Going back to “paid” work after a time-out period as a parent is a step that can bring up many questions. Some parents are keen to return to the profession they had previously. Others would like to explore something different. Many are unsure how their decisions will affect their family and their life generally.
How can you best prepare for the transition, practically, mentally, and physically? Here are some of your options:
• Peer to peer support – Seek advice from fellow parents who have been through the same process. VFN, for example, has a specific group called VFN Professionals dedicated to discussing topics such as how to answer questions about career breaks, where to find reliable childcare when kindergarten is not available, and much more.
• Find a mentor – Join a mentoring program that can support you in your back-to-work journey. Some English-speaking associations in Vienna offer this service, for example, the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Vienna offers a mentoring program open to both women and men.
• Institutional support – If your German is good enough, you can check the Parental Leave and Return to Work (Karenz und Wiedereinstieg) program run by the Vienna Employment Promotion Fund (Wiener ArbeitnehmerInnen Förderungsfonds, better known as WAFF) .
• Dedicated training – Look for workshops on topics that can help you during the process (job search, work-life balance, mindfulness, meditation, etc.). LinkedIn, for example, offers a great variety of interesting webinars. Furthermore, several associations in Vienna organize events in English focusing on personal and professional development and, when live, can be great networking opportunities.
• Free online resources – Many top universities offer free online courses that can boost your employment prospects and/or get you ready to go back to your career. Some platforms (such as Coursera.org, Edx.org) provide access to courses from several leading institutions worldwide.
Legal rights of parents returning to work
Mothers who return to work immediately after the maternity leave ends are protected against dismissal and redundancy for four months from the date of return.
Both mothers and fathers returning from parental leave, enjoy a four-week protection period from their date of return.
Each parent is entitled to reduced working time until the child reaches the age of seven if he or she has been employed by the same employer for at least 3 years and there are at least twenty employees/workers in the company. The normal weekly working time should be reduced by at least 20%, with a reduction in the length of the normal business day. The exact start, duration and amount of the reduction are agreed between the employee and the employer. Parents who do not meet the aforementioned requirements can negotiate reduced working time with their employer.