Are you a parent who stays at home

Parental leave

Stay at home for the family for a limited period

Dr. Britta Beate Schön
Legal Expert As of May 17, 2019

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

  • As an employee, you have the right to be released from work unpaid for childcare - parental leave.
  • Both parents can stay at home with each child at the same time or one after the other for up to three years. During the first 14 months, there is usually parental allowance as a state social benefit.
  • You are protected against dismissal during parental leave.
  • You can work up to 30 hours a week without your parental leave ending.
  • After parental leave, you have the right to return to your old or a comparable position.
  • Think about who should look after the children and how long you want to stay at home.
  • If you want to take parental leave, you must notify the employer in writing no later than seven weeks before the start. Fax or email is not enough.
  • To register for parental leave, you can use our Sample letter Use “Request for parental leave”.

For download

  • Think about whether you want to work less hours during parental leave.
  • Also clarify how you are financially secure during parental leave. Apply for parental allowance in good time. You can find more information on this in our parental allowance guide.

Combining family and work is often not easy. Parental leave is intended to enable employees to look after their child while maintaining contact with the world of work. The Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (BEEG) regulates this special form of vacation, which is used to care for and raise one's own or - under certain circumstances - other children.

Who is entitled to parental leave?

All mothers and fathers who dependently employed are legally entitled to parental leave (Section 15 (1) BEEG). It does not matter whether the employment relationship is limited or only a part-time position. However, parental leave does not extend a temporary job. Trainees and civil servants can also request parental leave (MuSchEltZV).

Parental leave can not only be taken by the birth parents if they are looking after a child. Rather, the decisive criterion is that care. If this is missing from a partner, he or she can still apply for parental leave if the parent with custody agrees. Fathers whose paternity has not yet been recognized require the consent of the mother who has custody.

Relatives of the child can take parental leave if the biological parents are seriously ill, disabled or died and they now have to look after the child.

Grandparents can take parental leave

Grandparents can also take time off to raise a grandchild for a period of up to three years (Section 15 (1a) BEEG). However, parental leave for grandfathers and mothers is tied to three conditions:

  1. The grandchild lives in the same household as the grandparent.
  2. The child's father or mother is a minor or is in training that began before his or her 18th birthday.
  3. Both birth parents do not take parental leave themselves.

The entitlement to parental leave does not automatically mean that you receive parental allowance. Grandparents do not receive parental allowance even if they take parental leave.

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How long can I take parental leave?

Both parents can have each child at the same time or one after the other up to three years Take parental leave. But you can also choose a shorter period.

Distribution of parental leave

You can take the three years of parental leave in the first three years of your child's life together or divide the time into sections. The period under the Maternity Protection Act, i.e. the two months after the birth of the child, is offset against parental leave. The maternity protection period therefore does not extend parental leave beyond the third year.

How flexible you are when it comes to determining your individual parental leave months depends on when the child was born. Is your child before July 1, 2015 came into the world, you can take parental leave in two sections split up.

With the approval of the boss, mothers and fathers can save up to twelve months of their parental leave and take it until the child's eighth birthday, for example in the first year of primary school.

Is your child after July 1, 2015 born, you can take parental leave three sections to distribute. As an employee, you can also take parental leave for up to two years between the child's third and eighth birthday. It is not necessary for the employer to agree to this. In this case, the notification period is 13 weeks before the start of parental leave. The employer can only refuse parental leave after the age of three for urgent operational reasons.

A job change during parental leave reshuffles the cards: The new employer is not bound by the consent of the previous company to take parental leave.

How do I apply for parental leave?

Inform your employer in good time about how long you would like to take parental leave. You must take parental leave within the first three years of the child's life at the latest seven weeks before they begin apply in writing to the HR department (Section 16 (1) BEEG).

If, as a mother, you want to take parental leave immediately after the eight weeks of maternity leave, you must apply for parental leave no later than one week after the birth. You can also apply for parental leave before the birth by specifying the expected due date.

For parental leave that you want to take between the child's third and eighth birthday, the deadline for registering with the employer is 13 weeks before it begins.

In the notification you must explain to your employer from when to when you want to take parental leave after the birth of the child in the next two years. Ask your employer to confirm this to you in writing.

By the way, the employer can submit your application don't refuse: You have a legal right to parental leave.

Danger: Written means signed by hand. Under no circumstances should you send the parental leave notification by email or fax alone. This is not sufficient for the strict written form and is therefore void, the Federal Labor Court decided (BAG, judgment of May 10, 2016, Az. 9 AZR 145/15). Because of the formal error, you then have no protection against dismissal under the Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act (§ 18 BEEG).

You can use our parental leave sample letter to apply for parental leave.

Sample letter of application for parental leave

You can write our sample here "Application for parental leave" download:

For download

Protection against dismissal during parental leave

In principle, the employer may not terminate the employment relationship during parental leave. This special protection against dismissal begins when the employee has requested parental leave - but no more than eight weeks before the start of parental leave (Section 18 BEEG). For those who take parental leave after the child's third birthday, protection against dismissal begins 14 weeks in advance at the earliest. It is therefore advisable not to register parental leave much earlier than the statutory deadlines require.

In all cases ends protection against dismissal at the end of parental leave. The employee can terminate the employment relationship at the end of parental leave if he observes a notice period of three months.

Can I work part-time during parental leave?

During parental leave, mothers and fathers are entitled to reduced working hours. Those affected do not have to accept the argument that there is no suitable job: the employer is obliged to fulfill their part-time request. For this, the parents only have to indicate the desired working hours and the period.

Employment of up to 30 hours weekly. In companies with fewer than 15 employees, however, there is no right to part-time work. Both sides have to come to an agreement there.

Overall, as an employee, you can request that your working hours be reduced twice. You cannot reduce a third time (LAG Hamburg, judgment of May 18, 2011, Az. 5 Sa 93/10).

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Am I entitled to vacation during parental leave?

The employer can reduce the annual vacation to which you are entitled by one twelfth for each full calendar month of parental leave. He must grant the rest of the vacation in the current vacation year or in the following year after parental leave (Section 17 (1) BEEG).

If you work part-time during parental leave, you have the same vacation entitlement as your colleagues without parental leave. If the employment relationship ends during parental leave or if it is not continued afterwards, the company has to pay out vacation days that you did not take.

How am I insured for health and care during parental leave?

Members of a statutory health insurance are insured free of charge during parental leave, provided they compulsorily insured are. Voluntarily insured persons remain a member of the statutory health insurance during parental leave; however, they still have to pay contributions, possibly the minimum contribution.

Privately insured On the other hand, they have to pay their full contribution on parental leave: the employer's contribution to health and long-term care insurance does not apply during parental leave. It is not possible for a parent to switch to free family insurance during parental leave.

You can find out more about this in our guide to health insurance during parental leave.

What happens after parental leave?

After the agreed parental leave has expired, both mothers and fathers have the right to return to their old - or a comparable - job. This also applies to civil servants. The employer may not classify them lower after parental leave (ECJ, judgment of September 7, 2017, Az. C-174/16).

A premature end However, you have to coordinate parental leave with your employer. However, this must correspond to the request if it is not opposed to any operational issues. The employer can only reject the premature termination due to the birth of another child or a particular case of hardship - for example because the economic existence of the parents is at risk - for urgent operational reasons.

Unemployment benefit after parental leave

If you become unemployed after a long period of parental leave, you may receive little or no financial support. In order to receive unemployment benefit, you must have had an insurance relationship with the Employment Agency for at least twelve months in the past two years. This is the case if you are raising a child who is younger than three years. If, on the other hand, you take parental leave between the child's third and eighth birthday, you are not insured against unemployment. This can jeopardize the receipt of unemployment benefits.

Even if you fulfill the twelve-month qualifying period, you have to go along with it Reductions in unemployment benefits calculate. Because the amount of the benefit is by no means always based on the last salary before parental leave: If you have worked less than 150 calendar days in the previous two years, the Employment Agency can set a fictitious salary instead.

The Federal Social Court has confirmed this (judgment of August 25, 2011, Az. B 11 AL 19/10 R). The plaintiff had lost her job after four years of parental leave. Because she was only employed for around three months after that, the authority calculated her unemployment benefit on the basis of a fictitious income.

More on this in the legal protection insurance guide

  • You can get good legal protection for less than 300 euros a year.
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To the advisor

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

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