Family policy: Justice departments of the federal states want to enforce family time for managers


If you are a woman on the board of a stock corporation, you have to expect legal consequences in the event of pregnancy. Even their male colleagues cannot take parental leave without risk: top managers have so far been liable to creditors and shareholders in their stock corporation. Private time off from work can become a legal dispute.
Several justice ministers from the federal states now want to end this situation – and are campaigning for the early introduction of legally regulated family time for top managers. Board members of listed companies should be able to take a break from work in the event of pregnancy or illness in order to reconcile family and work. According to a “Handelsblatt” report, this is what the heads of departments in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg, Saxony and Saarland are calling for.

Regulations for maternity leave and care

The justice ministers’ conference of the federal states will deal on Thursday with the initiative to enable the compatibility of family and career by law at the management level of corporations and cooperatives.

According to the states, the rules should not only affect public companies. “Also GmbH managing directors and board members of cooperatives should be recorded,” said Saxon Justice Minister Katja Meier (Greens) of the business newspaper. “The regulation should also not only extend to maternity leave, but also to child-rearing and nursing leave.” For Hamburg Senator for Justice Anna Gallina (Greens), the aim is also to get more women into management positions.

“Unacceptable for a family-friendly, equal society”

“Current law does not even allow women to become pregnant as a board member of a stock corporation without incurring liability risks to creditors or shareholders,” said NRW Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach (CDU) the “Handelsblatt”. Parents who take care of their offspring after the birth also have to worry about their liability if they work in a managerial position. “This legal status is unacceptable for a family-friendly, equal society and urgently needs to be reformed,” said Biesenbach. “A modern board and management law would not only be contemporary, but also a real location factor in international comparison.”

Specifically, it is about a “right to a temporary suspension of the mandate without liability risk and with the automatic resurgence of the board office,” explained the Saarland State Secretary of Justice Roland Theis (CDU). “We are not only paving the way for women and men not to have to choose between having a child and a career,” he said. “This also sets an example in companies and society and makes our country more child-friendly.”
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