Maternity leave is special protection for employees who are pregnant or nursing a child. Both mothers and children are protected, before and after birth. Maternity protection includes, among other things
- the protection of health at the workplace,
- special protection against dismissal,
- a ban on employment in the weeks before and after birth, and
- securing income during the prohibition of employment.
The maternity protection period is an important component of the maternity leave. It lasts several weeks before and after the birth. You are not allowed to work during this period. The maternity protection period begins 6 weeks before the calculated date of birth and usually ends 8 weeks after birth.
If your child is born before the calculated date, the maternity protection period still lasts 14 weeks. It does not end 8 weeks after the birth, but a few days later - as many days later as your child was born before the calculated date.
It is different if your child was born so early that it is medically considered to be a premature birth (for example, if your child weighs less than 2,500 grams at birth). Then the maternity protection period does not end until 12 weeks after the birth.
The maternity protection period also ends 12 weeks after the birth,
- if you get twins, triplets or other multiples
- in the case of births of children with disabilities and you apply to your health insurance fund for an extension of the protection period.
Protection against dismissal applies from the beginning of your pregnancy until the end of your maternity protection period after the birth. You cannot be dismissed for at least four months after giving birth (with a few exceptions). The same protection against dismissal applies for up to four months in the case of a miscarriage after the twelfth week of pregnancy (periods of protection against dismissal).
You are only protected against dismissal if your employer knows that you are pregnant, have had a child or a miscarriage.
If you take parental leave after the birth of your child, the special protection against dismissal may be extended.
Maternity leave does not change your holiday entitlement. The time during which you are not allowed to work due to an employment ban is counted as if you had worked during this time. This applies for the maternity protection periods as well as for the period during which you are not allowed to work due to a ban on employment.
More information on maternity leave (in German language) can be found in the brochure "Leitfaden zum Mutterschutz" or in the family portal. Both are published by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Parental leave is a period of up to 36 months of unpaid leave from work after the birth of a child. During this period, parents do not have to work but do not receive a salary.
As an employee, you can require your employer to release you from work for up to three years. You must register parental leave with your employer up to seven weeks before the start of this period. Parental leave then begins at the earliest on the day of birth and ends on the child's third birthday. Parental leave can also be taken for individual months, weeks or days.
However, you can also take part of parental leave between the child's third and eighth birthdays. In this case, however, you are only entitled to 24 months parental leave. In this case, you must register parental leave with your employer no later than 13 weeks (seven weeks for births before 1 July 2015) before the start of the desired period.Chapter overview
- You are an employee
- You work in Germany or your employment contract is concluded according to German law
- You care for and educate a child yourself
- You live with your child in a common household
- During parental leave, you are either not employed at all or only working for a maximum of 30 hours a week.
The employer's consent to parental leave is not required if you take it before your child's third birthday. However, the employer's consent may be required for parental leave between your child's third and eighth birthdays.
You are entitled to parental leave, regardless of whether the other parent has also taken parental leave for
- biological children
- biological children of the wife or husband, partner or partner
- Foster children in full-time care
- adopted children
- grandchildren, if one of the child's parents is a minor or in education which he or she began before his or her 18th birthday
- Siblings as well as nieces and nephews (only in special cases)
You will not receive any salary during parental leave. Parents can therefore apply for parental allowance for this period as a state financial support. You will receive the basic parental allowance for up to 14 months, and ElterngeldPlus for up to 28 months. You can also work up to 30 hours a week during parental leave.
During parental leave, you enjoy special protection against dismissal. The employer can therefore only dismiss you in exceptional cases. You can also return to work after parental leave.
Find more information on the official federal family portal (website in German).