A case initiated with respect to the procedure for disbursing parental benefit and childcare benefit to parents of a prematurely born child
On 27 February 2020, the 4th Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Para 2 of Section 104 (4) of the law “On Maternity and Sickness Insurance” and Section 7 (11) of “Law on State Social Allowances” with the first sentence of Article 91 and Article 110 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norms
Para 2 of Section 104 (4) of the law “On Maternity and Sickness Insurance”:
“Parental benefit may be selected for the same child in respect of one of the following periods of time: [..]
2) for childcare up to the age of one and a half year.”
Section 7 (11) of “Law on State Social Allowances”:
“A childcare benefit shall be granted to a person caring for a child up to the age of two years.”
The Norms of Higher Legal Force
The first sentence of Article 91 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereafter – the Satversme): “All human beings in Latvia shall be equal before the law and the courts”.
Article 110 of the Satversme: “The State shall protect and support marriage – a union between a man and a woman, the family, the rights of parents and rights of the child. The State shall provide special support to disabled children, children left without parental care or who have suffered from violence”.
The case was initiated on the basis of an application by a person, whose child was born prematurely. In accordance with the contested norms, the parental benefit was disbursed to her until the child reached the age of a year and a half, whereas the childcare benefit – until the child reached the age of two years.
The applicant holds that the contested norms do not comply with the principle of legal equality and the principle that the rights of the child take the priority. The norms, allegedly, envisage disbursement the childcare benefit until the child reaches a certain age. At the time when the disbursement of the benefit is discontinued, the formal age of the prematurely child does not to correspond to their biological age. A child like this requires more lengthy and intensive care. Hence, the contested norms place the applicant in a worse situation compared to parents whose child was not born prematurely.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 27 April 2020.
The term for preparing the case is 27 July 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Linked case: 2020-13-01