Paternal leave still an exception in Austria

In Austria, traditional gender roles are prevalent: men go to work while women stay at home with children during their first years of life. 

Roxane Seckauer
Roxane Seckauer Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Paternal leave still an exception in Austria - NewsMavens
Father and baby

Why this story matters:

Since 1990, Austrian men have the option to take paternal leave to care for their children. Nevertheless, this model of child-rearing is only chosen by a minority of men, and it is mostly women who stay home.

Only one fifth of Austrian fathers take paternal leave. In some federal states the figures fall to ten percent. 

Sociologist Eva-Maria Schmidt from the University of Vienna believes this social phenomenon is caused by the prevailing role models in Austria:

"The image of the family man is still very much tied to his responsibility as breadwinner."

But it also worth taking into consideration the remaining hurdles on the way to equal partnership. Companies often have little to no experience with offering paternal leave, and may end up providing inadequate support.

Political change would be needed to finally give fathers opportunities and incentives to play a more active role in raising children. Researcher Florian Holzinger emphasizes that the current government is going in the opposite direction with its plans to implement a twelve-hour workday.

"The twelve-hour day is certainly the wrong signal to send if you want to improve equality and quality of life."

Details from the story:

  • Men who decide to go on paternal leave usually receive two months off or less.
  • The highest rate of paternal leave is in Vienna (28%). The lowest rates are in  Vorarlberg and Burgenland (10%). The Austrian average is 20%.
  • Austria also offers a child care allowance. New parents can choose between a lump sum or an income-dependent sum.
  • According to a recent German study, fathers are most satisfied when they work 50 hours per week. Few men report being concerned with reconciling family duties and work.
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