Parental Leave - Hamburg Welcome Portal
Parental leave (Elternzeit) is a period of unpaid leave from work for employed parents who take on primary care of their young child. As an employee, you're entitled to a maximum of 36 months of parental leave to be taken up to your child's eighth birthday. You may split up these 36 months into three portions, and if desired, transfer up to 24 months to the period between your child's third and eighth birthday. Parental leave can be taken by either parent individually or jointly.
Your employment contract cannot be terminated from the moment you apply for parental leave, meaning that in most cases, you'll be able to return to your job. If you wish to take parental leave before your child's third birthday, you need to submit an application to your employer at least seven weeks in advance. If you wish to take it before your child's eighth birthday, you need to apply for this 13 weeks in advance.
To compensate for your loss in income, you can apply for parental allowance (Elterngeld). You may also request your employer to allow you to work in a part-time contract (up to 30 hours per week). Up to your child's third birthday, your employer can only deny your request within four weeks in writing, citing urgent operational reasons. Up to your child's eighth birthday, your employer can only deny your request within eight weeks in writing, citing urgent operational reasons.
Find more information on the official federal family portal (website in German).