Make an open and binding agreement with the employer.

Profession and family
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Get ready for parental leave

Concrete, binding, and open: Anyone who talks to the principal with clear ideas about planned parental leave has already gotten a lot in. Where are the biggest risks?

If a baby is coming, parents have to suddenly sort out hundreds of things at the same time. This also includes making agreements with the employer. To make sure everything goes smoothly during your planned parental leave, you should discuss upcoming changes with your superiors at an early stage.

Karina Hauer knows what’s important: openness, commitment, concrete planning – eg the duration of parental leave. Her advice: If you want to return part-time, you should apply for two or three years of parental leave. This creates more options for coming back when it comes to working time forms, according to the head of legal advice at the Labor Chamber in Bremen, who recalls times when future parents were seen as petitioners. That has changed: In your experience, there are fewer conflicts than before when introducing parental leave.

However, not all parents enter into a conversation with the principal without concern. For example, it is important to find the right time. As the Federal Department of Family Affairs advises in a handbook on the subject, employees should wait for the time when they are ready to report impending maternity or paternity — which allows for careful planning and implementation of necessary operations prior to parental leave.

In general, employees do well if they try to put themselves in the employer’s perspective and anticipate potential concerns, according to the guide. Parents should indicate that they are looking forward to returning to work and have specific ideas about it. This makes it clear to the employer that they do not have to worry about the specialist returning. Listing the tasks and responsibilities in full will help the team decide who is best to fill it while you are away.

The issue of re-entry also needs clarification. “Things can get awkward when it comes to part-time work when you go back to work,” Hauer says. For example, if all the specialists in a doctor’s office want to work only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., it is difficult to organize this practice. “In situations like this, we advise you not to stick too tightly to your own ideas, but ideally to examine the alternatives yourself and talk to your manager about your own ideas,” Hauer says. Perhaps one long working day per week could be offered. If both sides show understanding to each other, you can make progress together. In order to be able to make as concrete suggestions as possible in the discussion, it is a good idea to explain in advance with the family how childcare will be divided between them and how the working hours will be coordinated.

A prerequisite for good agreements is knowing your own needs. Career counselor Ragnhild Struss writes on her blog that if you worry too much about juggling a child and a job, you can work according to your own expectations. The question is not whether one can continue to evolve in the future, but how. Even in a new role, parents are a valuable resource in working life, particularly through newly acquired knowledge and skills, according to the consultant. It is important to plan enough flexibility with the employer so that return plans can also be adjusted later. Your own ideas about a career or career may change again once the child makes up for everyday life.

No matter what plans you decide in the end: if possible, you should try to stay in touch with the company during parental leave and show interest in general, for example by participating in summer or birthday parties or by meeting with colleagues in other ways .

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