Papamonat? In recent months, there has been much discussion surrounding this topic by the Austrian media after Social Minister Beate Hartinger-Klein (FPÖ) made a promise to grant statutory paternity leave to all fathers.

In Austria, paternity leave does exist (Familienzeitbonus); however, it is up to the employer to grant it or not. Many new fathers do not make use of this option. Possible reasons are potential tension at work, as well as the low monthly income of €700, which to some is an inadequate amount to provide for the family.

The suggestion made by Hartinger-Klein has been both criticized and praised. General Secretary Karlheinz Kopf has claimed that the Papamonat would be impractical and a significant strain on the economy. Most of the businesses in Austria are small and middle-sized. He therefore argues that if men start taking paternity leave, there will be a lack of people in the workforce.

From a general EU perspective, the statutory paternity leave for all fathers would put Austria ahead of some countries, but not many. For comparison, Lithuania has statutory paternity leave of 30 days for all fathers, during which they get 100% of their regular wage. In 2017, the EU Commission proposed a mandatory minimum of ten days for paternity leave. However, this proposal has not become a law yet. The Papamonat is still being discussed. At this point it is unclear if it is going to be implemented.

Below is a summary of Andrea Lehky’s six arguments in support of the Papamonat from her recent article for Die Presse, which we thought were great:

  1. Children don’t come unexpectedly – there is a lot of time, around half a year, to make arrangements for that one month the father will take the leave.
  2. The Papamonat does not last much longer than an extended vacation; some people take three weeks off, another week does not make that much of a difference.
  3. Temporary replacements can solve the issue of paternity leave.
  4. Fathers on leave are not on another planet; they are still able to occasionally check their emails or pick up the phone.
  5. Most customers are people too, and they can understand the importance of paternity leave.
  6. Women have always had this issue, why would Papamonat be any different?