Austria’s government has pledged to offer an additional two days of paid parental leave for parents who lose their jobs in the wake of the deadly migrant crisis.
The government says the scheme will help prevent more young people leaving Austria for other countries and boost Austria’s economy.
Sauerland state governor Heinz Gebhardt announced on Wednesday that Austria would offer a second 12-week paid parental leaves programme for all fathers, starting next month.
Gebhardt said the plan will not affect other workers in Austria, who already have an extra month of parental leave in their bank accounts.
“We have to give a boost to the economy and help those who are unemployed,” he told the Sauerstern newspaper.
“And we will do it on our own, as a company.”
Gebhart said he was convinced that the scheme would reduce Austria’s unemployment rate to 3.3% next year.
“I think it’s important for people to be able to take the extra day off and to take care of their children, and we are convinced that it will do so,” he said.
Säuger, the country’s largest daily newspaper, said the scheme could be introduced as early as next month, though it did not give any timeframe.
The news comes a week after Austria’s top court ruled that a federal law on parental leave could not be changed because it violated the constitution.
The court rejected a petition filed by parents who said the law violated parental rights, as well as those of their spouses.
The law was signed by President Heinz Fischer in 2014, and it was meant to protect fathers from losing their jobs when they were not working, but the government quickly repealed it.
Sociologist Christian Höhn said that while the ruling was a setback for parental leave, it was still an important victory for Austrian fathers.
“This was a huge victory for the Austrian fathers,” he wrote on Facebook.
“In other countries parental leave is not as much as in Austria.
They are still not getting paid and in a very tough economy.”
Austria has been dealing with the crisis since January when hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived in the country, many of whom were fleeing war in the Middle East and Syria.
The country has now taken in more than a million asylum seekers and many of them have found their way to the Austrian border.