4 min. read

What to include in your Maternity Policy in Germany

Xena’s guide to creating supportive environments for parents-to-be

Having a baby is a big deal for all involved –yes, that includes you as an employer.

Today more and more women are working and double-income families have become the norm amidst the rising standard of living. The corporate world has realised that they are losing a lot of experienced talent post-maternity. For many women, the guilt of leaving their baby at home when returning to work and compromising on the basic need of nutrition can be a huge motivator to quit or take a sabbatical. In addition, government policies are making it important for workplaces to recognise this need.

Carefully considered maternity/paternity policies are not just an add-on perk but make up an essential part of an employer’s benefits package. 

We have you covered with the ABC’s of maternity/paternity policy in Germany. For both mum and dad, this guide explains what your employees are entitled to before having a baby, during leave and beyond. Also available, we have a summary of what to include in your maternity policy in the Netherlands.

Just so we’re all on the same page, a few quick definitions:

Maternity leave: leave from work for mothers in the period immediately preceding and following birth.

Paternity leave: leave from work for fathers or recognised second parents, similar to maternity leave.

Parental leave: leave after maternity/paternity leave which can be taken by either parent.

First, let’s dive into some of your legal obligations as an employer. So what’s the law in Germany? 

Eligibility for Maternity Leave

All employed mothers in Germany are entitled to maternity leave, regardless of their nationality or residency status. To be eligible for maternity leave, mothers must have been employed for at least 12 months before the expected date of birth. Additionally, mothers must have paid contributions to the German social security system for at least 90 days in the last year.

Length of Maternity Leave

Mothers in Germany are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave (Mutterschutzgesetz). Maternity leave can start up to six weeks before the expected date of birth and must start no later than the day after the birth.

Mothers who give birth to more than one child are entitled to two additional weeks of maternity leave for each additional child. Additionally, mothers of premature or disabled children may be entitled to an extension of their maternity leave.

Maternity Allowance

During maternity leave, mothers in Germany are entitled to receive maternity allowance from their health insurance provider. Maternity allowance is designed to replace a portion of the mother’s income during the leave period.

The amount of maternity allowance that mothers receive depends on their income and can range from 300 euros to a maximum of 1,800 euros per month. Maternity allowance is tax-free and is paid directly to the mother’s bank account.

The maternity allowance in Germany is determined by the mother’s income and the type of health insurance they have. Maternity pay is tax-free and is deposited directly to the employee’s bank account. Employers are not solely responsible for supporting the employee during maternity leave.

Protection Against Dismissal

In Germany, pregnant women and women on maternity leave are protected against dismissal. Employers are not allowed to terminate a woman’s employment during pregnancy or maternity leave, except in cases of gross misconduct.

Additionally, women who return to work after maternity leave are protected against dismissal for a certain period of time. This protection period varies depending on the length of the maternity leave and can range from two to six months.

Childcare Options

After maternity leave in Germany, mothers have the option to take parental leave to care for their child. Parental leave is available to both parents and can be taken until the child reaches the age of three.

During parental leave, parents are entitled to receive parental allowance, which is a financial benefit provided by the German government. Parental allowance can be received for up to 14 months and can be split between both parents.

Parental leave or Vaterschaftsurlaub

As of 2024, fathers are to be given two weeks off after the birth of a child. It will be paid leave and will be enshrined in the Maternity Protection Act. Fathers in Germany are also entitled to take parental leave, which can be taken until the child reaches the age of three. 

Once the paperwork is all sorted, next on the agenda is building an inclusive environment for mothers returning to work.

8 Ways to become a more inclusive workplace for mothers

Take a look at which companies are paving the way for women in tech.

1. Promote the resources you provide to working mothers.

To get working mothers excited about your organisation, be sure to showcase what benefits you have to offer them—from maternity leave to job sharing or part-time work. Whether you offer childcare on-site or provide financial contributions to help pay for it, this perk can go a long way toward making your company more attractive to working mothers.

2. Adjusted working or flexible hours.

You think you’re tired at work? Try growing a human. Your pregnant employee is entitled to extra breaks up to a maximum of one-eighth of her daily working time. During pregnancy and up to 6 months after giving birth, your employee may only work a maximum of 10 hours per shift. 

3. Breastfeeding at work.

You must give your employee the time and space to pump or breastfeed during the first 9 months after giving birth. The time your employee has to feed or pump is working time and must be paid accordingly. Many companies in Germany now offer workplace lactation rooms for breastfeeding employees to pump –  this is a legal requirement for all employers in the U.S. In addition to complying with labour laws, workplace lactation spaces can help improve employee satisfaction, reduce absenteeism, improve health outcomes by helping increase duration rates of breastfeeding, and serve as a physical demonstration a company’s support for working parents. 

4. Adjust childcare-related policies and programs.

Establish policies that are designed to mitigate the uneven burden on mothers, including increased childcare support and other related programmes. 

5. Take an intersectional approach.

When it comes to motherhood, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Companies should acknowledge and address the unique challenges facing mothers of colour and single mothers. 

6. Reset norms around flexibility.

Being a parent takes up a lot of time. Allowing employees to have flexible schedules helps them to do what they need to do at home without guilt, while also supporting them with their performance at work.

7. Remove bias in people processes.

To produce quality work and to be a good team member, is it always necessary to be accessible and to have a lightning-fast response time? Ensure that performance markers are relevant and not misleading. 

8. Develop supportive re-onboarding programs.

Don’t lose your talented women! Consider creating returnship programs to help women reenter the workforce gradually and successfully navigate new challenges. We’ve got you covered with our complete guide to Implementing a Successful Returnship Program. 

Looking for more? We created a resource hub to help your DEI journey. Or, take a look at our past meetup with Babbel related to navigating parenthood in tech.


Need help making your workplace more diverse?

We hire women in Engineering and Product and support companies on a journey of organisational transformation. Work with us to hire women in Engineering, Product and Leadership. 


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