Germany is a big supporter of families! One can easily tell from all the policies the country has in place available for both parents, the great health system, the qualitative education system, and the tax system that is designed to better support families. Here’s everything you need to know about just one of those policies: parental leave in Germany.

What does this exactly mean for people who are planning on starting a family here?
Put down your mug, watch out so you don’t choke, and brace yourself: in Germany, parents get 3 years of parental leave. Each parent. Per child. Which can be taken separately or simultaneously. Until the child is 8 years old. Germany is so cool about parenthood!

Let’s take it from the top.

What is parental leave?

Parental leave is typically an unpaid break from work offered to new parents, designed for them to be able to care for their children. As mentioned above, it can be up to 3 years, simultaneously or split between the 2 parents, as any of the parents can decide to also work part-time.

Even if the parental leave is not paid by the employer, new parents can apply for the parental allowance.

Bonus: Your job is protected while you’re taking time to raise your newborn. Most often you’ll be able to return to the exact same position you had before leaving.

Can you register for parental leave?

You can register for the parental allowance earliest on the day of the child’s birth and can be paid 3 months retroactively. This is paid for min. 2 months and max. 12 months (14 months for single parents). The parental allowance is valid when you fulfil the following conditions:
• You have a work contract in Germany
• You are registered in Germany
• You live with your child
• You are your child’s caretaker
• You don’t work at all or not more than 32h per week.

If you have a foreign nationality, you can request for parental allowance if:
• They are your biological child
• They are your stepchild through marriage
• They are your adopted child
• They are your foster child
• In special cases, your niece/nephew, sister, or brother

The parental allowance can be between min. EUR 300 and max. EUR 1,800/month maximum. The rule is that one will receive up to 65% of their net income or max. EUR 1,800.

If you are self-employed, the allowance is calculated based on your income for the past 12 calendar months before your child’s birth. If you plan to still work during your parental leave, you can put in max. 30h/week and the allowance will be calculated against the net income. You can use this calculator here for the parental allowance for self-employed parents.

Bonus: Bavaria only

This is available only in Bavaria, since August 1st, 2018, for children between 12-36 months old.
The family receives, regardless of income, for each of the first two children, EUR 250/month, tax-free. For the third child onwards, the allowance is EUR 300/month.

You cannot take parental leave if: you are a university student, intern, or unemployed.

How can you apply for parental leave?

You will need to inform your employer of your decision, in writing, at least 7 weeks before your planned leave. You can find a template letter right here. Your employer should also answer your request with a letter.

Can you get fired & can you quit?

The short answer is that no, you cannot get fired, as your job is protected during your parental leave. However, there are some exceptions to this, such as the company going bankrupt or you breaking the terms and conditions of your contract somehow.

Your job is also protected if you take parental leave while still being in the probation period. If the probation period will be extended for the time you are on parental leave depends on your work contract, as there is no general rule.

Your employer can end your employment at the end of your parental leave while respecting the terms and conditions of your contract, most often it being a 3 months notice.

But can you quit? Yes, yes you can. Once again, while respecting your contract.

Parental leave is a great opportunity for both parents to be actively present in the first years of a child. How a family decides to organise their parental leave is totally up to them and the agreement they have with their employer.

What is it like for dads?

More often than not, the person giving birth will chose to take parental leave and dedicate themselves to raising the children. But how about the dads? Where are they in this scheme? We did say that the policy is available for both parent, but do both of them take it? Here is an insight.


 What is it like for expats?

As with most things, expats seem to have a league all for themselves when it comes to approaching life in a different country. Melina shares her experience in the video below. 


 Take outs 

Parental leave is a great opportunity for both parents to be actively present in the first years of a child. How a family decides to organise their parental leave is totally up to them and the agreement they have with their employer. 

Remember that parental leave is a voluntary unpaid work break. If you wish to receive financial support, you should apply for the parental allowance.

And the most important, remember to make the choice that makes the most sense for you and your family and to enjoy time with your children.