What is Maternity Leave?
Expectant mothers enter maternity leave when they are due to give birth. The maternity protection (Mutterschutz) covers them during this time period. This explains that mothers are not allowed to go to work. But this doesn’t mean that they can’t get salaries. While a mother is on maternity leave, they can get maternity benefits i.e., (Mutterschaftsgeld).
🔶 Related Topic: Elternzeit (Parental Leave) in Germany
Eligibility for Maternity Leave
All the women who are pregnant and those who breastfeed can avail maternity leave if they are working in Germany or working somewhere else under a German contract. This facility is not dependent on nationality or marital status.
The above considerations do not apply for those who are:
- Civil servants – there are special rules for them depending on their level of employment
Duration of Maternity Leave
The beginning of maternity leave is six weeks before the birth of a child. It ends eight weeks after the birth of a child. In case of multiple birth or premature delivery, mothers are entitled for 12 weeks after birth.
- The after-birth 12 weeks period offered for premature babies is extended by days. This extension cannot be availed before birth.
- For children who are born at earlier delivery than expected, but not considered premature medically, there is no reduction in maternity leave. The whole period of 14 weeks will be allotted to the mother.
- In case the child is born later than the calculated date, the period of protection will not be reduced.
Pregnant women are not allowed to attend work when they are on maternity leave. The leave period comprises six weeks before birth and eight weeks after the birth. If a pregnant woman insists on working, they are allowed to attend work but only during the six weeks before the birth. During the eight weeks after birth, there is a strict ban.
Payments During Maternity Leave
German health insurance offers a maximum of 13 euros a day for maternity allowance. This allowance is paid in line with calendar days. The maximum amount for this becomes 390 euros. In case of maternity leave, the employer is bound to make up the difference for maternity allowance of maternity and previous salary.
The German health insurance calculates the maternity allowance from net salary. Usually, taxes are removed from this calculation. The maternity benefit for pregnant women who are insured amounts up to 13 euros per calendar day. This amount is paid by the concerned health insurance company.
Notification to Health Insurance by Pregnant Woman
A pregnant woman has to inform the health insurance company at least seven weeks before the expected delivery date. It is also required to submit a medical certificate. If the health insurance company is not informed on time, the pregnant woman won’t be entitled to the benefits.
Maternity Subsidy from Employer
The maternity allowance per calendar day is 13 euros. If the net income of an employee is exceeding that amount, the employer tops it up with a subsidy. On the other hand, subsidy won’t be entitled if the mother is utilizing parental leave.
The subsidy amount is calculated using the difference between 13 euros and the average wage minus net wage. In this instance, last three months salaries are used for calculation purposes
Special Rights for Women During Pregnancy
The Maternity Protection of Germany is very favorable and patient-centric which keeps mothers from performing any tasks that can risk their health or their children’s.
Reduced Working Hours
- Working between 8pm and 10pm is prohibited. The pregnant women will have to expressly agree if they want to do so. Also, employers will have to obtain a permit from the respective authority.
- Working between 10pm and 6am is prohibited
- Working on Sundays or holidays is prohibited. The pregnant women will have to expressively agree if they want to do so. If they do, there should be an 11-hour gap between shifts. Further, an alternative day of rest will be provided.
- Over time working is strictly prohibited.
- For those under 18, working more than 8 hours a day is not allowed. On a fortnightly basis, they are not allowed to work more than 80 hours.
- For those over 18, working more than 8.5 hours a day is not allowed. On a fortnightly basis, they are not allowed to work more than 90 hours.
Prohibitions of Certain Occupations
- The pregnant woman should be provided with the healthy and safe work environment
- It is not allowed to lift heavy objects. This includes jobs where employees are used to lifting more than 5 kgs without any machine.
- The use of extreme substances or elements that can hurt pregnancy is prohibited.
- It is not allowed to do chores that include stretching, bending, or crouching
- It is not allowed to work with instruments or machines that can cause feet stress
- If the job requires constant standing, it also not allowed after the 6th month of pregnancy
Special Protection for Nursing Mothers
Children’s development is very important in Germany and breastfeeding is a cornerstone of it. Nursing mothers are allowed to take as much time as they want to breastfeed their newborn child.
If a mother joins back at work while they are breastfeeding, the employer must provide them ample time to take breaks for breastfeeding. This can be allowed till the child’s 1st birthday.
The nursing breaks can be either one hour a day or two periods of 30 minutes. If in any case, breastfeeding is not possible near the office, a 90-minute break can also be requested.
Getting ill During Pregnancy
If a pregnant woman is not able to work during the pregnancy protection law, they receive benefits from the employer. These benefits link with the normal salary.
If a pregnant woman has taken sick leave, she will get benefits from the employee under the act of Continued Remuneration. The employer pays the initial 6-week illness. After that, the health insurance company takes over. When the period of pregnancy protection begins, employees can get maternity benefits. Also, subsidies will be entitled.
Entitlement of Maternity Benefits for Students During Pregnancy
If the student has taken student health insurance and is not availed of sickness benefits, they can be entitled to maternity benefits.
Unemployed Pregnant Woman in Germany
If the pregnant woman is jobless at the start of their maternity leave and they are entitled to unemployment benefits, they will get maternity benefits in the amount of unemployment benefits. This amount will be paid by the health insurance company. The employer in this scenario will not be held responsible.
Postponed Due Date
Even if the baby is not born as per the calculated date, the rights of maternity leave remain active. For premature births, the days which were left unused prior to delivery are allowed to be consumed in time after birth.
If the baby is found to be premature medically, the leave for maternity is extended to twelve weeks after birth. This instance happens in multi pregnancies as well.
Maternity Leave Falling on Parental Leave
If a mother gets pregnant for the 2nd time and their parental leave for the first baby is covered with maternity leave, the following rules will apply:
- Being a member of statutory health insurance, salary replacement benefits of 13 euros a day will again be provided.
- In this scenario, the employer won’t be bound to pay allowances during the leave.