In Germany, the State helps parents raise their children through two important benefits: Parental allowance (Elterngeld) and parental leave.
As a parent in Germany, you are entitled to receive parental benefit if you meet the following conditions:
- if you are taking care of your child/children by yourself and are not working for more than 30 hours per week;
- if you are living together with your child/children in one household; and
- if you are a German resident.
If you have had a baby, you are entitled to parental leave so that you can look after your child whilst maintaining contact with your working life.
If you are an employee in Germany, you are entitled to parental leave until your child 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.
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 from 1st July 2015 onwards, parents can claim up to 24 months of parental leave between the ages of two and seven. This parental leave must however be registered 13 weeks prior to commencement.
Elterngeld and ElterngeldPlus
As a parent of a new-born baby, you are entitled to Elterngeld – Parental Allowance. This is a state benefit allowing you to look after your child by yourself while you are in full-time work or not working at all.
Even parents who were not working before the birth are also entitled to this allowance.
For births from 1 July 2015 onwards, parental allowance is available in two variants: as a basic parental allowance (Elterngeld) 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.
Important things to know about parental allowance
- -Elterngeld/Parental allowance is roughly 2/3 of your previous income. It rangers from at least 300 euros to a maximum of 1,800 euros.
- The allowance is paid for 12 months.
- If both the mother and the father share the parental allowance, then they will together receive parental allowance for a maximum of 14 months.
- Each parent can draw a minimum of two and a maximum of 12 months’ parental allowance.
- 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.
- 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.
- Whoever holds a settlement permit automatically qualifies for parental allowance.
- If you are a holder of a residence permit, you only qualify for parental allowance if you are entitled to work in Germany.
How to apply for Elterngeld and ElterngeldPlus
You must apply for parental allowance in writing. The Federal Länder have set up parental allowance offices for this purpose.
For further information about parental allowance, please contact the following offices in your area:
- the town, local and municipal authorities
- family counselling offices
- parental allowance offices
The above article is prepared using information provided by the Office of Migration and Refugees (BAMF)