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Germany: New conditions for calculating the Elterngeld childcare allowance due to the coronavirus crisis

Due to the coronavirus pandemic in Germany, the conditions for calculating and paying out the Elterngeld childcare allowance have been changed. 

The Federal Ministry for Family, Elderly, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend- BMFSFJ) has published the most important information on the applicable payment conditions in the form of questions and answers:

Questions and answers regarding changes in payment of the Elterngeld childcare allowance

I am pregnant and my husband and I lose income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Will this have a negative impact on our childcare allowance later?

No. When calculating parental benefit, it is possible to exclude loss of income that occurred between March 1 and December 31, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (for example, as a result of reduced working hours, vacation, unemployment or business closure). 

This means that these months are ignored and the income from previous months is used as the basis for calculating parental benefit. This also applies to people who run their own business or have both income from their own business and dependent employment. 

At the request of the claimant on Elterngeld childcare allowance, income from the entire previous calendar year may be used as the basis for calculating the benefit.
The decline in income due to the Covid-19 pandemic also includes indirect shifts in income, such as reducing working hours in favour of childcare.

I am currently receiving parental benefit. Now I have to return to work earlier than planned because I work in a systemically important profession. Will I lose my right to parental benefit or can I claim it later?

If you are in a professionally important profession, you can postpone the months of parental benefit you originally wanted to receive between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 for the post-crisis period. You can also get basic parental benefit at a later date, even if your child is over 14 months old.

When do I have to start receiving deferred parental benefit at the latest?

If you work in a systemically important profession, you can postpone the payment of parental benefit until June 30, 2021 at the latest.

I am receiving parental benefit, but have worked more than 30 hours a week in the last two months. Are these months of Parental Benefit now lost or can I postpone them?

Due to the exceptional situation and the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is possible to reverse the decisions made in the application for parental benefit, even if you have already received the benefit for several months. You can ask the Parental Benefits office to postpone your payment for up to the three previous months. Amounts paid are either refunded or deducted from any subsequent entitlement to parental benefit.

We are planning a second child. If I defer my current Parental Benefit until a later date, it may be up to twelve months before the next child is born. At that time, I would have had no income, only parental benefit. Does this have a negative effect on my parental benefit for the next child? 

Elterngeld periods can be excluded when parental benefit is calculated for the second child or an older child. This means that the income from the previous months is taken into account instead of the months in which the benefit is paid. This is usually only possible in the months when the older child was less than 14 months old. If – before your older child turned 14 months – you did not receive monthly instalments of parental benefit due to working in a systemically important occupation, but instead postponed it until after 14 months of the child’s life, these months, if you wish, can also be excluded.
This applies to both self-employed persons or with both self-employed and dependent employment income.

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What types of work are classified as systemically important?
These are the professions performed in the sector for public life, security and human care:

  • work in institutions and bodies acting for the benefit of safety and public order,
  • work to ensure public infrastructure and supplies. It covers industries such as: energy and water supply, transport and passenger traffic, as well as the maintenance of communication channels.
  • work in industries related to nutrition, goods and services that meet daily needs, health care and nursing, education and upbringing, care for children and youth, and assistance for disabled people.

The following rules will help you assess whether your business has a systemic importance:
Critical Infrastructure Ordinance under the BSI Act: Verordnung zur Bestimmung kritischer Infrastrukturen nach dem BSI-Gesetz Corona pandemie
derogation from the Working Hours Act : Verordnung zu Abweichungen vom Arbeitszeitgesetz infolge der Corona-Pandemie

If you have doubts whether your work is systemically important, you can ask about it at the Parental Benefits Office.

We have applied for a partner bonus (Partnerschaftsbonus) since fall, but we no longer know if we are still able to keep a part-time job of 25 to 30 hours. Will we therefore lose the right to this benefit?

If you are currently unable to meet the requirements of the Affiliate Bonus you applied for due to the coronavirus pandemic, you do not lose your right to receive it. When it comes to the amount of your income and working hours in the period from March 1 to December 31, 2020, only the information that you provided at the time of submitting the application is taken into account for the calculation of the partner bonus. You will receive the Partnerschaftsbonus in the amount calculated at the time of acceptance of the application.

Do the rules regarding the partnership bonus also apply to parents who do not work in systemically important professions?

Yes. The rules for awarding Partnerschaftsbonus apply to all parents.

Source: Official website of the Ministry of Family Affairs, Elderly People, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) ,