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Sozialpolitische Studienreihe

Studienreihe Bd 27 Summary

Since 2014 employees and unemployed people in Austria may take on full-time or part-time care leave when taking care of close relatives in need. The annual total of cases has increased steadily to 1,400 in 2018. More than two thirds of users are women, and the median age is 50 years. Care leave is disproportionately used in Eastern and Southern Austria and in rural areas.

Users show a clear preference of full-time over part-time care leave (92 vs. 8 percent) and mostly use the maximum duration of 3 months. Care leave is often used by unemployed people for which incentives are larger (full income replacement and no need for consent of employer).

In most cases users take on care leave when the close relative has already been in need of care for some time and the intensity of care increases. Many sources are used to get information on care leave, and alternative solutions are only partly known. Most users are on their own in taking care of their relative.

During the 12 months before care leave, around 20 percent of users are permanently employed, around 40 percent are permanently unemployed and around 30 percent become unemployed short-termly. Employment rates fall sharply just before care leave and increase gradually afterwards. 12 months after care leave, the employment rate is 22 percentage points lower than 12 months before. However, this decline is not exclusively attributable to care (leave), but also results from the special demographic makeup of users (for instance, many retirements). Among the users who continue employment after care leave, one in four reduces working hours.

Out of 10 users, 8 indicate that they accomplished their individual goals in taking care leave, and 9 would use care leave again in a comparable situation. Suggestions for improvement mostly refer to the maximum duration of 3 months, which is generally seen as restrictive. Information material — ideally hardcopy — should increasingly be made available in medical practices and at the Sozialministeriumservice. Raising awareness among employers might contribute to increasing the number of employed users.

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