Past and Recent Population Polic....
Political and social changes in the first half of the 1990s prompted the drafting of a new concept of social policy which is based on three pillars: social insurance, social assistance and social benefits. The state helps families with children through state social assistance. The law on state social assistance was adopted in 1995. The legislation was devised to prevent low-income families from falling into poverty and to help solve some social situations such as maternity, childbirth, and upbringing and maintenance of a child in the family. The new system of social policy is based on the subsistence level. The limit of the subsistence level has become not only a criterion for acknowledging a claim, but also a basis for the definition of the payment of some social benefits derived from the family income. The relevant benefits are automatically raised in dependence with index-linking of the subsistence level. This is made if consumer prices increase by 5% since the previous establishment of the sums. Social benefits which directly relate to families include the maternity grant, grant for parents and child benefits. While the former two have been preserved as benefits paid automatically, the latter are only provided depending on the whole income situation of a family. Along with the above-mentioned social benefits there is also a financial assistance in maternity paid within the health insurance. The system of indirect financial assistance, which in the past consisted of various price cuts and subsidies from the public budget, has been continually reduced since 1990.
Maternity grant is a one-off benefit destined to partially cover the expenses arisen in association with the birth of a child. A law passed in 1995 defined the maternity grant as an automatic benefit, which means that it did not depend on the total income of a family. The maternity grant amounts to the fourfold value of the life subsistence. If there are twins, the maternity grant is the fivefold value and if there are three or more children born, it is the ninefold value of the life subsistence for the childrenīs personal needs.
Financial assistance in maternity
Financial assistance in maternity is a benefit which is to replace the previous working income to an economically active woman during her maternity leave. Its value depends on the income of the woman before the confinement because it is defined as a percentage of her net daily salary. Since July 1, 1987 the duration of the paid maternity leave amounts to 28 weeks, including six weeks before the confinement. In the following years the time during which the financial assistance in maternity was paid did not change. However, the value of the financial assistance was modified. Since January 1, 1994 it is a sum corresponding to 69% of the daily basis of assessment. On October 1, 1999 the value of the basis of assessment was increased, while the woman can receive a maximum of 323 crowns per day.
Grant for parents
Grant for parents helps cover the costs of a parent who does not work because she/he must care for the small child. The claim can be raised by a parent who properly looks after at least one child under three years all day long. When the grant for parents is paid, gainful employment is allowed in a limited extent so that it does not harm the daylong care for the child. The grant for parents was introduced since October 1, 1990 and it replaced the original maternity benefit, introduced in 1970. Since October 1, 1995 the value of the grant for parents is defined as the subsistence level times 1.1 for the personal needs of the caring parent and the duration of its payment has been prolonged from three to four years of the childīs age.
Child benefit is the basic allowance for families with dependent children which helps cover the costs associated with upbringing and maintenance of children. Until 1993 it was paid according to the number of children in a family. Given the objectives of a new social policy the calculation of the payment was changed in the first half of the 1990s. It was decided not to take into account the number of children in a family, but growing costs for upbringing and maintenance, depending on their age. The amount of child benefits is defined according to the age of the child since November 1, 1993. On January 1, 1996 the child benefit was modified again. It is defined as a legal claim and it is paid until the end of compulsory school attendance (in specific cases until the age of 26). The claim as well as its value are linked with the amount of the subsistence level. The money belongs to the child living in a family whose income does not exceed three times the subsistence level. The value of the benefit is defined according to the whole income of the household, while three categories were introduced: increased, if the family income does not exceed the 1.1 multiple of the subsistence level; basic, if the family income reaches 1.1 to 1.8 the multiple; and decreased, if the family income is 1.8 to 3.0 multiple of the life subsistence. The benefit was established as 32% of the amount for the childīs personal needs in the first, 28% in the second and 14% in the third categories.
A law passed in 1957 allowed abortions on broadly defined social grounds. However, the abortion was made conditional on the consent of a special commission for abortions. At present a law, passed in 1986 and cancelling the commissions, is valid. Thanks to this abortions have become accessible to most categories of women, only upon a request. A 1992 Health Ministry decree established that the woman may pay for abortion on other than health grounds a fee whose maximum price is established by the Finance Ministry.
Law on family
A new law on family took effect on August 1, 1998. The legislation newly defines the dissolution of a marriage through divorce upon mutual agreement on condition that the marriage lasted at least one year and the spouses did not live together for at least six months. On the other hand, divorce is made more difficult in the cases when the proposal is rejected by a spouse who did not contribute to the breakdown of the marriage and who would be severely harmed by the divorce. This principle is not heeded in the cases when the spouses did not live together for more than three years. Moreover, conditions for divorce were made stricter if the marriage includes minor children.
In the early 1990s there was a transformation of the age-old pension scheme. In 1994 a law on supplementary pension insurance with state contribution came into force. The law introduced supplementary pension insurance which became a certain supplement to the basic system of pension insurance. The supplementary pension system is based on individual principle. Within this system people can take an active part in securing their future. Moreover, starting 2000 tax reliefs will be introduced.
On January 1, 1996 a new law on pension insurance took effect. Main changes occurred in the conditions of the claim for the pension and in the calculation of the pension. Moreover, index-linking of pensions was introduced. It was established that the age limit for those eligible for old-age pension will be gradually increased by two months a year for men and four months a year for women. Starting 2007 men will be eligible for old-age pension at the age of 62 years (instead of 60 years as prior to 1995) and women at the age of 57-61 years according to the number of brought-up children (instead of 53-57 years). Moreover, a two-component calculation of the pension will be introduced, in which the pension will consist of a fixed basic sum plus a special sum which will depend on the amount of the salary and the duration of insurance.