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Parental allowance and parental leave

In Germany, the State helps you raise your children. Parental allowance and parental leave are the most important benefits for parents.

Parental leave

Parental leave offers you the opportunity of looking after your child whilst allowing you to maintain contact with your working life.

As an employee, you are entitled to parental leave until your child’s turns three. You are not obliged to work during this period. Your job remains open to you and your contract cannot be terminated by your employer. Parental leave can be taken by the mother and father individually or jointly. Grandparents may also be entitled to parental leave if the parent is still a minor or is in the final or penultimate year of a training course that was commenced when the young parent was still a minor. The grandparents only have a claim for periods during which neither of the child's parents is taking up parental leave themselves.

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It is important for you to

  • be living in the same household as your child
  • be largely taking care of the child yourself, and
  • not working for more than 30 hours per week while taking parental leave.

You must submit the application for parental leave to your employer no later than seven weeks before parental leave is due to begin. When the parental leave period expires, your employer must offer you a job of equal standing.

For children born up to 30 June 2015, a maximum of twelve months from the parental leave can also be transferred until when the child turns eight, provided the employer consents to this. For children born from 1 July 2015 onwards, up to 24 months of parental leave can be claimed between the ages of two and seven. This parental leave between the ages of two and seven for births from 1 July 2015 must be registered 13 weeks prior to commencement.

Parental allowance and Parental allowance "Plus"

Parental allowance is a state benefit for parents who would like to look after their child themselves after the birth, and therefore are not in full-time work or not working at all. Parents who were not working before the birth can also receive the parental allowance.

For births from 1 July 2015 onwards, parental allowance is available in two variants: as a basic parental allowance which corresponds to the previous parental allowance arrangement, and as parental allowance "Plus" (ElterngeldPlus). Mothers and fathers can use the latter to combine drawing parental allowance and part-time work. Parents who return to work early on a part-time basis receive parental allowance for a longer period.

The most important things you need to know about parental allowance:

  • Parental allowance is roughly two-thirds of your previous income – at least 300 up to a maximum of 1,800 Euro.
  • Parental allowance is paid for twelve months.
  • If mothers and fathers share the parental allowance, they together receive parental allowance for a maximum of 14 months. Each parent can draw a minimum of two and a maximum of twelve months' parental allowance.
  • ElterngeldPlus is calculated in the same way as the basic parental allowance, but is at most half the amount of parental allowance to which parents who have no part-time income would be entitled after the birth. Having said that, it is paid for twice as long: a basic parental allowance month = two parental allowance "Plus" months.
  • If mothers and fathers both decide to work part-time simultaneously – for four months in parallel and between 25 to 30 hours per week – they will receive four additional ElterngeldPlus months each.
  • Lone parents are entitled to the full 14 months' parental allowance and the partnership bonus.
  • You will also receive parental allowance if you were not in employment prior to the birth.

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To receive parental allowance you must fulfil the following conditions:

  • You look after and raise your child after the birth yourself.
  • You live in the same household as your child.
  • You do not work for more than 30 hours a week.
  • You are resident or customarily resident in Germany.

Nationals of EU Member States, and of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are entitled to parental allowance in the same way as German nationals if they live or work in Germany.

Anyone holding a settlement permit automatically satisfies these conditions. Those who have a residence permit are only entitled to parental allowance if they are or have also been entitled to work in Germany. Parental advice is only paid after a three-year stay in Germany to individuals who have received a residence permit in hardship cases, for provisional protection, on suspension of deportation or because obstacles apply precluding their leaving the country.

Please seek advice about the precise regulations.

You must apply for parental allowance in writing. The Federal Länder have set up parental allowance offices for this purpose.

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You can calculate the amount of the parental allowance that you shoud receive using a parental allowance calculator operated by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs.

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You can find out further information about local services in your area from:

  • the town, local and municipal authorities
  • family counselling offices
  • parental allowance offices
Date 17 December 2015