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Parents not taking nursing leave

If a child is ill, parents have the right to take nursing leave. For children under 12, this is two weeks per year. However, few people claim this right for fear of losing their job.

Parents whose children are in bed with the flu must often make a choice: go to work or stay at home to look after the child. Legally speaking, the so-called "nursing leave" is clearly regulated in Austria.

You can take a week of nursing leave for close relatives who are ill and for children under 12 you can take a second week, said the employment law expert for the Austrian Chamber of Labour Jasmin Haindl.

The law was even extended on 1 January 2013. This affects patchwork families: living in a joint household is no longer a condition to take nursing leave. Similarly, the father can also claim nursing leave even if the child lives with the mother.

In a study by KIB Children Care, the Upper Austrian association for sick children, they discovered increasing problems with employers.

"The results clearly show that parents rarely take this right to nursing leave for fear of losing their job", stated Manuela Schalek from KIB Children Care.

Ms Haindl said that sometimes terminations of employment occur due to nursing leave. These are impermissible but are hard to prove as the employer often presents other grounds for the termination.

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