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Maternity leave in Germany: What you need to know

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Are you planning a family after moving to Germany? Below is a useful overview of maternity leave in Germany and what you can expect.

In Germany women receive a lot of legal protections during pregnancy. Maternity leave in Germany makes it easier for planning a family in Germany. Find out everything you need to know below.

The cornerstones of maternity leave in Germany

The right to maternity leave in Germany is:

  • for every pregnant women who is employed (even for marginal part-time employees, for example on a € 450 basis), trainees, interns, provided the internship is not part of the course;
  • not dependant on marital status, age or nationality (§ 1 MuSchG- Mutterschaftsgesetz).

The above considerations do not apply for:

  • Housewives
  • The self-employed
  • Civil servants – special regulations apply to civil servants (depending on employment at the federal or state level)

How long is maternity leave in Germany?

Maternity leave in Germany begins 6 weeks before the birth and also ends weeks after the birth (12 weeks after the birth in the case of multiple births or premature babies).

  • In premature babies, the 12 weeks after the birth are extended by the days that could not be taken before the birth. 
  • In the case of children who were born earlier than planned (but who are medically not premature babies, for example only born one week before the planned date), the period of maternity leave is not reduced. In any case, the mother is entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave.
  • If the child is born after the calculated date, the protection period will not be shortened (Sections 3 and 6 MuSchG).

A pregnant woman is not allowed to work during the maternity leave, i.e. 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth the mother is not allowed to work. Unless the pregnant woman expressly wishes, she is allowed to work during the 6 weeks before the birth. During the 8 weeks after the birth, however, the employment ban must be observed.

Payments during maternity leave in Germany

Maternity benefits from the German health insurance company

The maximum amount of maternity allowance is 13 euros per day. The maternity allowance is paid per calendar day, so that the maximum amount is 390 euros (13 euros times 30). The employer is obliged to make up the difference between the maternity allowance and the previous net salary.

The maternity allowance of the German health insurance company is calculated from the net earnings. In general, fictitious German taxes are deducted from the calculation. For pregnant women who are legally insured, the maternity benefit amounts to a maximum of € 13 per calendar day (Section 200 (3) RVO) and is paid out by the respective health insurance company.

IMPORTANT

Women who are not covered by statutory health insurance (e.g. marginal part-time employees) also receive maternity benefit in accordance with the RVO. In these cases, however, the maternity benefit amounts to a maximum of € 210 for the entire duration of the protection period. The application must be submitted to the Federal Insurance Office in Bonn.

When does a pregnant woman in Germany have to notify the health insurance company?

The health insurance company should be informed about the pregnancy 7 weeks before the expected delivery (this is only a target requirement). 

A medical certificate must be submitted. If the health insurance company is not informed, there is of course no automatic entitlement to benefits.

Maternity subsidy from your employer 

If the net income of employees exceeds the maternity allowance (€ 13 per day), the maternity allowance is topped up by a subsidy from the employer. 

However, there is no entitlement to a subsidy if the mother is on parental leave due to the first child. The grant is not subject to income tax or social security. 

The amount of the subsidy is the difference between €13 and the average wage less the statutory deductions (net wage). The salaries of the last three calendar months are used as the basis for calculation.

Collective agreements can provide for further payments.

Special rights for women in Germany during pregnancy

  • Protective measures at the workplace with regard to the design of the workplace (Section 2 MuSchG)
  • Prohibition of certain occupations (§3 and §4 MuSchG), for example if more than five kilograms or occasionally more than ten kilograms have to be lifted; after the fifth month, if the pregnant woman has to stand constantly and works more than four hours a day; for work in which one constantly has to stoop, stretch or bend, for work in which there is a considerable risk of occupational diseases; when working with an increased risk of accidents; Piecework and other work with increased work pace
  • Prohibition of overtime, night, Sunday and holiday work (§ 8 MuSchG)
  • Granting of free time for medical examinations (Section 16 MuSchG)
  • Maternity leave
  • Maternity allowance (§13 MuSchG).

Special protection for women in Germany when breastfeeding

The employer must give the breastfeeding mother free time to breastfeed at her request. She is entitled to the time required for breastfeeding, but at least half an hour twice a day or one hour once a day. If the breastfeeding mother works more than eight hours a day, also more (Section 7 MuSchG).

Statutory insurance is entitled to:

  • medical care and midwifery assistance,
  • Preventive examinations,
  • Supply of medicines, bandages and remedies,
  • inpatient delivery,
  • domestic care,
  • Home help.

If you have privately insurance, you must inquire directly with your health insurance company.

What if the woman is ill during pregnancy?

If you are unable to work during the pregnancy protection law, the pregnant employee receives the benefits exclusively from the employer. The benefits correspond to the normal net wage.

If the employee is on sick leave during pregnancy, she is entitled to benefits under the Continued Remuneration Act: The employer pays for the first 6 weeks of illness, and then the health insurance company. At the start of the protection period, the pregnant woman is entitled to maternity benefit and possibly a subsidy from the employer.

Are students in Germany entitled to maternity benefits during pregnancy?

Even if the student has student health insurance without entitlement to sickness benefit, you will receive maternity benefit. 

If you had a € 400 job as a student, the same requirements apply as for marginal part-time employees.

What about an unemployed pregnant woman in Germany?

If the pregnant woman is unemployed at the beginning of your maternity leave and receive unemployment benefit, they will receive maternity benefit in the amount of the unemployment benefit. 

However, this is paid for by the health insurance company. The employment office is no longer responsible for you.

When is a pregnant woman in Germany NOT entitled to maternity leave benefits?

  • if they are self-employed and have private health insurance (alternatively, you may be entitled to daily sickness allowance)
  • if they are legally insured independently and voluntarily, but they are not entitled to sick pay, i.e. if they pay the reduced contribution rate
  • if they do not receive any wages (e.g. as a housewife)
  • if they continue to work in spite of the maternity leave period
  • if they have family insurance through your husband and do not work

What happens if the due date is postponed?

The right to maternity benefit in Germany remains in effect even if the baby does not keep to the calculated date.

In the case of a premature birth; the days not used before delivery are added to the time after the birth.

If, from a medical point of view, the baby is premature, maternity leave is provided for twelve weeks after the birth. The latter also occurs with multiple pregnancies. If your child takes its time, it will still stay with the eight weeks of protection after the birth.

What if maternity leave falls on parental leave?

If you are pregnant with your second child and the parental leave of your first is covered by maternity leave, the following regulation applies:

As a member of the statutory health insurance, you are again entitled to a salary replacement benefit of a maximum of 13 euros per day. However, the employer is not obliged to make any allowances during parental leave.

Tip: In order to receive the employer’s allowance, if you become pregnant again you can either end your parental leave prematurely or interrupt it and add to the new parental leave in order to avoid overlapping with your maternity leave. Obtain written consent from your employer for this. If this is approved, he is also obliged to pay a grant. This gives you the chance to earn your full net salary again (calculation based on the last three months before the start of the first maternity leave and the current income tax bracket)

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