Parental Rights in the Workplace in Germany

Rights in Germany

If you’re new in Germany and have an employment contract, first of all, well done you! If you’re planning on having babies here, you might be interested in your rights as a working parent. Here are a few of the important ones:

Kündigungsschutz- Protection Against Dismissal: As soon as you break the news of your pregnancy until four months after childbirth, you cannot be dismissed either with or without notice, unless there is a special case such as if the company goes insolvent.

Mutterschutz- Maternity Leave: Mothers-to-be in employment are entitled to full-paid maternity leave starting six weeks before the expected due date and ending eight weeks after the birth of their child.

Mutterschutzgesetz- Maternity Protection Law: According to the Mutterschutzgesetz (maternity protection law), pregnant women are forbidden from:

  • handling toxic or radioactive substances or pathogens
  • regular lifting and carrying of loads that are heavier than five kilograms (in some cases ten kilograms)
  • permanent standing, as well as stretching, bending, working on ladders etc.
  • from the third month: work in transport such as buses, taxis, either as a driver or as a ticket inspector or stewardess
  • piecework or assembly line work
  • nightshift and Sunday work after 8pm

Employers must offer alternative tasks and at the same rate of pay. This so-called ‘employment ban’- Beschäftigungsverbot can also take place at an individual level, if you as a pregnant woman cannot carry out your job without risking you or your unborn baby’s health. An employment ban must be verified by a doctor. If your job does not encompass any of the above tasks, you may voluntarily work up until you have your baby. However, following the birth of the baby, you may not work at all for the full eight weeks of your Mutterschutz.

Mutterschaftsgeld- Maternity Benefit: If you have German health insurance, you are entitled to maternity benefit. This amounts to a maximum of 13 EURO per day, paid by your health insurance company and topped up by your employer to equal your net salary, which is calculated as an average of your last 3 months pay (including overtime and commission). If you are privately insured, you can apply for a lump sum of 210 EURO and your employer will pay you your net salary minus 13 EURO per working day.

Elternzeit- Parental Leave: Both mothers and fathers who are employees are entitled to a maximum of three years’ unpaid parental leave per child. Throughout the period of paternal leave, the employee may not be dismissed from their job (Kündigungsschutz) and is entitled to work part time, 30 hours per week or fewer. It’s especially important for fathers-to-be to note that you have to inform your employer in writing, 7 weeks prior that you intend on taking parental leave- no earlier, no later.

Elterngeld- Parents’ Money: This is an income replacement benefit that covers a time-period of around 12 months after the birth of your baby. It is based on your previous income and is capped at 1800 Euro maximum or 300 Euro minimum.

Kindergeld- Child Benefit: A pre-paid tax benefit that amounts to around 198 Euro/month for your child’s first 18 years of life.

Contribution by Lorna Ather, founder of Landing Pad Berlin, an organisation on a mission to help internationals feel settled and at home, and get the most out of their experience living and working in the German capital.  Lorna is the English-speaking Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner at maternita. She is also co-founder of maternita KITA.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Lorna Ather made Berlin her home over a decade ago. A project manager by trade, following the birth of her second child in 2014 she moved from managing software projects to becoming an independent Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner at maternita, supporting families with all organisational aspects of life in Berlin. Lorna is the go-to person for all questions regarding having a baby and raising a family in Berlin.

Meet Lorna at the next Landing Pad Event and get answers to your family relocation questions.