From practising Japanese in Salzburg to working in Tokyo
At SKIDATA, we emphasize ensuring that our employees are able to combine and balance their working hours and their family time without their careers suffering.
Austria provides parental leave, and of course we also encourage fathers to take time off to look after their newborns. We provide fathers the opportunity to take a "Papa month" or paternity leave. This month makes it possible to care for their new child together with their partner in the first weeks or months of life.
Martin chose this path. As an Expert Concept Engineer, he develops and tests prototypes as part of a small team focusing on access control for persons and vehicles. The team develops future solutions, taking new ideas and concepts then testing their viability. Martin does a good job taking responsibility for his tasks, nevertheless, he took two months off for paternity leave and he was kind enough to talk about his experiences with us.
Martin, you've been on paternity leave for two months. How did you make this decision?
I wanted to spend more time with my daughter and take responsibility for her care. I noticed that when my wife took care of everything, I noticed I was a bit helpless when I was alone with my child. I wanted to get closer to my daughter and taking paternity leave was the perfect opportunity to develop a stronger bond with her.
Were you your daughter's sole caretaker during your two months of leave, or was your wife at home part-time?
My wife was at home with our daughter for the first twelve months. Then I was on paternity leave for two months after her maternity leave, amounting to a total of 14 months between us. My daughter was exactly one year old when I took my paternity leave. Since my wife is self-employed, she worked from home, but I was responsible for childcare.
It's your first child. What important experiences did you have on maternity leave?
If you are solely responsible for a child, you are not truly your own boss. That was the main difference compared to my job, I had to let go and rethink my schedule because the child decides when to eat or sleep when they need it and not necessarily when it suits me. You get fully involved with the child, that was the biggest change in the first three to four weeks.
Did you need to make any other changes while you were at home with your daughter?
Essentially, no. I became fully involved with my child, but beyond that, being at home wasn’t a big change. The standard expectation is that men also contribute to the cooking and cleaning aspects of the household, which I already did during my studies.
Did you still have time for hobbies?
Balancing work and child, my spare time was already a bit sparse. But, I could enjoy walking with a stroller, which my daughter and I both enjoyed very much.
When you decided to take paternity leave, were you supported by your employer and your team?
Yeah, absolutely, which was great. As a team, we divided up my projects. It helps that our work is not as directly dependent on the market as other teams, which is why everything could be mapped out so well. In the two months I received very few calls.
Did you miss your work and colleagues during your paternity leave?
My daughter kept me very busy, but of course, I miss my workplace a bit. I called two or three times for updates on how the projects were progressing, which leads to discussing what else is going on around a project. And I wanted to know how the others were doing.
And how was the re-entry to the workplace?
That went smoothly, I was even surprised at how well the projects had progressed in my absence. My colleagues jumped in and everyone did their part. After two weeks I was back on track and just as productive as before.
Has the parental leave also changed anything on the job?
I appreciate that I now have the reins back in my own hands on the job. But, I’ve become more relaxed about time management, simply less stressed. My daughter taught me that.
Would you recommend paternity leave to other men?
Yes, absolutely. I would recommend this experience to anyone who has the opportunity. My little one is 16 months old now and we were both nourished by the time we had together. We are so much closer now. You don't build such a close relationship if you’re only seeing each other briefly in the evening and on weekends. Which is why I’d recommend taking the opportunity.