Apply for parental leave: 16 important information for the first steps

Apply for parental leave: 16 important information for the first steps

If you become a father or mother, you can temporarily stop working to take care of the child with parental leave. With the changes from 2015, parental leave has become significantly more flexible, but there is a lot to consider in detail. We answer the 16 most important questions about parental leave.

Parental leave is an important right for all expectant parents. However, financial and legal support is linked to a number of conditions and deadlines that beneficiaries should keep in mind.

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How long is parental leave??

Parental leave can last until the child’s third birthday, for a total of up to 36 months. One parent can take this time alone, or both can divide it up freely. Parental leave has become even more flexible since 2015: You can now take up to 24 months of parental leave even after your child’s third birthday. And this is how it works: In the first three years of the child’s life, you have to "consume" at least twelve months of parental leave. The rest of the time you can take up to the child’s eighth birthday if necessary.

What does parental leave mean to me??

The employment relationship is suspended during parental leave and then revived. This means: the employer must release you during this time and then hire you again under the conditions specified in the employment contract. There is no wage from the employer during this time, so the financing has to work differently. Fathers and mothers can finance part of it through parental allowance.

Who can take parental leave as a mother or father?

Who can take parental leave as a mother or father?

Employees can take parental leave in the following circumstances:

  • You take care of your biological child.
  • You take care of the child of your life partner.
  • You care for a foster child in full-time care.
  • You take care of an adoptive child. This also applies if the adoption process has not yet been completed.
  • You are caring for a child for whom you, as a father, have applied for paternity status or recognition. The right also applies if the application has not yet been decided.
  • You are taking care of your grandchild because one of the child’s parents is under the age of 18 or is still in an education that he or she started before their 18th birthday. In such a case, it is a prerequisite that the child’s parents do not take parental leave themselves.
  • You look after a closely related child, for example your brother or sister, your grandson or great-grandson, your niece or nephew. This is possible if the parents cannot take care of it. In such a case, special circumstances must exist, for example a serious illness, a severe disability or the death of the parents.

Application for parental leave: the requirements

In order to apply for parental leave, some conditions must be met:

  • You live in Germany.
  • You live with the child in the household.
  • You take care of and raise your child yourself.
  • You are employed. (Self-employed are not entitled to parental leave.)
  • You do not work at all on parental leave or only work for a maximum of 30 hours per week.

What does parental allowance mean??

To at least partially compensate for the loss of income, you can apply for federal parental benefit. It is income-related and is available to you for twelve months while you are on parental leave. If both partners take parental leave, the entitlement to parental allowance increases to 14 months. You decide how the parental allowance months are divided between the parents. If you want to start working part-time after the parental leave, you can extend the parental allowance period with the ElterngeldPlus by dividing the parental allowance months.

When do I have to apply for parental leave??

When do I have to apply for parental leave??

Parental leave must be applied for at least seven weeks before the start. For mothers on maternity leave, this means that the application for parental leave must be submitted to the employer within one week of the birth. If fathers want to take parental leave immediately after birth, they are based on the calculated date of birth. In many cases, parental leave can be flexibly adjusted when the actual birthday is known. Talk to your employer about this beforehand.

Important: For parental leave months that are taken between the child’s third and eighth birthday, the application deadline is earlier: In this case, you must submit your application 13 weeks before the start of parental leave.

In urgent cases there may be shorter deadlines. This is necessary, for example, if a child is born prematurely as a premature baby. In this case, simply submit your application as soon as possible.

I have protection against dismissal during parental leave?

I have protection against dismissal during parental leave?

The employer is prohibited from giving notice during parental leave. This begins with the application for parental leave, but at the earliest eight weeks before the start of parental leave. With parental leave between the child’s third and eighth birthday, protection against dismissal begins 14 weeks before the start of parental leave at the earliest.

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Submitting the application too early is therefore not worthwhile and, in the worst case, can lead to disadvantages because the protection against dismissal may not yet apply. Therefore, apply as early as possible seven or 13 weeks before the start of parental leave.

However, there are some exceptions to the ban on dismissal. The employer can also give notice of termination during parental leave if:

  • the company or individual parts of the company are shut down,
  • the worker has committed serious crimes,
  • the employee has seriously violated his contractual obligations,
  • the existence of the company would be endangered by the continuation of the employment relationship.

In all of these cases, the employer must have the exception to the termination approved by the body responsible for occupational safety and health.

Can I return to my previous job after parental leave??

Can I return to my previous job after parental leave??

Your employer is obliged to keep you busy after the end of parental leave, in the same employment and wage group as before. The weekly working hours may not change either, unless at the employee’s request. So there must be no negative changes in payment.

But that doesn’t mean that you get exactly your previous job back. You could be assigned to a different department and assigned other tasks. Even the location can change. As long as the new workplace is comparable to the old one, you have little influence on it. However, it is very often also possible to use them again in the old workplace.

By the way: company changes that were decided during your upbringing and apply to all employees also apply to you.

What influence does parental leave have on my vacation entitlement??

Your parental leave is usually reduced during parental leave: for each month of parental leave, it is reduced by one twelfth of the annual leave. However, the employer must explicitly state that this reduction will take place. If he has not made this declaration by the end of the employment relationship, the full vacation entitlement will remain.

If you are on parental leave for only part of a month, the vacation entitlement for that month does not decrease. If you still have leave, it does not expire. This regulation is independent of the usual regulations for rest leave with your employer. You can still take the remaining vacation that you are entitled to at the beginning of your parental leave after returning to the employer. If your employment ends while you are on parental leave, you will receive the remaining vacation.

Prolonged parental leave due to illness?

If you get sick, it does not affect the length of parental leave. At most, there can be exceptions for serious, long-lasting illnesses.

Who pays my health insurance on parental leave??

Whether and how your health insurance contributions are covered depends on the type of insurance you have:

  • If you are compulsorily insured in a statutory health insurance company, you will be exempt from contributions on parental leave. You do not have to pay any contributions during this time, as long as you are not working and do not receive any contributions that are subject to contributions.
  • If you are voluntarily insured in a statutory health insurance company, it looks different: Here you usually have to continue to pay the contributions even during parental leave. However, the lower income can make them significantly cheaper. If you are married and your spouse is insured by a statutory health insurance company, you can apply for family insurance for which there are no additional costs. Find out from your health insurance company in good time what options there are for you and what the costs will be during parental leave.
  • If you are privately insured, you usually have to pay your health insurance contributions yourself during parental leave. However, some insurance companies offer tariffs in which you can apply for non-contributory periods of six to twelve months. Contact your insurance company early to discuss the options.

Can I still work during parental leave??

Can I still work during parental leave??

You do not have to quit working life entirely on parental leave. You can also request parental leave and work up to 30 hours a week. After the end of the parental part-time, the previous weekly working time applies again. However, you are not entitled to part-time work; this is not possible in every profession. In general, the larger your company, the higher the chances that there is a flexible solution for you.

You can also make yourself available in your company for occasional temporary and replacement work. In this way, you do not completely lose contact with your colleagues and customers and you can easily get back to work at the end of your parental leave.

Incidentally, you can also work for another employer during parental leave as long as your weekly working hours do not exceed 30 hours. This is particularly interesting if you want to use the time to reorient yourself professionally. In order to work for another employer or self-employed during parental leave, you have to submit an application to your current employer four weeks in advance. However, he can only reject the application with good reason, for example if he himself offers a part-time job for the same position and urgently needs support.

In general, however, the following applies: Income during parental leave has an impact on parental allowance. It is therefore important to calculate precisely whether the work is really worthwhile during this time.

May I attend further training during parental leave??

Using parental leave for further training is a good idea. For example, you can take part in in-house training courses or deepen your professional skills in adult education courses. Distance learning is also possible during parental leave.

Can I extend current parental leave??

If you have not yet taken full parental leave, you can apply for an extension. If your child is not yet three years old, you can apply for the extension in good time, 13 weeks in advance. If you take parental leave between your child’s third and eighth birthday, you have determined in advance when you want to take parental leave in the next two years.

If you now plan an extension, your employer must agree. In important cases, you can obtain an extension against the will of your employer. This is possible, for example, if it was planned that the other parent would take parental leave after you and this is not possible for an important reason.

Can I prematurely cancel the current parental leave??

Abort parental leave – for example if you are pregnant again

If you want to shorten your parental leave, i.e. end it early, you have to ask your employer for consent. There are exceptions under certain conditions:

  • A woman who gets pregnant again during parental leave can end parental leave early to take maternity leave. In such a case, inform your employer, but you do not need their consent. As a father, you can also apply for an early end to parental leave if you have another child during your parental leave. In this case, the employer’s consent is required. However, he can only reject the application for urgent operational reasons and only within four weeks.
  • Severe cases of hardship can also be a reason for early termination of parental leave. This is the case, for example, if your economic existence is at risk or if a parent or child has a serious illness or disability or even died. In this case too, the employer can only reject the application for urgent operational reasons and also only within four weeks.

May we use parental leave to travel?

How you use your parental leave is entirely up to you. Maybe you just want to spend more time together or be able to take care of your child at home in the best possible way. Many families also use parental leave to travel. There is nothing wrong with that. Use the time that is best for you and your family.

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