Here you can find the most important labour law regulations on parental leave. In the case of questions about childcare allowance, please contact the Federal Ministry within the Federal Chancellery of Women, Families and Youth.
Mothers and fathers in employment relationships are legally entitled to parental leave from their employer. It is therefore not possible for parental leave to be refused.
Parental leave – being relieved from having to work in exchange for foregoing pay – may be taken for at least two months and at the most until the child’s second birthday, if the child lives in the same household.
The Start of Parental Leave
For the parent who takes it first, parental leave usually begins eight weeks or twelve weeks after birth (= end of the maternity protection period). For the mother, leave can also begin following a holiday or sick leave.
If the parent who initially looks after the child is not entitled to parental leave, the other parent can also take their parental leave later on.
Sharing Parental Leave
Parental leave can be shared twice between the parents; i.e. a total of three periods of leave are permissible (e.g. mother/father/mother). Each period has to last for at least two months.
Simultaneous Parental Leave
During the first changeover of parental leave, the parents can take parental leave simultaneously for a month, whereby this shortens the maximum total duration of parental leave by a month. Otherwise, simultaneous parental leave is not permitted. During simultaneous parental leave, only one parent can draw childcare allowance.
Notifying the Employer of Parental Leave
Maternity protection after birth lasts for eight weeks. When the normal eight-week protective period before birth has been shorter than eight weeks, it is extended after birth (up to a maximum of 16 weeks). In the case of premature births, caesarean section or multiple births, the protection period after birth lasts for at least twelve weeks.
If the mother is planning to take leave immediately following the maternity protection period, she has to notify her employer while the maternity protection period is still ongoing. Fathers have to notify their employer of their planned leave eight weeks after the birth at the latest.
If the parent who initially looks after the child is not entitled to parental leave, the other parent has to inform their employer about the start and duration of leave three months before they begin leave at the latest.
If parental leave is shared, the parent who will take the next period of parental leave has to inform their employer three months at the latest before the end of the current parental leave period.
If the period of parental leave immediately following the maternity protection period is intended to be shorter than three months, the employer must be informed about the subsequent parental leave period before maternity protection ends.
Extension of Leave
Three months at the latest before the end of notified parental leave, the mother or father can inform their employer that they are going to extend parental leave. The desired period of extension (up to the second birthday of the child at most) has to be indicated.
If the duration of parental leave is less than three months, its extension has to be announced two months before it ends at the latest.
Both parents have the opportunity to postpone three months of their parental leave. This postponed parental leave has to be used before the child’s seventh birthday or school enrolment at a later date. This does not extend the total duration of parental leave to which one is entitled.
Employment During Leave
Mothers and fathers may enter a minor employment relationship (geringfügige Beschäftigung) during parental leave – either in the company from which they are taking leave or with another employer. The pay for this employment may not exceed the minor employment threshold. In addition, it is possible to arrange employment with the company from which they are taking leave which pays more than the minor employment threshold, but only lasts for a maximum of 13 weeks per calendar year (such as standing in for other employees who are on paid leave or sick leave).
With the agreement of the employer from whom they have taken leave, it is also possible to take on employment with another employer that pays above the marginal earnings threshold and lasts for a maximum of 13 weeks per calendar year.
Protection Against Redundancy and Dismissal During Parental Leave
If a mother takes parental leave immediately after the maternity protection period, protection against redundancy and dismissal continues. If a father takes parental leave immediately after the maternity protection period for the mother, protection against redundancy and dismissal begins when they notify the employer, but not before the birth of the child.
In all other cases, protection against redundancy and dismissal begins with the announcement of the wish to take parental leave, but at the earliest four months before parental leave begins.
Protection against redundancy and dismissal ends four weeks after parental leave, or after the end of the most recent period of shared parental leave. An employer can only make the employee redundant after the expiry of the protection against redundancy and dismissal. The period of notice begins at that moment.
Returning to Work After Parental Leave
Work has to be resumed after the end of parental leave (= on the child’s second birthday at the latest). If work is not resumed, this can be a reason to dismiss the employee.