Fathers do not have to pay for their attendance at birth
The Constitutional Court on April 26, 2016 granted the constitutional complaint of a father who did not agree to pay an amount of 500.00 CZK to a medical facility as standard costs for his presence at the birth of his child. The complainant fought at the Constitutional Court against the general practice according to which fathers were without payment for their attendance at birth prevented from being present at delivery of their child in the delivery room, what the complainant regarded as a contradiction to the fundamental right of protection of the family.
The Constitutional Court found that the applicant’s rights were violated because the realization of his right to be present at the birth shall not be dependent on a payment of the normal operating costs of the birth clinic – among others costs for unique clothing and shoe covers –. The Constitutional Court also noted that the mere presence at birth cannot be charged with a payment obligation for the presence at the birth or the usual operating costs of the medical institution, since e.g. hygienic clothing, disinfectants, surgical mask or shoe covers, must be available in general for all those who are in the medical institution (also employees, personnel for transport and care, patients and their entourage or visitors.
The reasons given for the judgment by the Constitutional Court also express the circumstances under which certain payments for the presence of a person at birth may be required, not to be limited to the child’s father. In connection with the presence at birth, only those services can be charged with a fee that exceed the scope of the legal obligations of the institution. In relation to these services the person, however, must have an opportunity to comment on whether they are interested in the service or not. For certain services or actions that need to be made available due to its nature, then the payment can be demanded readily. However, payment must be reasonable and must not stand in substantial disproportion to the set-up costs, the necessary scope and in relation to the actual services provided.
If a person refuses to a advance payment to be present, according to the Constitutional Court, this must not affect his right to be present at birth. An appropriate flat-rate fee is not unconstitutional, but the fee must at least generally correspond to a reasonable compensation. The generalization cannot be a means of veiled profit or replacement of health insurance revenue or be used as means to prevent others from sticking to their plan to attend birth.
(Case – Case number IV ÚS 3035/15.)