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Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit und Gleichstellung ("The Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, and Gender Equality", brochures on maternity leave in multiple languages)
In Germany, the Maternity Proctection Act ("Mutterschutzgesetz") applies to all female employees expecting a child who are employed under a continuous contract, regardless of citizenship or family status, though the workplace has to be in Germany. The law serves as a protection of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and their child from workplace hazards, overexertion and exhaustion, health impairment, and from financial loss or loss of workplace.
According to the law, maternity protection begins six to eight weeks before the birth and ends eight to twelve weeks after the birth. During that period of time, under no circumstances the employee is allowed to work (Beschäftigungsverbot, also called "Mutterschaftsurlaub": maternity leave).
During the fourteen weeks of maternity protection/maternity leave, mothers are financially secure as they receive maternity pay ("Mutterschaftsgeld") in the amount of the previous average net income. Maternity pay is paid jointly by the health insurance provider and the employer, who pays an employer supplement (Arbeitgeberzuschuss). Upon expiry of maternity protection/maternity leave, many mothers (and fathers) take parental leave ("Elternzeit") and receive parental benefit ("Elterngeld") as financial support, though parental benefit will be much less than the previous net income.
In Germany, parents are entitled to child benefit ("Kindergeld") until the child turns 18 years old or until the child completes school education (including higher education at a university) or vocational training (apprenticeship), but only up to a maximum of 25 years and only to a certain income level of the child. Currently, parents receive a monthly child benefit of EUR 219 for the first and second child, EUR 225 for the third child, and EUR 250 for every other child. A family with four children, for example, may be entitled to a monthly child benefit of EUR 913 in total. Applications for child benefit need to be submitted in writing to th Child benefit ("Bundesagentur für Arbeit") (the office of the federal employment agency for family benefits and payments).
Child benefit is granted to parents who have their place of residence in Germany. Parents whose income is not fully taxable in Germany may also receive child benefit, but only under certain conditions: they have to be in an insurance relationship with the Federal Employment Agency in Germany, work as an aid worker or missionary, work in a position under the German civil service law (civil servants), or receive a pension under the German pension law. It is also required that the child for whom parents claim child benefit has his or her place of residence in Germany or in a memeber state of the European Union (except for children of aid workers and missionaries).
Are you entitled to child benefit in Germany?
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens are entitled to child benefit if their employment/workplace is in Germany or if their place of residence is in Germany.
Citizens of other countries who have their place of residence in Germany are also entitled to child benefit if they obtained a settlement permit or a residence permit that allows employment.
According to the German "Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz" (federal law for parental benefit and parental leave), parents have a statutory right to claim parental leave ("Elternzeit") and parental benefit ("Elterngeld"), also known as parental allowance: Each parent (individually or jointly) is entitled to parental leave until the child turns three years old. As he/she is not obliged to work during this period, a salary will not be paid, but the job remains open and the contract can not be terminated by the employer due to a special protection of dismissal ("Kündigungsschutz"). An application for parental leave has to be submitted to the employer no later than seven weeks before it is due to begin. Part-time employment with a maximum of 30 hours/week is legitimate.
During parental leave, parents are also entitled to parental benefit. It is salary-based and about 65% of the previous (net) income (with a minimum of 300 Euro and up to a maximum of 1800 Euro per month). It is paid for a maximum of twelve months, unless both parents take parental leave of at least two months. In this case, parental benefit will be paid for up to fourteen months. Parents may also split the fourteen months and may each take seven months of parental leave.
Entitlement to parental benefit applies if the parents live with their child in one household, raise their child themselves, do not work full-time, and if their habitual place of residence is in Germany. As with child benefit, parents who live in a foreign country are also entitled to parental benefit if their workplace is in Germany and if their income is subject to income tax, for example when the income is mainly earned in Germany.
As of 1 January 2015, parents who work part-time may receive "Elterngeld Plus" (Parental Benefit Plus), which is paid as a substitute for the reduced income due to part-time employment. Parental benefit Plus is paid for twice as long as parental benefit, i.e. one month of parental benefit equals two months of parental benefit Plus, with the amount of benefit reduced according to the longer period of benefit receipt (with a minimum of 150 Euro and a maximum of 900 Euro per month). A combination of parental benefit and parental benefit Plus is possible.
Advice and information on parental leave and parental benefit is provided by the Elterngeldstelle of the City of Oldenburg.
Are you entitled to parental benefit in Germany?
Citizens of the EU, EEA, and of Switzerland are entitled to parental benefit if their employment/workplace or their place of residence is in Germany. If one parent is employed in a foreign country, entitlement to parental benefit may be given in the other country and may be taken into account when applying for German parental benefit.
Citizens of other countries who have their habitual place of residence in Germany are also entitled to parental benefit if they have a permanent settlement permit or permanent residence permit that allows employment.