Parental leave for fathers

I'm out of here then. How do I tell my boss?

Planning parental leave - here's how to do it.

Fathers taking parental leave is nothing out of the ordinary these days. However, this may not be met with undivided enthusiasm by all superiors. However, with good preparation and a little skill, this hurdle can be overcome. "As a rule, two months of parental leave is waved through in many companies," says Hans-Georg Nelles, who is responsible for numerous projects in the field of "reconciling work and family life". The expert gives fathers practical tips.

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Parental leave equals career stop?

The fear of many men that parental leave will damage their own career is still justified. It may very well be the case that parental leave delays a father's career.

However, if you want to enjoy your time with your child without any worries or regrets, you should talk to your boss at an early stage. After all, most of the boss's fears can be dispelled in advance with appropriate planning. Hans-Georg Nelles advises fathers-to-be who want to take parental leave to bear a few points in mind to avoid any trouble.

  • Prepare a meeting with superiors
    If you approach your boss with a strong will, you will be able to appear confident and convincing in the interview. "The boss's comments are often aimed at finding out how serious the employee actually is about their parental leave," explains Hans-Georg Nelles. "Sometimes games are played. But if someone makes it clear that they are serious, the boss and employee often come to a mutually acceptable conclusion in the end." That's why you should talk to your line manager as early as possible.

    In legal terms, however, Nelles points out that this tip is problematic, as an expectant father is only protected against dismissal eight weeks before taking parental leave, but must announce his decision at least seven weeks before the start of the leave.

    This means you are only legally protected for one week. "That's very unfortunate," says the organizational consultant. That's why he advises asking around the company beforehand to find out which fathers have had which experiences in the past and what the boss thinks about parental leave.
  • Offer the superior something
    After all, your line manager is primarily concerned with keeping the company running. So if you give your boss the feeling that you are not simply disappearing, but are acting responsibly, you have already gained a lot. In concrete terms, this means that as an expectant father you should make suggestions as to how the work you are doing can be continued, especially in the areas of your own core competence. And: If you are planning a longer parental leave, you can continue to take on a proportion of the hours with the help of ElterngeldPlus.

    "Taking these worries away from your boss is important - for you too," explains Hans-Georg Nelles, "because then you don't lose touch and stay on the ball."
  • And if there is trouble?
    If the boss still makes trouble, you should give them time to adjust to the new situation, advises Nelles. Of course, this is only possible if you have sought a conversation early on. Only then can you say: "Okay, we'll talk about it again later" as soon as the dust has settled. And if nothing helps? Then you should simply ignore the stupid comments and try to concentrate on the upcoming parental leave adventure, advises the expert.
  • Talk to your partner
    The basic prerequisite and first step is to discuss the distribution of tasks with your partner. A day with a toddler has many facets and does not follow a fixed structure. As a father-to-be, you should have the confidence to improvise a little if you want to juggle diapers, baby food and onesies. If this is the case, talk to your partner as early as possible and clarify: "How do we envisage our division of tasks?"

    Your partner may have reservations about the idea of you staying at home with the children for longer. "I experience this time and again," says Hans-Georg Nelles, "that fathers tell me they didn't dare to oppose it and then just settled for two months' parental leave and the breadwinner role.

    This makes it all the more important to clarify the division of roles and expectations with each other. In such a discussion, you as the expectant mother and father can negotiate your ideas with each other and also clarify the financial responsibilities.

About the person

Hans-Georg Nelles is a social scientist, adult educator and organizational consultant. He has been carrying out projects on work-life balance for more than 25 years - especially with fathers. His main areas of focus: the organization of parental leave, family-friendly working hours and a family-friendly corporate culture. Hans-Georg Nelles is the father of three grown-up children and grandfather of four grandchildren. He has been Chairman of the LAG Väterarbeit NRW since 2016.

In this video, Hans-Georg Nelles introduces himself.

Where can I find help and advice?

Hans-Georg Nelles is the head of the Fachstelle Väterarbeit in NRW, based in Düsseldorf. If you have any questions, please send an email to nelles@lag-vaeterarbeit.nrw

The LAG Väterarbeit in NRW provides news and offers for fathers. Weekly updates can be found on the LAG Väterarbeit Instagram channel.

Hans-Georg Nelles runs a fathers' blog with information on working with fathers and being a father.


Personal stories and experiences from fathers in NRW can be found on our YouTube channel in the "Active Fatherhood" playlist.