Your rights during and after pregnancy


To protect pregnant and breastfeeding women, the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG) contains certain regulations for employees that apply several weeks before and after childbirth. Schoolchildren, interns, trainees and students are now also entitled to maternity leave. Here you can find out what is important for expectant mothers and new mothers now.

Mother playing with baby
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Who does maternity leave apply to?

The Maternity Protection Act affects, among other things, the following areas at work and training:

  • Protection of health
  • Special protection against termination
  • Prohibition of employment in the weeks before and after the birth
  • Securing the income

The regulations apply to:

  • Part-time workers
  • Marginally employed
  • Domestic servants
  • Apprentices and interns (for compulsory internships)
  • Volunteer service providers
  • Member of a spiritual cooperative
  • Disabled workers in workshops

What is important is a contract that regulates the training or employment relationship in Germany. Citizenship does not matter. Special protective measures also apply if you are still a school pupil, even if you do not do any regular work. For example, you can be absent from compulsory events, exams or internships in order to protect yourself and your (unborn) child without this having a negative impact on your teaching or studies. In addition, there is often financial support for female and male students, which you have to apply for yourself.

Self-employed mother with baby
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The law does not take into account the self-employed, housewives, shareholders and managing directors. So you have to take care of yourself and take care of the necessary protection for yourself and your offspring.

How long does maternity leave last?

In the challenging phase at the end of pregnancy and in the first time after the birth, you are entitled to maternity leave. The maternity protection period begins 6 weeks before the calculated due date and usually ends 8 weeks after the birth – and is accompanied by a ban on employment.

At your own request, you can still work before the birth, if your state of health allows it. Thereafter, the exemption is mandatory. Only schoolgirls and students are allowed to go back to work immediately if they want to while breastfeeding.

The maternity leave after childbirth is extended to a total of 12 weeks if you give birth to twins or multiple babies. Mothers of children with disabilities can also apply for this extension from the health insurance company.

How much money do I get on maternity leave?

During this time, the statutory health insurances pay their members who are entitled to sick pay, the so-called maternity protection allowance. The amount is based on your wages in the last few months and is a maximum of 13 euros per day. The employer pays the difference to your average net wage. You can read all regulations, deadlines and obligations in this detailed guide on the subject of maternity leave.

If you have family or private insurance, the employer will continue to pay your wages – but without the 13 euros per day. In addition, you are entitled to a one-off payment of 210 euros from the Federal Insurance Office. With the maternity protection calculator you can calculate your maternity protection yourself.

Can you be terminated on maternity leave?

Basically no. Nobody can quit you because you are pregnant or have just become a mother. A termination is only possible in exceptional cases, namely if

  • the company is insolvent.
  • the operation is partially shut down.
  • you work in a small business and the business cannot continue without a qualified replacement.
  • you have seriously violated the employment contract.
Woman with application portfolio
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Incidentally, the question of whether you are pregnant is not allowed in the interview – in such a case you are even allowed to lie. However, if you have an ongoing employment relationship, you should inform your employer about a pregnancy at an early stage. So you are on the safe side even in the event of a miscarriage.

Assistance in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth

There is also support in the worst-case scenario. Important: From a legal point of view, a distinction is made between miscarriage and stillbirth. After a miscarriage, if the baby weighs less than 500 grams or if the baby is born before the 24th week of pregnancy, you will not receive any maternity protection allowance. Even so, the loss can hit you so badly that you are unable to work. Then get sick leave in order to receive continued payment in the event of illness. The special protection against dismissal still applies.

With a birth weight of more than 500 grams or a delivery from the 24th week of pregnancy, on the other hand, one speaks of a stillbirth. Then the general protection period applies after childbirth, so that you are entitled to maternity protection with the employer’s allowance. You are only allowed to go back to work at your express request and when you are healthy enough. The special protection against dismissal applies.

Special cases: Go on maternity leave early or voluntarily waive it

Assembly line work, heavy lifting and working with substances that are hazardous to health such as poisonous gases are considered to be particularly stressful and are taboo for pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is also a maximum daily working time, which depends on your age. Working overtime all the time – that’s not possible during pregnancy.

The employer must design your workplace in such a way that the activity does not pose any risk to you or your child. If you wish, you can continue to work until the birth and thus voluntarily waive maternity leave until the child arrives.

However, if the employer does not meet his obligations during your pregnancy and you cannot be transferred to a suitable position, the employment ban applies. In such a case, the responsible supervisory authority can also issue an employment ban, so that you are exempted. In addition, a medical certificate can ensure that you go on maternity leave early. You are still entitled to your salary.

Maternity leave and parental leave

If you take parental leave immediately after the birth, the protection against dismissal is extended until the parental leave expires. It is important that the 8-week maternity protection period is offset against parental leave. This means that the first day of work – with 3 years of parental leave in a row – is the 3rd birthday of your child.

However, you can work for a while after the maternity leave period in order to take the full 36 possible months of parental leave.

Right to exemption for preventive examinations

The check-up dates are important. The best thing to do is to take care of them early and arrange them so that they do not collide with the roster. If you do not get a timely appointment for the check-ups outside of working hours, the employer will have to give you time off. It is best to speak to the HR department in advance to avoid possible disputes.

Vorsorgeuntersuchung U Heft
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In principle, the entire time that you spend must be taken into account with such an exemption. In addition to the actual time in the doctor’s office, you will also be released for travel time, for example. The employer may request a corresponding proof from the doctor.

Does maternity leave also apply to fixed-term employment contracts?

As long as the employment relationship runs as agreed, maternity protection also applies to fixed-term contracts. However, if the employment relationship ends, maternity leave also ends.

Special features in corona times

Due to customer traffic or inadequate protective measures in the open-plan office, an increased risk of infection for pregnant women cannot be ruled out in Corona times. Working from home is a solution to avoid this “irresponsible risk” for pregnant women. Nevertheless, as a pregnant woman, you are not automatically entitled to work from home. In principle, a single office or other activity without customer contact would also be possible.

Good to know: During short-time work, you will receive full payments from maternity and parental allowances.


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