems in families, and crisis situations. Temporary shelter is offered to such persons when necessary.
Legal guarantees in the area of labor laws for families with kids
The norms regulating rights of people with family obligations in employer-employee relationships are specified by the Labor Code of the Republic of Belarus. The main guarantees cover both parents, including stepmothers and stepfathers.
One of the major norms is a three-year parental leave. On the legislative level, a family has a right to determine which working parent will use this employee benefit to take care of a child. The system of granting a parental leave is rather flexible. The period can be divided into parts of any length.
A working mother or father is allowed to take days off with payment in the amount of the average salary in the following situations:
- a parent of a child under 18 with disabilities is allowed to have one additional day off per month with payment from the state social insurance fund;
- a parent of three and more children under 16 (a child under 18 with disabilities) are allowed to have one additional day off per week with payment from the employer’s funds.
Employers are obliged to plan an annual leave for workers during the period when their wives are on a leave for rest and recovery after childbirth.
Labor contracts are extended on a mandatory basis:
- with a working woman on a leave for rest and recovery after childbirth, a mother (a father of a child instead of a mother, a foster parent) on a three-year parental leave before the abovementioned leaves come to an end;
- with a mother (a father of a child instead of a mother, a foster parent) who returned to work from a parental leave before or after their child turned three, with consent – for the period until their child turns at least five.
The following innovations were introduced to the Labor Code to ensure gender parity in a family (entered into force on 28 February 2020):
- a father (a stepfather) is entitled to a short leave of up to 14 days within the first six months after the child is born;
- a father (a stepfather) of a child under 18 with disabilities is allowed to have an annual leave in the summer period;
- a father (a stepfather) of two and more children under 14 (of a child under 18 with disabilities) is allowed to have an annual leave within six months after a job bid;
- equal guarantees for working mothers and working single parents.
In order to help working parents balance their family and professional responsibilities, the Labor Code of the Republic of Belarus has the provisions on teleworking.
National register of families with many children
To make sure that all benefits and guarantees are provided to families with many children in full, the national register of families with many children permanently residing in the Republic of Belarus was launched on 1 January 2020 (presidential Decree No. 264 of 9 July 2019).
As of today, the database contains information about 106,000 families with many children. The majority of families – over 85,000 - bring up three children, 15,000 families have four children, about 4,000 families have five children. The biggest number of families with many children is in Brest Oblast. The largest family with 13 underage children lives in Ivatsevichi District, Brest Oblast. Another family from Luninets District has 12 underage children.
Stimuli for working mothers with many children
The state values mothers and motherhood very much. The Order of Mother is conferred on women for giving birth to and bringing up five and more children. Over 10,000 mothers have been awarded since 1996.