What is maternity leave?

Maternity protection is a law that aims to protect the working mother and her child during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The aim of the Maternity Protection Act is to preserve the health of mother and child and to prevent any professional disadvantage that might arise from pregnancy. Women on maternity leave may not be dismissed.

The Maternity Protection Act is independent of the length of the employment relationship, citizenship or type of work. According to Section 1 of the Maternity Protection Act (MuschG), all women who are in an apprenticeship or employment relationship and female students are subject to maternity protection. Special regulations apply to state and municipal employees.

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What does maternity leave include?

In addition to the period of protection during which no work is carried out, maternity protection includes measures that serve the safety and health of mother and child at work. Expectant mothers also enjoy protection against dismissal.

The employer is responsible for setting up the pregnant woman's workplace in such a way that she is protected from any health hazard.A seat should be offered for long standing activities. With permanent sedentary work, the mother should be given the opportunity to rest. The employer is obliged to release pregnant women for visits to the doctor. Catching up on this free time is not expected.

The following activities may not be carried out by the pregnant woman:

  • Piecework or work with increased work pace and flow work with a prescribed work pace

  • Night work (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.)

  • Operation of devices and machines with high foot strain

  • Removal of bark and bark

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  • Mining underground

  • Lifting more than five kilograms or occasional lifting of more than ten kilograms

  • Dealing with harmful substances such as carcinogenic, toxic or teratogenic substances

  • Work in which one is exposed to ionizing radiation, dust, gases, vibrations, heat, cold, moisture or noise

  • Work in which constrained postures are assumed (stretching, bending, stooping, squatting)

  • Activities involving contact with bio-hazardous substances and Toxoplasma and the rubella virus

  • Working in rooms with overpressure or reduced oxygen content

  • from the 3rd month of pregnancy work on means of transport such as buses or taxis

  • From the 5th month of pregnancy standing work that lasts longer than four hours

Duration of maternity leave

When does maternity leave begin?

As soon as an employee learns of her pregnancy, she is obliged to inform the employer of this and the estimated due date. This reports this to the supervisory authority and the maternity protection applies. The employer may not pass this information on to third parties. Evidence from the doctor or midwife may be requested from the mother-to-be.

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How long does maternity leave run?

As part of maternity protection, there is a so-called protection period, which is basically 14 weeks: the mother-to-be is no longer allowed to work the last 6 weeks before the planned due date and the first 8 weeks afterwards.

What are the maternity leave periods?

The maternity protection period usually begins 6 weeks before the determined due date and ends 8 weeks after the delivery. In the case of premature birth or multiple births or in the case of confirmed disability of the newborn, the period of protection is extended to 12 weeks after the birth.

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What applies to twins or a premature birth?

In the case of multiple pregnancies (e.g. twins), the mother is responsible for extending the maternity leave to twelve weeks after delivery. In the case of a premature birth, the maternity leave is extended by the period that the mother could not take before the delivery.

You might also be interested in: Premature birth

Maternity allowance

What's this?

The general rule is that an employee receives a maximum of € 13 per day from the health insurance company during the protection period and for the day of delivery. The amount actually paid out is based on the average net salary of the last 3 months. If the average net salary is less than € 390 per month, only the health insurance company will pay the costs; if it is higher, then the employer will also contribute.

Every employed mother-to-be who has statutory or private health insurance is entitled to maternity protection. Self-employed but voluntarily legally insured pregnant women also receive maternity protection benefits. Women who change from a civil servant to an employee relationship during the protection period or whose employment relationship has been terminated during the protection period are also entitled to maternity benefit.

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Apply for maternity leave

The maternity allowance is requested from the pregnant woman's health insurance company. The application can be submitted no earlier than seven weeks before the expected delivery date. The doctor's certificate should not be older than a week. Alternatively, an application can be submitted online with additional documents on the website of the Bundesversicherungsanstalt www.mutterschaftsgeld.de/.

More on this: Maternity protection

Maternity leave calculator

The maternity protection calculator enables the daily maternity benefit to be calculated during the protection period before the expected due date. To calculate the maternity allowance, the monthly net salary that was earned in the last three months before the start of the protection period is decisive.

Questions about the workplace

What influence does maternity leave have on working hours?

A pregnant woman outside the protection period can work up to 8.5 hours a day. Furthermore, night work from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. is not permitted for a woman on maternity leave.

When does the employment ban come about?

Expectant mothers must not be employed if the life and health of the mother or child is endangered by the work. Pregnant women are not allowed to work in the six weeks before the due date, unless they expressly agree to do so. The declaration can be withdrawn at any time. In addition, the employer must release the pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother from work if he cannot provide adequate framework conditions.

Read on below:

  • Employment prohibition during pregnancy
  • Rubella during pregnancy

Termination despite maternity leave

Protection against dismissal is an important aspect of the Maternity Protection Act. The protection against dismissal applies from the time of notification to the employer:

  • four months after a miscarriage that occurred after the twelfth week of pregnancy

  • up to four months after the birth

A breach of duty by the mother is an exception. Another example would be the bankruptcy of a company.
If the employer should still give notice of termination, an action against the ineffective termination can be filed in the labor court within three weeks.

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You might also be interested in:

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  • Prohibition of employment during pregnancy
  • Parental allowance
  • Birth preparation course
  • What happens in the 1st trimester?
  • What happens in the 2nd trimester?
  • What happens in the 3rd trimester?

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  • Anesthesia-Online 
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