The parents of a child are entitled to paid leave at childbirth, when adopting a child or when becoming permanent foster parents. Parents receive either leave payments or a childbirth grant from the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund, depending on their labour market situation. Parents are also entitled to take temporary unpaid parental leave until the child reaches 8 years of age.
Parents are entitled to leave from paid work upon the birth of a child, upon their initial adoption of a child under the age of eight or the placement of a child in their permanent foster care. A miscarriage after 18 weeks of pregnancy and a stillbirth after 22 weeks of pregnancy also confers the right to parental leave.
- The length of maternity/paternity leave depends upon what year the child is born, adopted or taken into permanent foster care.
- The duration for a child born in 2021 and later is a total of 12 months. Each parent is entitled to 6 months leave, of which 6 weeks are transferable to the other parent.
- The duration for a child born in 2020 is a total of 10 months. Each parent is entitled to 4 months leave which are non-transferable, with an additional 2 months of joint entitlement, i.e. one parent can take this entire period or the parents can share it.
Parents may begin their maternity/paternity leave up to one month before the estimated date of birth of a child. They are always entitled to take maternity/paternity leave in a single, continuous period; in other respects, the employer and employee can reach agreement on the arrangements for parental leave. Leave cannot, however, be taken in periods shorter than two weeks at a time. The mother is obliged by law to be on leave for the first two weeks after childbirth.
Parents in the labour market must apply for payments six weeks before the expected date of birth. Parents in full-time study or not active in the labour market must apply for a childbirth grant three weeks before the expected date of birth.
Application for parental leave is made to the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund (Fæðingarorlofssjóður).
Parents are entitled to payment from the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund after having been in continuous employment for six months in the domestic labour market prior to the birth of the child or the date the parent begins parental leave before the date of birth of a child.
A parent who has worked in another EEA country for part of the above-mentioned six-month period can transfer the entitlement between countries if he/she commences employment in the Icelandic labour market within 10 working days of leaving employment in another EEA country and works for at least one month before the birth date of the child in Iceland. The parent must provide the required certificates verifying working periods and periods of insurance in another EEA state with an application for payments from the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund Calculation of payments is, however, based solely on wages in the domestic labour market.
The person must have worked in at least 25% of a full-time position each month. Payments amount to 80% of the parent’s average total salary
This is based on a period of twelve consecutive months, concluding six months prior to the month of the child's birth. However, payments may never exceed a certain maximum or fall below the minimum amount currently applicable.
Entitlement to maternity/paternity leave expires when the child is 24 months old. Application for payments must be made to the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund six weeks before the estimated date of birth.
Payments are paid at the end of the month for the previous month of parental leave.
Moving to another Nordic country before or during maternity/paternity leave
As a general rule, parents earn entitlement to maternity/paternity leave in the country in which they work.
If a parent has moved to Iceland after the birth of a child, the parent is not entitled to Icelandic maternity/paternity leave, but if the parent has moved to Iceland before the child’s birth he/she may be entitled to payments from the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund or to a childbirth grant, if specific conditions are satisfied.
The Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund (Icel. Fæðingarorlofssjóður) provides more information on whether the person is entitled to maternity/paternity leave in Iceland.
A parent moving to Iceland after beginning maternity/paternity leave must apply to continue the leave payments from their previous state. Parents must contact the relevant administrative authority in the country which they are leaving to obtain information on how to receive maternity/paternity leave payments when they are resident abroad.
If a parent transfers their legal domicile to another country while receiving maternity/paternity leave payments, this does not affect payments to the parent, as it concerns entitlement already earned. However, the parent is not permitted to work during that period unless the parent postpones taking maternity/paternity leave in consultation with the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund.
Maternity/Paternity leave when the family lives in Iceland but one or both parents work in another Nordic country
As a general rule parental leave payments are paid by the country in which the person is covered by social insurance. If a person works in another Nordic country but lives in Iceland, the maternity/paternity leave payments are to come from the country of employment. A person who works and lives in one country but also works in another country continues to be covered by the social insurance and law of the country of residence.
Parents who each work in a different country are entitled to maternity/paternity leave in accordance with the rules applicable in each of their countries of employment.
Temporary parental leave
In addition to leave at the birth of a child, each parent is entitled to take unpaid leave, referred to as temporary parental leave, for up to 16 weeks until a child reaches eight years of age. No payments are made during temporary parental leave and parents cannot transfer rights between themselves.
Parents who are not in the labour market or in less than 25% of a full-time position may be entitled to a childbirth grant. The requirements for payment are usually that a parent must be domiciled in Iceland when the child is born and must have been for the last twelve months preceding the birth. Entitlement to a childbirth grant expires when the child is 24 months old. Application for a childbirth grant must be made no later than three weeks before the estimated date of birth.
Students who have been in full-time study for at least 6 of the past 12 months prior to the birth of a child and satisfied requirements for study progress during that time are entitled to a childbirth grant.
Who should I contact if I have questions?
More information can be found on the website of the Maternity/Paternity Leave Fund. You can also obtain information by telephone at +354 515 4800.
Please fill in our contact form if you have any questions or if you have encountered an obstacle in another Nordic country.
NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.