Economy does not want to pay for new leave for fathers

BWorking fathers who want to be with their family for two weeks after the birth of their child should no longer be dependent on parental allowance or vacation for this time off: they should be able to redeem a new entitlement to “family start time” with their employer and, despite being on leave, should be able to do so receive wages. This is what the current plans of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs envisage. It is not yet clear who will pay for this. However, there are many indications that companies should be asked to pay a higher contribution for maternity benefit.

In business circles, the project itself has met with criticism. The protest against financing this at the expense of companies is all the stronger. If the state establishes new entitlements to time off, “it must also bear the costs and must not burden the employers alone with the burden,” warned Wolfgang Steiger, Secretary General of the Economic Council, a business association close to the CDU. It is now a matter of getting the economy “back on the growth path with relief, also in the interests of the employees,” he emphasized. Instead of charging her for higher social security contributions – such as for long-term care insurance – for a “father’s break”, that’s not an option.

The general manager of the employers’ association BDA, Steffen Kampeter, turned primarily against the approach of new exemption claims. Politicians must decide whether they want this “or whether they want to alleviate the labor shortage,” he explained. Both together do not work. He also welcomes “the fact that many partners want to take on more responsibility when their children are born”. But no new law is needed for this. “Parental leave and parental allowance have long given families the opportunity to take a break from work after birth.”

Full wages for two weeks

The Family Ministry of Lisa Paus (Greens) had previously confirmed a report by ARD that in future “the partner” of the mother should be released from work for the first two weeks after the birth, with full wages. The ARD had also reported that the costs “should not be financed by the employer, but by a pay-as-you-go system”. However, the same report also said: “Employers pay a contribution and are then reimbursed by the health insurance company for the maternity benefits to be paid.”

When asked, the ministry initially did not provide any further information on the content of the draft law, which is said to be on its way to the cabinet. The purpose of the project, however, is that parents are “more specifically supported in implementing partnership in the early family phase”.

Good for high earners

Even today, fathers with parental allowance can take paid time off after the birth of their child, even longer than two weeks. The tax-financed parental allowance replaces only 65 percent of the lost wages, a maximum of 1800 euros per month. The planned new service would therefore be most worthwhile for high earners.

Theoretically, full wage compensation could also be technically implemented by simply increasing the parental benefit entitlement in the first two weeks. But that is probably not the intention. An employer-financed system already exists today with the U2 contribution for employer contributions to maternity benefit. The companies pay around half a percent of their salary to the health insurance companies and then receive reimbursements if they have to pay the statutory benefit to employees.

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