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German fathers urged to take parental leave

Germany has a new law that allows mothers and fathers unprecedented leave during the first three years of a child's life.

The government's problem: getting the word out, especially to dads.

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So far, of the parents who have taken advantage of federally subsidized family leave, only 1 in 5 has been a man.

The program, which began Jan. 1, applies to parents who work for companies with more than 15 employees.

To attract more dads to take advantage of the leave, the Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women, and Youth is launching a major advertising campaign to promote "a new generation of active fathers."

Translation: Dads should become more involved in their children's lives.

Employers are not enthusiastic about the law, which they say is fuzzy on details and adds layers to the bureaucracy.

Still, they don't expect the ministry's campaign to win over many more fathers, according to the Confederation of German Employers' Associations.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor