WALLDORF (dpa-AFX) - Software company SAP has gone on the offensive when it comes to balancing family and career. The Walldorf, Germany-based DAX-listed company on Thursday told its workforce in Germany that starting next year it would give fathers and other partners six weeks paid time off after the birth of their child. "We want to use this to show that family compatibility and career-making are not contradictions," said SAP's head of human resources in Germany, Cawa Younosi. He said he expects 700 to 800 fathers per year to take up the offer if more than 90 percent of those eligible do so. This is expected to cost several million euros a year.

In the coalition agreement, the governing parties SPD, Greens and FDP had announced that they would introduce a two-week paid leave of absence for the partner after the birth of a child. Different terms have been coined for the program, sometimes referring to paternity leave, sometimes to paternity leave - since it would mostly benefit fathers. SAP calls its program "partner time.

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) spoke about the plan on Tuesday, calling it "family start time." The idea, she said, is to give the partner or - in the case of lesbian couples - the female partner time to care for the mother and help her regenerate. The bill is currently being discussed within the federal government, he said. In November of the past year Paus had still announced an implementation for the year 2024. When asked, the ministry would not officially comment on a specific date.

The fact that SAP seems to be a pioneer with the program is shown by inquiries to several DAX companies. Most of them highlight existing offerings in their responses and emphasize their intention to comply with new legislation. However, none of the companies asked went as far as SAP. There was also some criticism of the coalition's plan.

Siemens, for example, welcomed the approach of a paternity leave with regard to an equal distribution of family care work between the sexes. "Siemens believes, however, that - as with parental allowance

- should be financed from tax revenues and not imposed on employers.

employers," the Munich-based company said.

"We do not consider additional paternity leave necessary against the background of our existing offers and the flexibility they allow," the automotive supplier and tire manufacturer Continental announced.

"The existing parental leave model is a success," informed Thomas Ogilvie, DHL Group's Chief Human Resources Officer. He added that the existing options are well established and are gladly taken up by fathers and mothers alike. From the company's point of view, these do not need to be changed. Currently, there is one day of special leave for childbirth and parental leave, but no other time off.

Sports car maker Porsche welcomed the German government's plans. "Paid time off at the beginning of paternity contributes to a better balance between family and career," a spokeswoman said. At the same time, Porsche said it regretted that the federal cabinet had halved the income limit per family for entitlement to parental benefits.

Consumer goods group Beiersdorf thinks the plan is a good one. Deutsche Telekom is also in favor of measures that support a good balance between job and family, a spokesperson said. The pharmaceutical and technology group Merck is open to the issue. Since the company is already very well positioned with its offering, it is not currently planning any expansions.

According to a recent survey, many companies in Germany do not offer special leave for fathers after the birth of a child. This is the case in 44 percent of the companies surveyed, according to a poll conducted by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research on behalf of the Family Ministry, which was made available to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. According to the survey, 26 percent of the companies surveyed grant one day of leave, while another 26 percent grant two days. Only four percent allow more than two days.

The fact that almost half of the companies do not even consider the offspring of their employees worth a single day of special leave speaks volumes about their perception of the compatibility of work and family, said Elke Hannack, Deputy Chairwoman of the German Trade Union Confederation. She said it is good and right that the family start time is now finally to come. "We are counting on the coalition to get it into law quickly." That would be an important signal to strengthen the partnership-based compatibility of family and career from the beginning.

The Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) said it welcomed the fact that many partners want to take on more responsibility when their children are born. However, no new legal entitlements are needed for this. Parental leave and parental allowance have long given families the opportunity to take a break from work after the birth. "Politicians have to decide whether they want to implement new leave entitlements - or whether they want to alleviate the labor shortage," the BDA said. Both together do not go. A one-sided financial burden on companies would also be unacceptable./rwi/DP/zb