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Maternity protection, parental leave and parental benefit

Parental leave presents the perfect opportunity for mothers and fathers to reduce their working hours and engage with their family.  Find out here when to apply for parental benefit and learn about maternity protection, maternity benefits and parental allowance.

Maternity protection

The Maternity Protection Act applies to pregnant women with an employment contract.

When does maternity leave start and end

  • Maternity leave usually starts six weeks before the birth. Pregnant women may not be employed during this period, unless they expressly wish to do so.
  • New mothers are not permitted to work eight weeks after their birth. This period is extended to 12 weeks for premature births and multiple births.

Special regulations apply to female employees who are exposed to chemical and biological hazardous substances or physical harmful factors. Here, a ban on employment can be imposed if the assessment of the work has shown that the safety or health of the mother and child are at risk.

Information about the risk assessment to be performed for specialist and management staff at the University

As a manager, you are responsible for the risk assessment. It is also your responsibility to arrange a suitable working environment for employees under your care.

Comprehensive information about the implementation of maternity protection is provided here. (German only). 

Maternity benefit

During the period of maternity leave in force before and after birth, the financial security of women in employment is usually ensured by

  1. Maternity benefit and
  2. A supplement paid by the employer

Public sector employees are subject to the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act.

Female employees who are not personally members of a statutory health insurance scheme (e.g. holders of private health insurance cover or those covered by family insurance) will receive maternity benefit of €210.00 per month paid by the  Federal Office for Social Security (“Bundesamt für Soziale Sicherung”).

Female civil servants

Female civil servants are subject to separate regulations.

With only very few exceptions, women cannot be dismissed from post for the duration of their pregnancy and for four months after the birth.

This protection only applies if

  • The employer was aware of the pregnancy at the time at which they issued notice of dismissal.
  • The employer was informed of the fact of the pregnancy within two weeks after the woman received notice of dismissal.

 This rule does not apply if, for example, the employer is insolvent.

A father and his son are playing with building blocks
© Colourbox

Parental leave

Who can claim parental leave?

All employees expecting a child, including those employed on a part-time basis, a fixed-term contract and civil servants, are eligible for parental leave in accordance with federal and state ordinances.

Where and how are applications made for parental leave?

The duration of the desired parental leave must be stipulated in an application to be submitted to the employer seven weeks before the parental leave is to start at the latest. Applicants must decide and state which parent wishes to take leave in which periods of the first two years of the child’s life.

The Application for Parental Leave  (in German) is to be submitted to the responsible HR department.

 Parental leave cover

The function of an employee on maternity leave or parental leave is generally covered by a replacement. This also applies to academic personnel with a fixed-term contract. Any decision not to replace those on parental leave with cover must be substantiated.

  • The period of time which an employee can spend on parental leave is entirely independent of the length of time for which parental benefit is claimed.
  • Parental benefit is paid for months of the child’s life, and not calendar months. Please take this into account when placing an application for parental leave.
  • The period of maternity leave is deducted from the possible three-year period of parental leave. A father can take parental leave from the date of the child’s birth, even if this coincides with the mother’s maternity leave.
  • Dismissal whilst on parental leave is possible in only exceptional cases. This also applies if you work part-time during the period of parental leave.
  • The regulations for holiday entitlement during parental leave are set out in the University of Bonn Holiday and Leave Policy Guide6(German only)

Information for civil servants

For civil servants, special regulations apply with regard to parental benefit and parental leave.

Parental benefit

Parental benefit is intended as a replacement to earnings and are paid during parental leave to enable parents to care for their child.


Parents are paid parental benefit if they

  • Care for their children themselves following birth/are not in paid employment for more than 32 hours a week.
  • Live together with their children in a single household.
  • Are resident in Germany.

Parental allowance is granted for months of the child's life, beginning on the day of birth and ending on the day before the child's birthday. As applications for parental benefit are usually coupled to applications for parental leave, the start date should be taken into account when making the application.

Employees resident in Bonn are to submit their application for parental benefit to the Office for Children, Youth and Family ("Amt für Kinder, Jugend und Familie") of the City of Bonn.

Please note: These explanations explain the legal situation for parents whose children were born after August 2021. If your child was born before September 1, 2021, different regulations may apply to you. Please contact your parental allowance office for more information. 

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© Colourbox


The amount of parental benefit paid is set in accordance with the level of parental income lost as a result of parental leave. Depending on the earning of the parent applying for parental benefit, parental benefit is currently paid to cover 65-67% of current earnings lost. 

You can estimate the level of parental benefit which you would receive using the Parental benefit calculator8 (German only) from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

The replacement rate for those with a monthly income under €1,000 a month before the birth of their child increases step-by-step until it reaches 100%. The lower the level of income, the higher the level of replacement. 

Every parent who cares for their child themselves receives the minimum payment of €300, irrespective of their status (student, housewife/houseman and parents who have not worked due to the need to care for older children).

Parental benefit plus ("ElterngeldPlus")makes it easier for parents to combine parental benefit with part-time employment. This scheme means that parents who return to work earlier can receive financial support for a longer period. Part-time employment is not a precondition for the receipt of parental benefit plus.

Further information about parental benefit plus is available in this Brochure from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ).

The basic level of parental benefit can be paid for a maximum of 14 months if both parents take parental leave. Parental benefit plus can be paid over a longer period. The division of the months can be distributed individually between the parents. A single basis level parental benefit month can be divided into two parental benefit plus months with 50 % payments.


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Karin Kick

Please also read

Parental benefit, parental benefit plus and parental leave

Further detailed information is available in the BMFSFJ brochure.

The Maternity Protection Act

Do you need exact information? Take a look in the Maternity Protection Act

Learn more(German only)

Advice, certifications and more

Find out more about free-of-charge consultation services for expectant mothers, birth certificates and other issues.

Learn more (German only)

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