Concrete, binding and open: Anyone who talks to the manager with clear ideas about the planned parental leave has already gained a lot. Where are the biggest pitfalls lurking?
If there is a baby coming up, parents-to-be suddenly have to sort out hundreds of things at the same time. This also includes: making agreements with the employer. To ensure that everything runs smoothly during the planned parental leave, you should discuss the forthcoming changes with your superiors at an early stage.
Kaarina Hauer knows what is important: openness, commitment and concrete planning - for example, when it comes to the duration of parental leave. Her tip: If you want to return part-time, you should apply for parental leave for two or three years. This creates more options for returning when it comes to working time models, according to the head of legal advice at the Bremen Chamber of Labor.
She remembers the times when expectant parents were humbly perceived as supplicants. That has changed: According to Kaarina Hauer's experience, there are fewer conflicts than before when submitting parental leave.
Nevertheless, not all parents-to-be go into a conversation with the manager without worrying. For example, it is important to find the right time. As the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs advises in a brochure on the subject, employees should wait for the time when they are ready to communicate impending motherhood or fatherhood - and which allows careful planning and implementation of necessary processes before parental leave.
If the manager does not have a clear head due to unforeseen events, it is advisable to postpone the conversation. In general, employees do well if they try to put themselves in the employer's perspective and anticipate possible concerns in advance, according to the guide.
For example, expectant parents should signal that they are looking forward to returning to work and have concrete ideas about it. This makes it clear to the employer that he does not have to worry whether the specialist will come back. Listing tasks and responsibilities in full will help the team decide who is best placed to replace you while you're away.
The issue of re-entry also needs to be clarified. "It can get critical when it comes to part-time working hours when you return to work," says Kaarina Hauer. If, for example, specialists in a doctor's practice all only want to work from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is difficult to organize the practice.
"In such situations, we advise you not to stick rigidly to your own ideas, but ideally to examine alternatives yourself and to talk to your superiors with your own ideas." Perhaps one long working day per week could be offered, says Hauer. If both sides show understanding for each other, you can make progress together.
In order to be able to make suggestions that are as concrete as possible, Hauer advises clarifying with your partner in advance how childcare will be divided between them and how working hours will be coordinated.
The basic requirement for good agreements is to know your own needs. Career advisor Ragnhild Struss writes in her blog that anyone who worries a lot about whether child and career can actually be reconciled can work on their own expectations.
The question is not whether one can continue to develop in the future, but how. Even in a new role and function, parents are a valuable resource in working life, especially through newly gained knowledge and skills, the counselor assures.
It is important to plan enough flexibility together with the employer so that return plans can also be adjusted later. Maybe your own ideas about a career or professional life will change again as soon as a child shapes everyday life.
No matter which plans you ultimately decide on: If possible, you should try to keep in touch with the company during your parental leave, advises Kaarina Hauer: "Visit summer festivals, take part in the Christmas party, maybe meet up with colleagues at lunchtime and basically show interest."
Kaarina Hauer finds it regrettable that parental leave is still often seen as an issue for expectant mothers. The number of men who received parental allowance increased by 2.1 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. In 2021, however, the proportion of fathers who received parental allowance was still only 25.3 percent (2020: 24.8 percent).
In the majority, fathers only take on the smaller part: while women received parental allowance for an average of 14.6 months in 2021, it was 3.7 months for men. According to the Federal Statistical Office, this distribution has remained practically constant in recent years.
Kaarina Hauer also observes this in her consultations. She suspects that traditional role models still prevail. In addition, men still usually have the better salaries, so that monetary aspects can also be the cause of these decisions.