Förderprogramm "Integration durch Qualifizierung IQ"

FAQ – Maternity protection & parental leave

What is maternity protection?

There are rules in the Maternity Protection Act. These rules aim to protect the health of pregnant and nursing employees and prevent them from being dismissed due to pregnancy.

If you are pregnant, these rules apply to you:

  • You may only work limited hours (from 6 am to 8 pm, your working hours may only deviate from this in exceptional cases).
  • You must not work more than 8.5 hours a day (at weekends only with your consent).
  • You must not do any work that could put your pregnancy at risk.
  • You are also allowed to go to medical check-ups during working hours.
  • You must be given time off for this and no money may be deducted.
  • Work ban: employers must protect the health of the pregnant/nursing person. He/she must improve the working conditions if they are a risk to health. If this is not possible, the person must be given another job in the company that does not put their health at risk. If this is not possible either, the employer may no longer engage the person.
Protection period for pregnant women

A protection period applies to you as a pregnant woman. As soon as employers know about your pregnancy, they must implement the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act. In addition, you may only be dismissed in a few exceptional cases. This is only possible, for example, if you commit a criminal offence while pregnant. You no longer have to work 6 weeks before your expected due date. No-one can insist that you continue working during this time. You are not allowed to work for at least 8 weeks after giving birth. This period can be extended to 12 weeks if you had a premature birth or multiple birth (twins, triplets) or if your baby has a disability.

There are exceptions to the protection period:

  • Abortion
  • Miscarriage
  • Stillbirth
When does maternity protection apply for you? What does this mean?

The Maternity Protection Act also applies to people with a residence permit, a temporary residence permit or a tolerated stay permit. It doesn't matter whether you live as a woman or not, maternity protection applies to all pregnant employees.

The Act applies to all forms of employment relationships:

  • Full time
  • Part time
  • Mini job
  • Internship
  • Vocational training
  • Temporary work

If the employment relationship has a fixed term, maternity protection only applies for as long as the employment relationship exists. A fixed-term employment contract will not be extended due to pregnancy. You may not be deported during the maternity protection period, regardless of whether you are working or not. If your employer does not comply with the Maternity Protection Act, you should seek advice!

Who does the Maternity Protection Act not apply to?
  • The self-employed
  • Women not in employment


Protection against dismissal applies during pregnancy:
  • During the entire pregnancy as from the signing of the employment contract
  • In the first 4 months after birth
  • In the first 4 months after a miscarriage (if this occurs after the 12th week)

Protection against dismissal applies if your employer is aware of your pregnancy at the time of dismissal. If he/she does not know about it and dismisses you, you have 2 weeks after receiving the dismissal to inform him/her about the pregnancy.

Dismissal during pregnancy or while nursing is only possible in absolutely exceptional cases. This may be the case, for example, if the pregnant person commits criminal offences at work. Or if your employer didn't know you were pregnant.

What is Mutterschaftsgeld (maternity benefits) and how do you get it?

During your maternity protection period, you can apply for maternity benefits from your health insurance company. This is possible at the earliest 7 weeks before the expected due date. You will need a medical certificate for this. Maternity benefits are only paid to people who had statutory health insurance on the first day of the maternity protection period and were entitled to sick pay. While you are on maternity leave, the health insurance company will pay your maternity benefits. That is a maximum of 13 Euros per day.

If you have a mini job and are covered by family insurance, you must apply for maternity benefits at the maternity benefits office. It then amounts to a maximum of 210 Euros per month. If you are entitled to maternity benefits, you will also receive money from your employer. Together with the maternity benefits, this contribution from the employer is intended to compensate for the loss of the normal salary.

Not everyone receives the contribution from the employer, even if they stay at home during the maternity protection period and therefore do not receive a salary. Some people only get maternity benefits. The following do not receive the contribution from the employer:

  • Students
  • People with a mini job
  • Retired people

Sometimes a pregnant person is no longer allowed to work for medical reasons even before the start of the protection period. In these cases, the employer pays a maternity protection wage. The maternity protection wage corresponds to the average salary (before tax/gross) of the last 3 months before you became pregnant. There are no additional costs for employers. The health insurance company gives employers the money for the maternity protection wage.

Do you have to tell your boss that you're pregnant?

When applying for a job during pregnancy, you do not have to say that you are pregnant. If you are asked directly, you can lie. Once your job has started and you are stable (from the 12th week), you should tell your employer that you are pregnant. Your employer can request medical proof of the pregnancy.

As soon as your employer knows about the pregnancy, he/she must ensure that the pregnant person's health is protected as well as possible. The health insurance company can tell you which medical check-ups are necessary. People are particularly well protected against dismissal during the maternity protection period. The special protection against dismissal begins at the time of pregnancy and ends 4 months after the birth.

If you are dismissed and your employer does not know about your pregnancy, you must inform him/her of the pregnancy within 2 weeks.

What is parental leave?

If you have small children, you can work fewer hours or take a break from work for a few months or years. You can apply for parental leave for this. Fathers can also apply for parental leave!

It is important that the person looks after the child themselves or lives with a child in the same household.

When you apply for parental leave, you must inform your employer that you either do not want to work at all or you want to work for a maximum of 30 hours per week during the planned parental leave. Parental leave can last a maximum of 3 years.

Parental leave must always be applied for with the employer. Certain deadlines apply:

  • Parental leave before the child's 3rd birthday: Parental leave must be registered at least 7 weeks in advance (start of parental leave).
  • Parental leave in the period between the child's 3rd and 8th birthday: parental leave must be registered at least 13 weeks in advance (start of parental leave).  
Does your employer have to agree?

 No: if you take parental leave before the child's 3rd birthday, the employer's consent is not necessary.

Yes: if you take parental leave between the child's 3rd and 8th birthday, the employer needs to provide his/her consent.

Anyone who has a job at the start of parental leave can apply for parental leave. This includes:

  • People with a mini job
  • Part-time employees
  • Students with a part-time job
  • Trainees
Applying for parental benefits

The employer does not pay a salary during parental leave. This is why parents can apply for parental benefits. It should make up for the missing money.

There are certain rules for applying for parental benefits:

  • You have to live in Germany.
  • You live with the child.
  • You look after the child yourself. It can also be your partner's child or an adopted child.
  • You don’t work, or you work a maximum of 30 hours per week.

You have to fill out a form for the application. You then send the form and the original certificates to the parental benefits office by post or deliver them in person. The parental benefits office can also help you fill out the application.

There are three different types of parental benefits:

  • Elterngeld (simple parental benefits)
  • Elterngeld Plus (parental benefits plus)
  • and the Partnerschaftsbonus (partner bonus). 

Elterngeld Plus is half as much money as Elterngeld. But you can get Elterngeld Plus for twice as long. Your partner can receive an additional 2 months of Elterngeld or 4 months of Elterngeld Plus.

Please note: in some federal states, you can also apply for parental benefits digitally.


Parental benefits without parental leave

You don't necessarily have to take parental leave to receive parental benefits. You are just not allowed to work more than 30 hours a week if you receive parental benefits. You can calculate online how much you can get in parental benefits. There is a special calculator for this (Elterngeldrechner).

Please note: special rules apply for parents who don’t have a German passport.

Whether you receive parental benefits depends on your nationality and residence status.

People with the following residence status can apply for parental benefits:

  • Niederlassungs-Erlaubnis (settlement permit), Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt EU (permanent EU residence permit)
  • EU Blue Card, ICT Card, a Mobile ICT Card or a residence permit that authorises the holder to pursue gainful employment for a period of at least 6 months

There are additional restrictions. It is best to seek advice from your local parental benefits office.

People with the following residence status can not apply for parental benefits:

  • Aufenthaltsgestattung (temporary residence permit)
  • Duldung (tolerated stay permit)
  • Vocational training or further education in Germany

Please note: if the requirements are met, you are entitled to parental benefits. You do not have to be afraid of any negative consequences for your residence status.

You can also apply for parental leave and parental benefits for:

  • Adopted children
  • Foster children
  • Stepchildren (here you must be married to one of the child's biological parents)
How much money do you get in parental benefits?

How much money you get in parental benefits depends on how much money you earned before the birth. Basic parental benefits are normally 65% of your salary (after tax, so "net"). Parental benefits if you are unemployed:

You can also receive the minimum amount of 300 Euros Elterngeld or 150 Euros Elterngeld Plus if you previously had no income (were unemployed).

Special regulation for parents with little money

If you earned between 1,200 and 1,240 Euros net per month before the birth of your child, you will receive slightly more in parental benefits. Instead of 65%, you can receive up to 67%.