In this episode of our Wolf Theiss Arbeitsrecht podcast, our experts Isabel Firneis and Julia Marboe discuss the implementation of the EU Work-Life-Balance Directive into Austrian law. This episode deals primarily with legal changes concerning parental leave, parental part-time leave and care leave. Most of these legal changes will become effective as of 1 November 2023. Please note that several other changes within the context of the implementation of the directive will be covered in a separate episode.
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The Work-life Balance Directive (WBLD) aims to improve families’ access to family leave and flexible work arrangements. The implementation of the WBLD into Austrian law will lead to several changes that concern employers and employees alike. In this episode, the following changes are discussed:
Until now, parents in Austria were able to take parental leave until their child’s second birthday, meaning for a maximum of 24 months. The WBLD however foresees that at least two months of parental leave are non-transferable between parents. Therefore, the following change to the law will occur:
In the future, a parental leave period of 24 months will only be possible if the parental leave is split between the parents and one of the parents takes a minimum of 2 months of parental leave. There are exceptions for single parents or for couples where one parent is not entitled to go on parental leave. This new regulation will apply to births from 1.11.2023.
Parental Part-time Work
Further, the WBLD foresees that Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that employees with children up to a specified age (at least eight years old), and carers, have the right to request flexible working arrangements for caring purposes. The duration of such flexible working arrangements may be subject to a reasonable limitation. In Austria, we consider parental part time as such a flexible working arrangement. In order to implement the WBLD, the rules on parental part-time were changed. For employees with an entitlement to parental leave, the changes are however marginal. In this case, parental part-time is, generally speaking, possible until the child`s 8th birthday (compared to their 7th birthday as was the case before).
Furthermore, existing caregiver leave will be extended. On the one hand, caregiver leave can be claimed for close relatives who do not live in the same household. On the other hand, employees will also be entitled to a caregiver leave if they must look after someone living in the same household who is not a relative.
In addition to the above, the implementation of the WBLD will lead to a need for employers to justify several decisions in writing. Moreover, the grounds to challenge a termination in court based on a bad motive are extended. It will be possible to challenge a termination if the decisive motive for said termination was a parent exercising one of the several aforementioned parental rights (e.g. being terminated due to taking caregiver leave can be considered a bad motive for the termination).