Maternity and Paternity Leave

Maternity and Paternity Leave in Iceland

Standard maternity and paternity leave in Iceland is 9 months with equal rights for the mother and father. The current government is working towards lengthening parental leave and increasing the maximum amount paid.

Parental leave – Time

Three months maternity leave + three months paternity leave + three months you can split between you as you wish.

If either parent decides not to use his or her parental leave, the other parent is not allowed to use their months. One parent is allowed to take all of the three months that you can split between the two of you.

It is often possible to negotiate with your employer to extend parental leave over a longer period of time but this will lower your income each month proportionally.

Parental leave – Money

Standard paternal leave is 80% of your average income, capped at ISK 520,000 per month (before taxes). There is a special scheme for students (max ISK 171,711) and people outside the workforce (max ISK 74,926). There is more information and statistics available, in Icelandic, at the Directorate of Labour.

Offering the same benefits to mothers and fathers regarding maternity and paternity leave is seen as an important step for gender equality in Iceland.

To apply for maternity or paternity leave, please contact Fæðingarorlofssjóður.


In Iceland, giving birth is usually done at a hospital with midwives attending to you and a doctor on call. You are not charged especially for giving birth in Iceland as it is part of the healthcare system. Home-births are becoming more popular and if that is your preference, two midwives will come to your place and help you there; it is only allowed for low-risk pregnancies. Caesarian sections are not common in Iceland and usually reserved for complicated pregnancies. After giving birth, a midwife will come to your place for five days to make sure everything is alright, (s)he will help you with breastfeeding, and check on the baby. This service is then taken over by the local health care facility and a nurse will come to weigh your baby and when the baby reaches 10-12 weeks you will start visiting your local Primary Healthcare (heilsugæsla) to meet with a nurse (and sometimes doctor) to continue weighing and measuring the baby and start immunizations.

More information on antenatal and postnatal care in the capital area can be found in this document from the Primary Health Care of the Capital Area.