Whenever I’m visiting another city, or another country, I pick up a local newspaper to see what’s on people’s minds there. Last month when Mark and I were in Greece with our daughter and grandson, I found an English edition of Kathimerini, published in Athens.
The October 4-5 issue ran a little story that gladdened my heart, headlined “Bulgarian government to pay pensioners to babysit grandchildren as of January 1.” The story went on to relate how, starting January 2009, pensioners (retired people) will be paid the minimum wage for looking after their grandchildren when they take over child care when the parents return to work.
The Bulgarian Parliament just passed this amendment to the country’s Employment Encouragement law “to help young parents better combine their professional and family engagements.” The amendment allows grandparents to look after a child during its first three years in return for a 240-leva (123 euros, or 156 dollars at current exchange rates) bonus to their pensions, which equals Bulgaria’s minimum wage.
In 2006, in an effort to raise the country’s falling birth rate, Bulgaria introduced measures allowing parents to take 315 days’ leave, the longest in Europe, while continuing to earn 90 percent of their salaries. Wouldn’t both these laws be a godsend here for parents and grandparents!