Paternity Leave in Austria

Seminar Paper, 2019

22 Pages, Grade: A



1. Introduction

2. Legal Framework
a) Maternity Leave (Mutterschutzurlaub)
b) Parental Leave (Karenz)
c) Paternity Leave (Papa Monat)
d) Maternity and Paternity Leave European Union

3. Country Comparison
a) Great Britain
b) France
c) Sweden

4. Debate
a) Political Actors
b) Population
c) Experts

5. Hypothesis Analysis

6. Summery

7. Table Index

8. References

1. Introduction

In February 2019 the Federal Minister for Labor, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection of the Republic of Austria, Beate Hartinger-Klein (Freedome Party), addressed the topic men involvement in child care. Ms. Hartinger-Klein demanded in an interview by the national television broadcaster ORF a so-called Papa Monat. She thereby asked for a law which allows men to stay at home one month after the birth of a child. In 2017, the current coalition introduced already a so-called Familienzeitbonus which is a financial aid for men who stay at home after the child was born and amounts approximately 700€. In the interview, the minister argues that only 6% of men take the Familienzeitbonus as there is no law which ensures a time off after the birth of a child. (ORF 02/03/2019) The suggestion for a month paternity leave sparked in February a debate in the country, led by the chamber of commerce as well as by the coalition partner, the Austrian People Party (ÖVP). The minister of economics, Margarete Schramböck, argued: the companies want to secure jobs. If we have a high level of benefits in Austria, as we can see at the ancillary wage costs, then we cannot continue to burden the companies. What we can certainly do is discuss whether we should introduce something and where else relieve the burden for it. (APA, February 06, 2019) She thereby stated that she is not against the Papa Monat but demands additionally new regulations that discharge businesses (cf. APA, February 06, 2019). Federal Minister for Women, Families and Youth Ms. Juliane Bogner-Strauss (Austrian People Party, ÖVP) argued within the family committee of the National Council in April that the reason why fathers are less involved in child care is not the legal framework but a societal problem as men don’t use the parental leave system either. She stated, that only 5% of men with children work part-time, while 75% of women with children work part-time. (cf. APA, April 19, 2019)

Regarding the statement of Ms. Bogner-Strass, the hypothesis discussed in this paper is: A change in the law regarding paternity leave would not have a significant impact on the caring situation of parents in Austria if no additional measures are taken.

To discuss this hypothesis, the term paper first introduces the legal foundation regarding the topic child care in Austria and the European Union. The terms, parental leave, maternity leave as well as paternity leave in Austria are explained. Additionally, the new European Union regulation regarding paternity leave will be explicated. The focus of this chapter lies clearly on paternity leave. Second, the current debate in Austria regarding paternity leave will be described as well as the different interest groups will be identified. Third, the term paper will describe paternity leave in other countries of the European Union. The chapter will thereby give first a general overview about the situation regarding paternity leave in Europe and will then explain the regulations in Great Britain, France and Sweden in more detail. In the end, the paper will analyze the above-mentioned hypothesis, including personal thought of the author.

2. Legal Framework

As the legal environment in Austria differs a lot from the one in the United States, this chapter will give a short overview about the most important regulations regarding child care in Austria. All laws explained can thereby only be applied to employees, trainees and home workers. In Austria there exist three different terms that describe the leave of a parent after a baby was born, maternity leave, parental leave and paternity leave. It is thereby important to understand the difference between these three terminologies. The paper will additionally introduce the German term, as well as some synonyms used in the literature. Finally, the new paternity leave regulation, set be the European Union will be discussed.

a) Maternity Leave (Mutterschutzurlaub)

In Austria, pregnant women are not allowed to work eight weeks before they give birth to a baby and eight weeks after they gave birth, independent of their citizenship, the time worked and the hours worked. Special conditions allow a doctor to extend this protection time if the baby or the mum are at risk. After a caesarean section the maternity leave will be automatically extended to twelve weeks. The leave is not paid by the employer but by the insurance. The maternity allowance is thereby calculated by the average earnings of the previous three months before taking the maternity leave. (cf. Kammer für Arbeit und Angestellte für Wien 2019b)

b) Parental Leave (Karenz)

The parental leave starts right after the maternity leave and if taken, must last at least two months. The parental leave can be split twice by the parents. During the time of the leave, parents are protected from dismissal. The protection lasts till maximum the day before the second birthday of the child. During the time of caring, parents don’t receive any wages, but child care allowance. Since March 2017 the law offers two options for child care allowance, one income-dependent childcare allowance and a child care allowance account. The second option allows the parents to decide over the length of the leave. If one of the parents takes the parental leave with the childcare allowance account, the maximum leave amounts 28 months with a daily payment of 14.53 Euro. For 12 months leave, the daily amount would be increased to 33.88 Euro. If both parents take the parental leave, they would receive the 33.88 Euro for 456 days and the 33.88 Euro for 1063 days. The first option, in turn, can only be taken for one year and amounts 80% of the previous average income, however minimum 33.88 Euro a day. (cf. Kammer für Arbeit und Angestellte für Wien 2019a) Although the parental leave system in Austria privileges shared child care time, in 2011 only 8,4% of parents in parental leave were men. (cf. Reidl and Schiffbänk 2013)

A study be Zulehner in 2003 determined reasons why men were not taking the parental leave in Austria, this can be seen in table 1. Men and women were asked if they agree or disagree that the reason Loss of Income, for example, discourage men not to take the parental leave. I would categorize the reasons into three main reasons, income loss, career threat and gender roles. It can be clearly seen in the table, that the biggest fear is the one of losing the income. This fear is warrantable if parents decide to take the childcare allowance account. I would like to mention here, that during the time of the study of Zulehner, the income-dependent option didn’t exist as it was introduced in 2010, why the data might have changed as only the childcare allowance account exist. Data showed, that with the introduction of the new allowance system, more men took the parental leave. For the second category I would summarize the reasons losing touch in job, career renouncement, impossible with this job and comeback possible. On average, 33% of people agreed to one of these reasons. The last three reasons mentioned, I would categorize under the headline ascribed gender roles which 13% of man and even 28 % of the women mentioned as a reason a man is not taking the leave. (cf. Zulehner 2003)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Reasons for not taking the parental leave

c) Paternity Leave (Papa Monat)

In 2008 the term Papa Monat first appeared on the political scene in Austria, when the social minister demanded a paternity leave for men one month after the baby was born. In 2011 this leave was introduced (cf. Reidl and Schiffbänk 2013), but only for employees of the public sector at the federal level as well as in the states Burgenland, Niederösterreich, Oberösterreich, Salzburg, Steiermark, Tirol, Wien and Vorarlberg (cf. Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit und Konsumentenschutz 2019). The paternity leave in Austria consists of a legal allowance for parents to stay at home after the birth of a baby for maximum 31 days in a row, unpaid.

In 2017, the Reform of Childcare Benefit Models introduced a funding for the leave, the so called Familienzeitbonus. In this paper I will refer to it as family time bonus. This bonus was introduced to help parents financially if they take a month off for their newborn. (cf. Sardadvar and Mairhuber 2018) The financial aid of the family time bonus, paid by the insurance, however, only amounts around 700€, which is to less to live with in Austria. There are as well some eligibility requirements to receive the bonus. Examples are, having a permanent joint household with the child and the partner and having been employed the last 182 days without interruption. (cf. Bundeskanzleramt - Frauen, Familien und Jugend 2018) The reform 2017 nevertheless, didn’t introduce a law which allows such a baby month for employees of all sectors and thereby mainly benefitted employees of the public sector. Although a research project “Männer und Vereibarkeit von Beruf und Familie“ has shown that in many cases, families took one month off after the birth of a kid through agreements with their employers and could as well benefit from the family time bonus. (cf. Sardadvar and Mairhuber 2018) Unpaid holidays could for example been taken with the consent of the employer and some collective agreements even allow sometimes a paid Papa Monat. (cf. Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales, Gesundheit und Konsumentenschutz 2019) That said, the baby month is highly supported by the Austrian people, as many parents take already one month off without legal support and a law is hence highly required. (cf. Sardadvar and Mairhuber 2018)

d) Maternity and Paternity Leave European Union

The European Union can set regulations and directives for all member states. Set regulations of the EU can thereby be seen as law in the individual countries, while directives only set a goal which member states have to peruse until a given date. Regarding the maternity leave, the European Union set a Pregnant Workers Directive in 1992 which required a minimum maternity leave of 14 weeks, four of them compulsory (two before and two after giving birth). The allowance during this period has had to be adequate for the national state legislation. In 2010, the Commission and the Parliament extend the maternity leave to 20 weeks, six of them compulsory and fully paid. Additionally, they introduced a two-week full-paid paternity leave. (cf. European Parliament 2019a) As the Council deadlocked this directive it was withdrawn in 2015 and will be replaced by the work-life balance package. The European Union takes a broader approach in addressing the underrepresentation of women in the labor market. The package would include a ten-days paternity leave regulation paid based on sick pay, without a change in the maternity leave regulation. (cf. European Commission 2019) On April 4th, the parliament voted on the package and approved it. The member states will now have to comply the regulation within three years. (cf. European Parliament 2019b)

3. Country Comparison

This chapter will compare the paternity leave regulations of other European countries to the one in Austria.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: Paternity Leave Comparison EU

Before discussing some countries in more detailed, figure 2 gives an overview of the paternity leave regulations of the countries within the European Union. (cf. European Parliament 2019a) The graph shows, that Sweden has the best paternity leave regulation with two months including an 80% payment, followed by Finland with 9 weeks leave. Thirteen countries of the European Union pay during the paternity leave 100% of the income and fifteen countries meet the two weeks of the new work-life balance directive of the European Union. Thirteen countries don’t meet the regulation and Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Hungary, and Slovakia even don’t have any paternity regulations on the federal level. The graph shows, that Austria is at the back of the list in terms of paternity leave within the European Union.

a) Great Britain

As it can be seen in the table, the United Kingdom guarantees two weeks paternity leave, paid depending on the previous income. This law changed in 2004 from 2 days to two weeks. On the one hand side, it is argued in the book Frauenerwerbstätigkeit in Geschlechterregimen: Großbritanien, Frankreich und Schweden im Vergleich, that fathers want to participate more in the family life, on the other hand side, the introduction of the new law in 2004 has neither changed the participation of man regarding caregiving nor has provoked a change of the view regarding gender mainstreaming in caring. The book thereby argues that Great Britain is still far away from an equal participation of fathers regarding child care and taking paternity leave is still far away from normality. As a solution, it is argued that more role models are needed as for example the Prime Minister Tony Blair.(cf. Halwachs 2010, 72–76)

b) France

In 2002 a law in France was passed which allows a father to take eleven days off for a newborn, plus seven days by multiple births (paid in the same way as the maternity leave). Additionally, three days fully paid after the birth of a child are guaranteed by the state. In some firms in France, despite fully paid wages for two weeks, only 42% of fathers took the paternity leave. According to experts, the reasons are the little amount of role models in higher positions as well as the female image of taking off for a newborn. If we compare the regulation of paternity leave to the one of maternity leave, it can be seen that the role of child caring is still ascribed to the woman. In 2004, around 33% of the fathers took, on average, 10.8 baby days off and 20% only took the three days off after the birth of the child. Paternity leave was most likely taken in the public sector and less likely in part-time and insecure jobs (44% were not taking it). (cf. Halwachs 2010, 122–27)


Excerpt out of 22 pages


Paternity Leave in Austria
University of New Orleans
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Papa Monat, Paternity Leave, work-life balance package
Quote paper
Raphaela Fischnaller (Author), 2019, Paternity Leave in Austria, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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