Parental Leave (Elternzeit)

Find out about the law regarding leave entitlements for parents in Germany...

German law allows parents to take a period of parental leave (Elternzeit). This may be taken until the child reaches the age of three. No salary is paid during this period, but the employer is legally obliged to keep the parent's job open for the period of parental leave. With the agreement of the employer, one year of parental leave may be "saved" and used when the child is between the ages of three and eight.

Parental leave rights apply to all employees regardless of whether they are in full- or part-time employment, on fixed term contracts or casual employment. Tell the employer in writing six weeks before the start of intended parental leave.

Parental leave can be taken by either parent, assuming both are in employment and may also be shared for the period.

The law on employment protection (Kuendigungsschutz) also applies for the duration of parental leave. It is also possible for parents to work part-time for up to 30 hours a week without affecting the terms of parental leave or employment protection rights. These rights apply to natural, foster and adoptive parents.

  • For more information on parental leave: Click here (in German)
  • A brochure containing up to date information on Elterngeld and Elternzeit can be ordered or a PDF downloaded from this link: Click here (in German)