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SPD proposes 30-hour workweek for parents
Photo: DPA

SPD proposes 30-hour workweek for parents

Published: 28 Dec 2012 10:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Dec 2012 10:06 GMT+01:00

Germany's biggest opposition party, the SPD, wants the state to subsidize a 30-hour workweek for young parents to promote a better job-family balance. But the proposal has been met with resistance from within the governing coalition.

"On the one hand, there are many women who are forced to let go of their careers more than they would like to," Andrea Nahles, general secretary for the centre-left SPD, said on Thursday.

"And on the other hand, we have fathers who would like to spend more time with their children."

Faced with a falling birthrate, German politicians have been under increasing pressure to come up with policy solutions. A study released last Monday showed that the country is becoming a less attractive place to have children, due to difficulties reconciling family and work.

Germany, whose birthrate currently stands at just 1.39 children per woman, has one of the highest number of childless women worldwide.

The SPD's candidate for chancellor, Peer Steinbrück, is said to back the proposal to cut working time for parents. Nahles said the government could cover some of the costs for a period of two to three years.

"We want to even out the 'rush hour' of life between the ages of 25 and 40," she said. "It might also help women avoid the career setback that comes with being out of the working world too long."

But the proposal has come under fire from the pro-business Free Democrats, who are in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives at the federal level.

Nahles's counterpart in the FDP, General Secretary Patrick Döring, told Berlin's Tagesspiegel daily that the SPD had lost touch with reality in its drive to win over voters.

"A 30-hour workweek for a large part of the population is something that Germany cannot and does not want to pay for," he said.

DPA/The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:44 December 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Business before family. Don't forget that the 40 hour work week is in reality more like a 45 hour work week taking into consideration the fact most employers have a culture of employees feeling uncomfortable going home on time.
12:00 December 28, 2012 by grinners
Yeah sometimes I really miss my MTB. I would love to spend more time with it, but my employer tells me a 30 week is inappropriate :-(

On another note: shortening the working week for parents would also result in increased cost from overtime. Something inefficient workers (like by us) exploit.

(I love commenting on websites during work times)
13:02 December 28, 2012 by Simon_Kellett
I went to a 30 hour week (as the "breadwinner") when our second child was born: best thing I ever did :-)
13:07 December 28, 2012 by rosenthalenglish
Would be far better to introduce a minimum wage across the whole of Germany which was also paying enough that a family can live on.Time that the top bosses started treating their workers as assets not just pawns to make them richer and richer.
13:21 December 28, 2012 by Wrench
Maybe we would have more children if we were not taxed to death paying for idiot programs like this.
17:51 December 28, 2012 by pjnt
I think the school system is very much at the heart of the problem here. Kids can finish classes from 10:30 - 14:30 on any given day. OGS will offer places until 16:00 for a price. There are no serious employers out there that will take on that schedule when others will work full hours. So you can get a nanny to take the kids after 16:00. Now all you income goes to paying for sitters, might as well stay home.

Broken system.
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