In most relationships, both partners worked before starting a family. Even after parental leave, this is often supposed to continue, because the financial needs of a family cannot always be covered by a salary alone. However, those who want to return to work after months or years may encounter hurdles that make a complete reorientation necessary. It’s good if this has already been thought of in good time.
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Returning To Work: The Part-time Problem
When it comes to returning to work, women and men usually have to talk to the HR department or former superiors. Only in very few cases is the return to work to be full-time, which makes discussions necessary. Various reasons can speak against a full-time job after parental leave. For example, a lack of childcare options, the desire for more time with one’s own child, or even high deductions due to the division of tax brackets for spouses.
When to talk to former superiors depends on the planned length of parental leave. According to a survey, in Germany
- 33 percent of women and 22 percent of men between seven and twelve months.
- 15 percent of women and eight percent of men 13 to 18 months.
- 37 percent of women and twelve percent of men 24 months.
go on parental leave. The desire for part-time work must be communicated at least three months before the end of parental leave. Few employers are actually pleased about such a request, because they mostly want full-time employees or those who can offer high hourly quotas.
If this is not the case, there is a right to part-time employment under certain conditions. That especially
- If the employment contract was concluded more than half a year ago.
- If a refusal of part-time work cannot be explained by operational reasons.
- And if the employer has more than 15 employees.
But if employers are forced to offer a part-time position despite their unwillingness to do so, this can have a negative impact on the relationship. In addition, parents should always keep in mind that the part-time position may involve significantly less responsibility or other activities, and thus offer less fulfillment.
Last but not least, a particularly important note: reducing working hours is possible, but increasing them afterward is not always. Those who want to work full-time a year later may have to wait a long time for an opportunity to arise. This usually comes when a full-time position can be filled internally. In this case, part-time employees must be given preferential treatment under Section 9 of the Part-Time and Fixed-term Employment Act.
Using Parental Leave As An Opportunity
Consequently, a return to the old employer does not always seem profitable. Disputes about part-time entitlements offer for rather unpopular positions in the company and sometimes even poorer pay do little to whet the appetite for re-entry. In addition, many parents experience during the months off that they want to completely reorient themselves once again and do not want to continue working in their previous job at all.
This is where parental leave can become the ideal career springboard because it offers enough breathing space to devote oneself to new content and to plan the change of direction. Quite a few parents then decide to take up a course of study. Distance learning programs are often more popular with mothers and fathers because here they have more freedom and can schedule their learning workload more flexibly.
Today, academic degrees such as bachelor’s or master’s degrees can also be achieved within the framework of distance learning. However, this undoubtedly involves an investment that young families cannot always afford “off the cuff”. The Private University of Applied Sciences Göttingen has therefore developed a special offer for parents on parental leave, in which part of the fees are waived. Due to the depth of their subject matter, academic degree programs in particular cost more than distance-learning programs without an academic degree.
Those who hone their academic degree during parental leave can put their permanent job on hold and concentrate on their studies alongside care work at home. Career opportunities are often much better with an academic degree in hand, both in terms of self-employment and well-paid jobs.
Tips For Career Planning During Parental Leave
Whether it’s academic studies, retraining, or the daring step into self-employment: during parental leave, mothers and fathers can take the freedom to give their lives a new direction. However, it is particularly important here that they do not put themselves under pressure.
After all, life with a baby cannot be planned. Those who have a writing baby will find it hard to be committed to their studies for some time. In this case, it is helpful if parents can be patient with their children and also with themselves. Personal career plans may then be delayed a little, but the risk of massive overload is reduced.
Mothers and fathers who do not yet know where they want to go after parental leave are best advised to use the initial period to take stock. Personal interests, goals, and talents should be taken into account here and, after some consideration, can lead to a career profile that makes people happy. The next step is to take the necessary steps, seek advice if necessary, and then get started with motivation.