Fever and sore throat: where to go with the sick child?
The child suddenly becomes ill, the work is waiting: Caring for acutely ill children is often a challenge for working parents. Those who cannot stay at home are often dependent on outside help.
"Polizai" Nils wrote on a piece of paper and hung on the door of his room. Inside, however, he does not play the police, but continues to build on his Playmobil plane. Nils has been sick for a few days, a cold with a cough, and the woman who is building the colorful carpet on the plane with him is not his mother, but the mobile supervisor Ivana Pickl, who looks after the five-year-old during the day. as long as his mother is at work.
Pickl is one of eleven carers who work for the social service company Sozial Global in Vienna and who steps in at short notice when a sick child needs care and the parents cannot stay at home with him. Nils’ mother, Cornelia Nalepka, has been using Social Global’s childcare home offer for three years, "because children usually get sick unannounced," she says.
The single parent, who works as a management assistant at a research institute, is entitled to nursing leave like all employees. However, she says, "there are days when you just can’t stay away from work." Her parents do not live in Vienna, which is why when their son gets sick, they often rely on outside help – which after three years is no longer so strange is – is instructed.
Parents are in Nalepka’s situation, no matter whether they are single parents or not, the child goes to sleep apparently healthy in the evening and wakes up sick in the morning, one urgently needs to open his business to work, to the university, but the child has a fever and can’t possibly go to school or kindergarten.
It is morning, you have little time to decide and organize: who stays at the child’s home? Who is most likely to postpone appointments? Can the grandmother come, if she lives nearby, which is often not the case? Or does the babysitter have time and if so, how long? The organization, which always runs spontaneously and under time pressure, often becomes a gauntlet run for parents. Inform the company, delegate tasks, phone calls, e-mails, and brew tea in between for the child who wants a story read out. Because of course you want to be there for your child, especially now that it is not healthy.
The bad conscience. No matter how you decide, your guilty conscience can often not be shaken off completely. If you go to work, the question of whether the child is well at home accompanies you through the working day. If you stay at home to take care of your daughter or son, you often reproach yourself as well: I am a bad because an unreliable employee who loses her job, cancels appointments and skips presentations?
Many parents may share concerns like this, but from a legal point of view the situation is clear: Everyone and every employee has the right to nursing leave, which is popularly called nursing leave, but actually has nothing to do with the vacation entitlement and is therefore not deducted from the vacation days , (Self-employed or students with children have an even more difficult time because they cannot access the care leave paid for employees.)
Employees are entitled to a week of nursing leave to look after sick relatives, including parents or the partner’s child from a previous relationship. Provided that it is crucial to live in a household with the sick relative. A working grandmother can therefore not take care leave if her grandson is sick unless they live in the same household, which is rarely the case.
If you have a child (or several) under the age of twelve, you are also entitled to another week of care leave: two weeks maximum, regardless of how many children you have. These two weeks, however, says Irene Holzbauer, labor law expert at the Vienna Chamber of Labor, should not be consumed consecutively, even if it happens not infrequently that a child falls ill first and then the sibling becomes infected, which means that one would have to be at home longer. The legal regulation is still fair. "The background to the law is that the employee can react to surprising situations, but must manage to take care of the child differently in a week."
Frauensache. Since 2013, parents who are no longer living with the child in the same household after a separation or divorce have also been entitled to leave of absence. An amendment to the law, for which the Chamber of Labor has campaigned and with which it is still satisfied, since it equates men and women even after separations – or is equally responsible for the division of nursing leave.
At least in theory. In practice, according to labor law expert Holzbauer, it is still the case that “looking after sick children is still a woman’s job, whereas men rarely take advantage of it.” And if they do, men are sometimes lopsided or commentary à la "Can’t your wife do that?" (Which, in turn, says Holzbauer, is a clear case of discrimination based on marital status.)
It is important to report the start of the nursing leave to the employer immediately. Whether the verbal information that the child is sick is sufficient or you have to provide a medical confirmation is not legally regulated, but left to every entrepreneur. If the doctor requests a fee for the confirmation, the employer must pay it.
Even if you take advantage of the nursing leave – with both parents a maximum of four weeks – it can happen that it is not enough. In this case you have the right to take vacation immediately (provided you still have vacation days open). Or you try – and respect everyone who succeeds alongside sick children – to work from home (if the company allows it). Or use a mobile supervisor such as from Social Global (only women are employed in childcare here).
But can one expect this from his sick child at all, a strange woman who suddenly stands there and deals with him? These concerns, says Katrin Riedl, who heads childcare at home, “have existed since the beginning in 1985. In practice, however, these concerns have never been confirmed. ”Firstly, because the employees – who are teachers or kindergarten assistants or have similar qualifications – are specially trained and experienced. "A colleague, for example, has a hand puppet with her, which works particularly well with younger children." On the other hand, because, as Doris Semotan, board member at Sozial Global suspects, "the parents, whose children would not accept a third-party caregiver, probably not at all call us. Parents can assess their children well there. ”Of course, says Semotan,“ it is always a sensitive story to entrust a sick child to a stranger. But the families who know us book us again and again. "And: If a child is seriously ill," we are not booked. The parents call us when the children are on the mend but can’t go to kindergarten yet. ”
Socially staggered. On the first phone call, a certain concern of the parents is often noticeable, in practice there are no problems. “Every colleague still found good access to the children.” If you call early in the morning, the supervisor will come the same day if necessary. The tariffs for childcare at home – which is funded by the Vienna Social Fund – are graded according to household income: if this is more than 3,000 euros net, you pay 21.50 euros per hour. Most families only pay 2.50 to 5.50 euros per hour, many of them single parents.
The supervisors come for a minimum of five and a maximum of nine hours per day. Depending on the degree of illness, they play, tinker, read aloud, but also cook for the child. If you book regularly, an already familiar supervisor will be sent. The same three women always come to Nils. "We have only had good experiences," says his mother. "You are very responsive to him."
At a glance
Care at home
Socially global offers childcare at home in Vienna – even at very short notice. If you call between 6.30 a.m. and 8 a.m., you can book a supervisor for the same day. Minimum duration: five hours. Bookings can only be made by phone at 01/58 9 58/2210. www.sozial-global.at
The association Kib mediates u. a. "Emergency mums" in several federal states who come home to the sick child. Info: www.kib.or.at
Moki (mobile child care) in turn, supports parents in several federal states in the care of chronically or seriously ill children in their own home, but also in newborns or babies born prematurely. www.moki.at
388 families last year supported Sozial Global in caring for sick children in their home.
18 months the children must be at least old and a maximum of 12 years old. Sick children are only looked after when both parents are not at home – and a maximum of nine hours a day.
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