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Comprehensive Guide to Parental Leave

Navigating Parental Leave: Essential Information for New Parents

Freshly baked parents can apply for up to 36 months of parental leave after the birth of their child. When you do this is largely released. Nevertheless, some important deadlines must be observed.

Applying for Parental Leave
Fathers and mothers can be exempted from work for up to 36 months for the care of their children

The Essentials in brief

  • If you want to look after your (small) children yourself, you can register parental leave at the employer and be released unpaid for each offspring for up to three years.
  • Parental leave begins at the earliest with the birth of the child and ends at the latest on the day before his eighth birthday.
  • The financial gap can be reduced with parental allowance. In addition, workers can also work part-time during parental leave.
  • For the organization of parental leave to work smoothly, (expectant) mothers and fathers should bring their boss on board as early as possible and pay attention to some important deadlines.

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Parents have a legal right to parental leave

Lack of sleep. Hormone spreads. And completely new priorities. Children change their parents’ lives sustainably. However, employers often have to reschedule when an employee expands his family. The reason: to allow parents to devote themselves to their offspring, employees are entitled to up to three years of parental leave per child.

During this time, mothers and fathers do not have to work, but keep their workplace and enjoy other privileges. For example, particularly comprehensive protection against dismissal. Depending on when a child is born, the family break can be designed differently. The following applies: Parents can take a break right after birth, say goodbye to the job shortly before school – or divide parental leave into several sections.

Share of employed parents on parental leave

Share of employed parents on parental leave

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The application for parental leave must be available to the employer at an early stage

“For employers, parental leave often means considerable effort,” says Robert Tapella, specialist lawyer for labor law in Kassel. “However, the legislator consciously accepted this to improve the compatibility of work and family.” Success proves him right: Since the Federal Parental Flyings and Parental Leave Law (BEEG) came into force in 2007, the interest of interest increased constantly to the model.

To enable companies to be as smooth as possible and avoid disputes with the boss, parents should bring their employees on board as early as possible. In addition, the law prescribes certain deadlines within which you have to announce your parental leave plans to the company.

We explain in detail what employees have to pay special attention to when applying for parental leave.

Who is entitled to parental leave?

The unpaid break from the job is a privilege for dependent employees. It is only entitled to employees. Further prerequisites to be able to apply successfully for parental leave: The person concerned must live with the child in a common household and look after the offspring himself.

Not only do biological children trigger a claim for parental leave: But employers also have to enable unpaid exemption from work for care and adoptive children. The same applies to the biological children of the married or registered life partner.

Parental leave doesn’t need to make their work rest completely. If you want, you can work up to 32 hours a week.

Important: Whether only the mother or the other parent requests parental leave does not influence the claim. Accordingly, fathers and mothers can be exempted from work at the same time or one after the other. This applies even if you are employed by the same company.

What is the relationship between parental leave maternity protection and paternity vacation?

Whether employed parental leave – and to what extent – is available to you as long as you move within the legal framework. Maternity protection, on the other hand, is mandatory.

  • “If the pregnant woman does not voluntarily refrain from this protection, employers may not employ expectations six weeks before and eight weeks after birth,” says lawyer Tapella.
  • If the child is born as a premature baby, the protective period after the return is extended to twelve weeks.
  • The same applies to multiple births or when the woman gives birth to a child with disabilities.

Another important difference between parental leave and maternity leave: is that parental leave gives no money from your employer.

During the protective periods before and after birth, it is different: here legally insured women receive up to 13 euros per calendar day from their cash register (maternity allowance). The employer increases the remuneration to the average net wage of the last three calendar months before the start of the protection periods. So the expectant mother has no financial losses throughout her pregnancy.

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There is no legally prescribed paternity vacation

Private insured employees are entitled to maternity benefits from the Federal Office for Social Security before and after birth (max. 210 euros per month). In addition, the employer also increases the salary with you until the average net of the past three months. However, 13 euros per day, i.e. the sum, will be deducted from your statutory insurance at best.

However, there is (yet) a legally prescribed paternity vacation. The same applies to same-sex couples for the mother who does not bend the child. If the employment contract does not contain any deviating rules, you can claim a short paid special leave for the birth of your child based on paragraph 616 BGB (read more about a special vacation here).

It remains to be seen whether the second parent will get more free time for the freshly hatched offspring in the foreseeable future. The EU already issued a guideline in 2019 that provides for a ten-day vacation. At the moment, however, there is little indication that the legislature is to plan comprehensive changes for fathers.

Rather, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs says: “The ten-day paid time for the second parent around the birth of the child does not have to implement the tenth-day-day paid time for the child.”

When and how do employees have to apply for parental leave from the employer?

The most important thing in advance: Employees do not have to make an application in the classic sense. Because parental leave does not require the approval of the employer. “Parents therefore only have to claim their parental leave,” said lawyer Tapella. “However, it is important that you do this in writing.” A fax or an email is not enough. “The parental leave request must always be present in black and signed by the employer and signed by the employee,” said expert Tapella.

It is also important that employees contact their boss in good time. Because those who do not keep the prescribed deadlines risk that the boss can still reject parental leave. For mothers and fathers who want to parental leave before the child’s third birthday, this means that they have to inform employers no later than seven weeks before the desired date. If you want a break after your third birthday, you have to plan for 13 weeks.

When parental leave begins depends on various factors

“Young parents who want to go on parental leave from the day of birth should expressly note in their letter and point out that the date mentioned so far is only the calculated date of birth,” advises lawyer Tapella. If the child is born earlier than expected, it may be that the statutory announcement period (at least during the father’s parental leave) is undercut. Then the start of the time-out would normally move backward.

“However, if you get the employer on board at an early stage, you have a good chance that he will not comply with the deadline,” said lawyer Tapella. If the child comes later than expected, parental leave only begins with birth anyway, since parental leave is always only possible when the offspring is born.

Whether mother or father: Can parental leave be divided into several sections?

Parental leave to “split”, so to speak, is in principle possible. Depending on how old the child is, different regulations apply.

Before the third birthday of the offspring, employees can largely choose when their parental leave begins and when it ends. It is conceivable to take the entire parental leave at once as well as divide it into several sections.

How many such tranches are entitled to an employee depends on when the offspring were born:

  • If the offspring saw the light of day after July 1, 2015, his parents are entitled to a maximum of three periods of parental leave. With the consent of the employer, further periods are also possible.
  • In the case of births before July 1, 2015, you can ask your boss for at least one piece of the piece in two phases.

The periods of parental leave must be determined in advance

To facilitate the organization to the employer, parents have to commit parental leave when registering parental leave, and how they want to distribute their parental leave in the next two years. This applies at least if you register your parental leave before the child’s third birthday. Changes are then only possible with the express consent of the employer. Even those who want to end their parental leave prematurely can only do this with a few exceptions if the boss supports this step.

“The parental leave request must be in black and be signed.”
Lawyer Robert Tapella

After the end of the binding period, the rest of the parental leave can be used freely. Employees are therefore not dependent on the approval of their boss as long as they only maintain the announcement period. Nevertheless, it makes sense to include the employer in the planning as early as possible. “In addition, parents should always have a confirmation for the registration of their parental leave,” said Tapella. “This letter should state from when to when the employee is exempted and when he has asserted his claims in writing.”

“Parents should always have a confirmation for the registration of their parental leave.”
Lawyer Robert Tapella

Can the employer issue termination during parental leave?

This is only possible in exceptional cases, for example when the company becomes insolvent. And the boss must have the termination approved by a supervisory authority. Important: The special protection against dismissal for parental leave is generally from the moment an employee has claimed parental leave at the boss, but a maximum of one week before the announcement period.

Mothers and fathers who go on parental leave before their child’s third birthday are protected from dismissal at the earliest eight weeks before the start of their time-out. For the parents of over-three-year-olds, protection against dismissal begins at the earliest 14 weeks before parental leave.



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