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Maternity Leave and Job Security: What to Know in Germany

Pregnancy not only disrupts a woman’s personal life but also significantly influences her professional life. The Kununu comparison portal has gathered crucial information for women navigating pregnancy in the workplace. What rights do pregnant women hold at work? Are there professions where employment is restricted? Is it against the rules to inquire about pregnancy during a job interview in Germany?

When should you inform your employer about your pregnancy?

In Germany, as an individual subject to social security contributions, you possess several rights during pregnancy. As per § 15 MuSchG (Maternity Protection Act), it is advised that a woman promptly informs her employer about her pregnancy and the anticipated date of delivery once she becomes aware of it. If requested by the employer, the woman should provide a medical or midwife’s certificate confirming the pregnancy, including the expected delivery date.
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Rights of a pregnant woman in Germany

Foremost, ensuring that your workplace is safe for both your health and the well-being of your child is crucial. If your current job poses risks to the health of the expectant mother and baby, the company is obligated, under sections 11 and 12, to provide you with an alternative position. Failure to offer a suitable alternative may result in the possibility of being prohibited from working during pregnancy.

Expectant mothers are entitled to six to eight weeks of maternity leave both before and after giving birth. During this period, they receive maternity benefits, known as Mutterschaftsgeld.” Eligibility and the amount of maternity benefits depend on the type and extent of health insurance coverage and the woman’s earnings before taking maternity leave. Maternity benefits are specifically available to women with statutory health insurance who are entitled to sickness benefits. These benefits are disbursed for periods of maternity protection (Mutterschaftschutz) and include the day of delivery.
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Parental leave

Female employees working in Germany or abroad for a German employer have the right to parental leave. Parental leave enables individuals to temporarily interrupt their professional activities or reduce working hours to attend to their child. While on parental leave, employees do not receive regular remuneration; however, they may be eligible for parental benefits during this period. It’s important to note that employees cannot be terminated during parental leave. Instead, the employment relationship is temporarily suspended, and upon completion of the leave, the employee retains the right to return to their previous position.

Work ban for pregnant women

The work ban (ZP) for pregnant individuals is categorized into two types: general work ban and an individual work ban.
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General work ban

The general employment ban is grounded in the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG). To safeguard pregnant women, certain activities deemed potentially harmful must be avoided. If employers are unable to provide alternative tasks, they are obligated to restrict your employment in these specific activities.

Individual work ban

Your gynecologist has the authority to issue an individual BV (Beschäftigungsverbot or employment ban) if the working conditions pose a potential threat to your or your baby’s health. This situation may arise, for instance, if you work as a waitress and are unable to stand for extended periods due to a high-risk pregnancy. In such cases, the individual employment ban will address specific health concerns and ensure the well-being of both the expectant mother and the child.

As highlighted on the Kununu website, there are various reasons why you may face a work ban during pregnancy. In certain specific situations, an official employment ban can be imposed. This ban is not contingent on your health condition but is instead issued by the relevant supervisory authority associated with your profession. Such bans are implemented independently of individual health considerations to ensure compliance with specific regulations and standards.

Discuss the topic of pregnancy during a job interviews
Discuss the topic of pregnancy during a job interviews

Professions covered by official work bans

Here are selected professions and industries in which you cannot work as a pregnant woman unless your employer finds safe tasks for you:

  • Preschoolers
  • Couriers
  • Warehouse workers
  • Laboratory workers in contact with hazardous substances
  • Stewardesses
  • assembly line workers

Pregnancy and job interviews

In Germany, asking about pregnancy during a job interview is prohibited to prevent discrimination, as outlined in Article 7 of the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG). However, the practical implementation of this regulation may vary.
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While the law prohibits such inquiries to ensure equal treatment, concealing information about pregnancy could potentially affect the relationship between you and your prospective employer. Depending on your specific circumstances, it may be worthwhile to discuss the topic of pregnancy during a job interview and explore possible solutions collaboratively. Open communication can help establish understanding and pave the way for mutually agreeable arrangements.

Is part-time work allowed for pregnant women?

It’s indeed possible to work part-time while pregnant; however, the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG) sets certain limits. According to this act, you are allowed to work an average of 8.5 hours per day. In practical terms, if you are employed by two different companies (e.g., one for 40 hours a week and another for five hours a week), both employers are required to coordinate with each other. After consulting with you, they will jointly determine where adjustments can be made to shorten your working hours. This coordination ensures that you can work part-time without being automatically barred. This allows for flexibility while maintaining compliance with legal regulations.