Information on parental leave

Here we would like to give you a brief overview of the main regulations on parental leave. For clarification the parental benefit offices of the district and city administrations are available to answer questions in individual cases.

Who is entitled to parental leave

Parental leave is intended to enable employees to look after and educate their children themselves. Mothers and fathers are entitled to time off from work (parental leave) until the child reaches the age of 3. Parents can also take parental leave together.

With the employer’s consent, you can transfer part of your parental leave (up to twelve months) to the period after the age of 3 until the age of 8 of your child. The transmission time should be agreed as clearly as possible and should be verifiable. In the event of a change of employer, however, the new employer is not bound by the consent given by the old employer.

The parental leave regulation also applies to adoptive and adoptive foster parents, the spouse’s children or the partner’s children. Even a non-custodial parent can take parental leave if the other parent agrees. As an exception, foster parents who have admitted a child to full-time care in accordance with § 33 of the Eighth Book of the Social Code (SGB VIII) are also entitled to parental leave although they are not entitled to parental benefit.

Since 24 January 2009, grandparents who live with their grandchildren in the same household have also been caring for and raising this child.

  • and one parent of the child is a minor
  • or one of the child’s parents is in the last or penultimate year of an education which began before the age of 18 and which generally makes full use of the parent’s labour resources,

a right to parental leave. However, it exists only for periods during which none of the child’s parents takes parental leave. However, there is no entitlement to parental allowance for grandparents.

In addition, each parent may divide his or her parental leave into up to two periods. Further periods of time are possible with the employer’s consent.

If I would like to take parental leave

The employee must apply in writing for parental leave seven weeks before the start of the period. The period for which parental leave is taken within two years must be declared as binding. The period of parental leave exceeding two years must only be bindingly determined seven weeks before it begins. Further information on parental leave can be obtained from the Parental Allowance Offices.

Is there special protection against dismissal during parental leave?

During parental leave, the same protection against dismissal applies as for mothers during pregnancy and the maternity protection period; fathers also have this protection against dismissal during parental leave.

As a rule, protection against dismissal begins with the employee’s application for parental leave, but no later than eight weeks before the start of parental leave.

The employer may not terminate the employment relationship during parental leave. Only in exceptional cases may the competent Land authority declare a dismissal admissible in special cases. The special protection against dismissal also applies during insolvency proceedings of your employer. If your employment relationship has to be terminated by the company or the insolvency administrator, the approval of the relevant state authority is also required. After approval, the insolvency administrator or the administrator’s own assets may give notice of termination in accordance with section 113 InsO.

Is part-time work possible during parental leave?

During parental leave, part-time work of up to 30 hours per week on average per month is permitted for each parent. With the employer’s consent, part-time work may also be carried out with another employer or as a self-employed activity. The employer must justify its refusal in writing within four weeks on the grounds of conflicting urgent operational reasons. Different provisions apply to teachers and university lecturers. If you take up part-time work while receiving parental benefit, you will have to determine your entitlement to parental benefit anew.

Employees and employers should agree on the scope and structure of part-time work within a reasonable period of time. The reduction in working time may be claimed by each parent no more than twice during the total period of parental leave.

Receipt of parental benefit during parental leave

Please note that parental benefit is paid for the months of the child’s life, while parental leave is usually taken after calendar months. In order to avoid disadvantages for you, you should orientate yourself to the months of life of the child and seek advice from your parental benefit office when you are simultaneously receiving parental benefit and taking parental leave.

Am I still a member of the health insurance?

In statutory health insurance, compulsory membership is maintained during the period when parental benefits are paid or parental leave is taken. Contributions are not to be made from the parental allowance. However, this does not apply to other income, e. g. from part-time work during parental leave.

Further questions should be clarified directly with the respective health insurance company.

Are times taken into account in the statutory pension insurance?

The first three years of the child’s life are taken into account in the mother’s or father’s pension insurance as child-raising periods.

Note to the above comments

The regulations on parental leave described above apply to employees. Civil servants are sometimes subject to different regulations under civil service law. Information on this can be obtained from your employer and the parental benefit offices of the district and city administrations.

Sources: Informationsblatt zur Elternzeit, Author: Ministerium für Integration, Familie, Kinder. Jugend und Frauen Rheinland-Pfalz (Januar 2015)