According to Schröder's plan, people with full-time jobs would have a right to work part-time to care for sick or disabled relatives, receiving 75 percent of their normal salary. After returning to full-time work, however, they would continue to receive 75 percent of their salary until they repaid their time off.
But critics said the idea does not provide enough financial security for workers, while employers said companies would struggle to bear the financial burden.
Social welfare association VdK said the programme doesn't go far enough.
“The financial security of the caregivers isn't guaranteed when they have to give up 25 percent of their salary,” association president Ulrike Mascher told daily Rheinische Post on Thursday, adding that those taking care of relatives are often women with low-paying jobs.
Social Democratic health expert Karl Lauterbach called the plan a “snare for every working woman,” explaining that two years of part-time work would endanger their careers.
“I see the risk that many will just quit in the end,” he told daily Hamburger Abendblatt, adding that the plan was “typical” for Schröder's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), who he claimed had an antiquated view of the family.
“It's like many suggestions by the CDU: In the end the woman should be chained to the stove,” he added.
The environmentalist Green party also said Schröder's plan reflected an old-fashioned society.
“Ms Schröder wants to pass off caregiving to the cheapest service, namely that of the female relatives when in doubt,” Greens parliamentary leader Renate Künast told daily Ruhr Nachrichten. “What the people need is a three-month leave with salary compensation to organise the care of a relative, and qualitative, top-quality care support provided by all necessary services.”
Meanwhile business advocates said they feared further stresses on company finances following the global economic crisis.
Head of the BDA employers association told daily Berliner Zeitung: “There is a risk for businesses when workers leave before they have made up for the missing work from the caregiving period.”