The legal framework

Caring for family members requires considerable organization. Seeking to support you in your care responsibilities, we have compiled the most important information about care leave, family care leave, 10-day leaves of absence, the legal framework regulating these issues and degrees of care assessments.

Long-term care insurance SGB XI

Long-term care insurance is a mandatory contributions-based social insurance scheme set up in 1995 and insures its holders against the risk of requiring long-term care. It provides various types and level of assistance. It is provided by various care funds, who are themselves run by the statutory health insurance providers.

Support from the long-term care insurance funds is contingent upon approval of an application and includes payments for the costs incurred by domestic, residential and semi-residential care. It can also cover the costs of care equipment and measures to improve living conditions. 

The legal base of care insurance (German only) can be found in the Social Code.

An elderly lady and a carer smile at each other
© Colourbox

The Care Leave Act 

The Care Leave Act (Pflegezeitgesetz - PflegeZG) which came in force on July 1, 2008, is designed to enable members of staff to combine their career with domestic care responsibilities.

The legislation differentiates between two forms of eligibility:

Short term leave of absence (§ 2)

§ 2 PflegeZG gives employees the right to a leave of absence of up to 10 days per year to organize or provide care to a close relative in cases in which the need for care developed suddenly.

Close relatives as defined by § 7 para. 3:

Grandparents, parents, parents-in-law, step parents, marriage partners, long-term partners, common law marriage partners, siblings, siblings-in-law, children, adopted or foster children, natural children, adopted or foster children of a marriage partner or long-term partner, children-in-law

The requirement for this leave of absence must be communicated to the employer immediately.

Care support benefit

The person on such leave can apply to the care fund of the person requiring care for the payment of care support money.

Note: This application is not obligatory. You are welcome to apply for the short-term work prevention on an informal base.

Care leave (§ 3)

Employees have the opportunity to reduce or interrupt entirely their working commitments for a maximum period of six months for the purpose of providing care to close relatives in a domestic context.

Those taking care leave can apply to the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society ("Bundesamt für Familie und zivilgesellschaftliche Aufgaben") (website in German only) for an interest-free loan with which to cushion the financial loss involved.

Employees must provide their employer with a minimum of 10 days written notice before their decision to take care leave, informing them of the scope by which they wish to reduce their working hours and the duration of the leave.

An elderly lady playing a board game
© Colourbox

The Family Care Leave Act (“Familienpflegezeitgesetz”)

The Family Care Leave Act came into force on January 1, 2012.

The state-funding of family care leave is intended to provide employees with the opportunity to reduce their working hours for up to two years to enable them to care for a family member in a domestic context. The funding provided by the state ensures that they do not suffer any financial hardship as a result.

If you would like to care for family members in a domestic context for an extended period of time, you can reduce your weekly working hours to a minimum of 15 hours per week (annual average) for a maximum of 24 months. 

As with care leave, those taking family care leave can apply to the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society for an interest-free loan.

Employees must provide their employer with a minimum of 8 weeks of written notice before their decision to take family care leave, informing them of the scope by which they wish to reduce their working hours and the duration of the leave. 

The II Act For Strengthening Care (“Pflegestärkungsgesetz II”)

Since the changeover to the new long-term care requirement concept, the old care levels no longer apply. They have been replaced by five degrees of care.

New since 2017:

  • The new assessment no longer focuses on the degree of care required, but the level of personal independence.
  • This new approach also takes mental acuity into account.
  • The assessment no longer takes into account the time required by an individual to perform certain tasks.

The assessment is performed by the award of points. The person under assessment is then assigned to one of five degrees of care on a scale from 0 to 100.

The following areas of life (modules) are subject to consideration and weighting:

Module 1: Mobility

Module 2: Cognitive and communicative skills

Module 3: Behavioral and psychological problems

Module 4: Self-care

Module 5: The ability to deal independently with illness-related or therapy-related requirements and stresses.

Module 6: The ability to organize a daily routine and social contacts.

The overall result from the six modules leads to assessment in one of the followingdegrees of care requirement:

DC 1 – minor restriction of personal independence
Points: 12.5 - 27

DC 2 – considerable restriction of personal independence
Points: 27 - 67.5

DC 3 – serious restriction of personal independence
Points: 67.5 - 70

DC 4 – severe restriction of personal independence
Points: 70 - 90

DC 5 – severe restriction of personal independence resulting in specific care requirements
Points: 90 - 100


Please feel free to contact us to arrange individual and comprehensive advice. 

Avatar Lohmer

Stefanie Lohmer

Please also read

The Federal Ministry of Health Care guidebook 

The guidebook provides important information about caring for family members and a glossary of terms. 

First steps 

Care situations can develop suddenly and unexpectedly. Find out how to respond and the level of financial support available.

The Family Care Leave Act – information from the BMFSFJ

The BMFSFJ has published a summary of important information about the Family Care Leave Act. 

Learn more (German only)

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