German Maternity and Parental Leave Benefits

German maternity and parental leave benefits

[Updated Feb 25, 2024] German maternity and parental leave benefits are plentiful. Benefits range from cash to extended leave and job protection. These benefits are generally available to both mothers and fathers. That said, expecting mothers enjoy special protection, which is also intended to protect the unborn child.

The subsequent information summarizes what employers need to know about German maternity and parental leave benefits.

  • All German nationals and foreigners (including dependents) living in Germany are required to have health insurance, which covers all health-related matters (inpatient, outpatient, dental, vision, and drugs). This also includes basic pediatric and OB/GYN medical care at no additional cost.
  • Employed pregnant women enjoy enhanced protection at work. Employers must carry out risk assessments to ensure that the mother and the unborn child are not exposed to any danger or risks. Following the risk assessment, employers must make necessary changes to eliminate any danger or risks identified.
  • As soon as a female employee informs the employer of her pregnancy, the employee enjoys protection against dismissal, and the employment relationship cannot be terminated until 4 months after the birth of the child.
  • If a woman is unable to work due to complications with her pregnancy, she is entitled to her full salary for as long as necessary. This applies to job protection as well.
  • Women enjoy maternity leave periods as follows: 6 weeks maternity leave before and 8 weeks after birth. In the case of premature or multiple births, women are generally not permitted to work for 12 weeks following the birth.
  • During these protection periods, women in employment who are publicly insured, either by law or because they have chosen to remain with a state health insurer, are eligible for maternity benefits and may not suffer a reduction or loss of earnings.
  • During maternity leave, the publicly insured employee receives a salary partly from their employer and partly from their insurer. The payment is based on the employee’s average net earnings of the 3 months prior to the maternity leave period and is broken down into a fixed rate per day. The health insurance fund only pays a maximum of €13 per calendar day, so where the employee’s calculated average earnings per day exceed the amount of €13, the employer is obliged to pay the difference.
  • Privately insured women, or those co-insured with a family member, receive a one-time payment of €210 from the Federal Social Insurance Office in addition to whatever amount they negotiated with their private insurance provider.
  • The employee is required to apply for the payout from their health insurance provider, which in turn requires a statement of earnings from the employer.

Parental Leave

  • Fathers generally receive 1-2 days paid time off following the birth of a child. It’s expected that this will change to a period of two weeks in 2024 – the German government is currently discussing the final details of the draft law. In any case, both parents have the right to take parental leave for up to 3 years (to the 3rd birthday of the child). Fathers who want to spend more time with their newborns must apply for parental leave. Similarly, mothers who want to stay at home after the mandated maternity leave can go on ‘parental leave’ and must likewise inform their employer.
  • It is not mandatory for employees to take parental leave. Both parents may take this leave simultaneously or in turns. Each parent is entitled to 3 years of leave.
  • Parental leave must be applied for 7 weeks in advance and may be split into periods of 3 blocks.
  • The employer’s consent is not required for the first two leave blocks within the first three years.
  • For any changes to the pre-agreed leave dates, the employer’s consent is required.
  • The last block of parental leave (up to 2 years) may be postponed and taken between the child’s 3rd and 8th birthdays. Here, the employer’s consent is required.
  • Employees on parental leave enjoy job protection and may not be dismissed. Their positions must be secured, and they have the right to return to their previously held position. If this is not possible, the employee will be offered a similar position.
  • Although employees enjoy job protection while on parental leave, the employment contract is nevertheless suspended during this time, meaning that the employer does not have to pay the employee. Consequently, the employee receives, on application, a payment for up to 12 months from the government. If both parents take at least 2 months of parental leave, the government pays for up to 14 months in total; however, parents can only receive parental allowance for one month at the same time as of 2024 within the first 12 months of the newborn’s life. The rest of the leave is unpaid.
  • The amount of the payment depends on the employee’s salary in the 12 months before the birth of the child. In the case of adoption, the salary received at the time of the adoption of the child, for which the child begins living with their new parent(s), is the decisive salary to base the payout amounts from.
  • The payment provided will be between 60-67% of the average earnings of the last 12 months before birth. However, it is capped at €1.800 per month (minimum €300) and is tax and social security contribution-free.
  • Any income earned while receiving a parental leave payment from the state must be reported, and is likely to reduce the payment accordingly.
  • Until the end of March 2024, only parents whose annual taxable income does not exceed EUR 300,000 are eligible to receive parental leave allowance. From April 1, 2024, couples with an annual taxable income of over EUR 200,000 will no longer receive parental allowance. From April 1, 2025, the limit is to fall again to EUR 175,000. The previous limit of EUR 250,000 will continue to apply to single parents.
  • Parents who are privately insured are required to continue paying health insurance contributions in full, including the employer portion, while on parental leave.
  • Employees may decide to work part-time during parental leave. They have the right to work part-time up to a maximum of 30 hours per week. After parental leave, the regular contractual rights and obligations apply again.
  • Employees also have the right to receive half the parental leave payment for two parents as long as both parents work part-time for at least 4 months while on parental leave. Each will be entitled to receive the allowance for a further 4 months.
  • During parental leave, employees continue to accrue vacation. However, this may be reduced by 1/12th for every full calendar month the employee is on parental leave
  • Any leave the employee could not take before going on parental leave can be carried over and may be taken upon their return.



This article about German maternity and parental leave benefits is provided by Profion, Asinta’s employee benefits consulting Partner in Germany.