On 2 July 2019, the Austrian government amended the Paternity Leave Act and introduced a legal right to one month of government-funded paternity leave for private sector male employees following the birth of their child. Employers can no longer refuse to grant this leave, which is referred to as “daddy-month.” The amendment is in force as of 1 September 2019.
Prior to this change, unpaid one-month parental leave was a legal right for civil servants and subject to employers’ approval for private sector male employees. Collective bargaining agreements may have included a right for private sector male employees to take one-month paternity leave.
The new law aims to support women’s labor market participation by guaranteeing paternity leave for those who request it and thereby increasing fathers’ involvement in childcare.
The new paternity leave right is open to all expecting fathers, regardless of their years of service. The leave does not regard the parents’ marital status, so long as they live in the same household as the child.
The new right should be implemented by all employers, regardless of their size. The leave must be used in a single block of time until the end of the period during which the mother is prohibited from restarting work after childbirth (varies between six and 12 weeks depending on special circumstances, such as multiple births, etc.).
To take advantage of the new paternity leave entitlement, male employees should notify their employer three months prior to the expected date of birth. The exact start date of the leave must be communicated to the employer one week after childbirth, at the latest. The consent of the employer is not required to take the leave. In addition, male employees are entitled to special protection against termination of their employment. This protection starts the day the male employee announces his intention to take the leave until four weeks after the end of the leave.
Fathers will be eligible to receive EUR 22.60 per day from by the government so long as they have been insured for at least 182 days prior to applying for the paternity leave. Employers are not required to supplement pay for the one-month leave.
The expected use of the new right is debatable given the low amount paid during the one-month leave. Employers should consider the need for increased organizational flexibility in the case that paternity leave is requested. Employers should also review their leave policy and ensure compliance by 1 September 2019.