Support and Benefits
Find out what support and benefits to expect while you look after your baby...
Employment Protection (Mutterschutz)
Under the German law on employment protection (Kuendigungsschutz) an employer cannot terminate employment during the pregnancy and in the four months following the birth. It is therefore advisable to inform the employer of the pregnancy as soon as possible.
Before and after the birth there is a period of protected maternity leave (Mutterschutzfrist) plus a right to maternity payments (Mutterschutzgeld).
In addition, even if a pregnant woman does not have statutory health insurance the employer is obliged to allow time off for any prenatal appointments which occur during work time without any financial penalties. Any salary increases which become effective during the maternity leave period should be taken into account.
- The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has a detailed section in English on the protection of working mothers in their publication Social Security at a Glance.
The protected period for maternity leave is six weeks before the birth and eight weeks after (or twelve weeks after in the case of premature or multiple births). There is no option to alter this split. The period of protected employment is automatically increased if the mother takes extended maternity leave.
For the six weeks preceding the birth employed women receive statutory maternity pay (Mutterschaftsgeld). This is paid jointly by the health insurance company (Krankenkasse) with a contribution from the employer (Arbeitgeberzuschuss). Small businesses receive a full refund of their costs from the relevant health insurance company.
Privately insured and self-employed women can claim maternity leave and the employer contribution. Maternity pay in these cases is limited to a maximum sum and is paid by the Federal Office for Insurance (Bundesversicherungsamt). Pregnant women with no health insurance and working part-time must contact the Office direct.
At: Reichpietschufer 74-76, 10785 Berlin
Parental leave (Elternzeit)
In addition to the protected maternity leave a period of parental leave may be taken until the child reaches the age of three. If the employer agrees, one of these years may be "saved" and used when the child is between the ages of three and eight. Parental leave must be applied for in writing no later than 7 week before the beginning of the leave. Parental leave rights apply to all employees regardless of full- or part-time status, fixed term contracts or casual employment. No salary is paid during this period and the employer must be informed in writing seven weeks prior to the start of intended parental leave. The employer is legally obliged to keep the job open for the period of parental leave.
Parental leave can be taken by either parent and can also be shared for the period. The law on employment protection 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.
Elterngeld is an allowance paid to parents of minors to help with the costs of raising them.
Child allowance is available for up to 14 months after the birth of the child to parents who choose to not work during that time. Only one parent can receive Elterngeld at a time and the 14 months must be split between the parents; one parent can receive a minimum of 2 months and maximum of 12 months payment, but it can also be split in different amounts. The sum of money a parent is entitled to is based on their average monthly income of the year preceding the birth of the child. The maximum a parent is entitled to is 67% of their monthly income although this decreases to 66% when the average income is above €1220 and again to 65% when the average income is above €1240, Those who did not work in the year preceding the birth are entitled to the minimum sum of €300 per month.
A parent may work part-time, up to 30 hours a week, and still receive Elterngeld. As of July 2015 the ElterngeldPlus system is also available. This allows parents to combine working with Elterngeld payments by halving the amount of the monthly payment over double the amount of allowed time.
A copy of the birth c(Geburtsurkunde) must be sent to the Families Office at the Department of Employment (Familienkasse beim Arbeitsamt) to register for child benefit. Child benefit is paid until the child reaches 18 (or 21 if unemployed) or until 27 if in educational training. There is no limit for disabled children who will never be able to support themselves financially. It is paid irrespective of the parents' income.
Since 1 January 2000 any child born in Germany to non-German parents can acquire German nationality if the parents have been legally resident in the country for eight years, either through EU membership or a residency permit and if they are from an EU Member State. Children of non-German nationals may have dual nationality, but must choose between the two after their 18th birthday.
- For more information visit the local Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde.