Mutterschutz—statutory maternity leave
As mother-to-be, you enjoy particular protection during pregnancy and following the birth of your child. We have gathered the most important information on applying for statutory maternity leave before your due date (Mutterschutz), your rights pertaining to protection against unlawful dismissal and employment prohibitions, as well as on questions relating to financial support.
Applying for statutory maternity leave (Mutterschutz)—what you need to do
The Statutory Maternity Leave Act (Mutterschutzgesetz) does not specify when you must inform your employer of your pregnancy. However, an employer is only then able to comply if he or she knows about a pregnancy. Important information you can find in the guideline "Statutory maternal protection leave (Mutterschutz) before and after giving birth" (PDF).
- The first step is to inform your department and staff members at Department 6: Human Resources that you are pregnant. You may do so either in writing or verbally.
- Let Section 64 know the expected due date. The first day of your statutory maternity leave (Mutterschutz) will be calculated according to this date. Statutory maternity leave incorporates both the period prior to and following the birth, during which time you are not allowed to work (employment prohibition). Exception: During the last six weeks before the due date you may work if you explicitly declare yourself prepared to work. You may revoke this declaration at any time.
- The Personnel Department will provide you with information and forms that you must fill out and return.
- Directly prior to the commencement of your statutory maternity leave, you must submit an attest detailing the definitive due date from either a midwife or an obstetrician to the Personnel Department. This attest may also be your Mutterpass (booklet provided by your midwife or obstetrician containing records of antenatal and postnatal checkups, as well as of the delivery).
- Personnel will recalculate your maternity leave dates according to this new date and inform you of the definitive commencement of your statutory maternity leave.
Substitutes during statutory maternity leave
A replacement can be already be hired during statutory maternity leave and be retained throughout the subsequent parental leave. Contact HR staff if you have more questions.
Professors must first ascertain what kind of replacement is most suitable. A replacement could, for example, take on specific teaching duties. Professors seeking a replacement during their statutory maternity leave can submit an application to the Equal Opportunity Commissioner for funding from the equal opportunity fund.
Financial support during statutory maternity leave
As an employee, you receive maternity pay during the period of statutory maternity leave Mutterschutz (known also as the Mutterschutzfrist) from your health insurance. Your employer supplements this maternity pay so that you are guaranteed your full income (average income of the three months prior to statutory maternity leave). Should you be prohibited from working before your statutory maternity leave commences, your employer continues to pay your salary. Find out more from the Leitfaden des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend zum Mutterschutzgesetz (Guidelines on the Protection of Mothers Act issued by the Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, in German only).
If you are a civil servant, you will continue to recieve your salary during the period of statutory maternity leave.
The Protection of Mothers Act (Mutterschutzgesetz) applies to all mothers in employment. Special rules apply to civil servants, and these are codified in the laws on civil service. Whether your are an employee or a civil servant, the following rights apply to you in every case:
- The prohibition on employment applies to the six weeks prior to and the eight weeks following the birth. Should you give birth before your due date, the period of time between the actual birth and the due date will be added onto the end of the period of employment prohibtition. In the case of multiple and premature births, this period of statutory maternity leave (Mutterschutzfrist) is extended for medical reasons from eight to twelve weeks.
- As a mother-to-be, you may also be subject to employment prohibition or restrictions (Beschäftigungsverbot) prior to the period of statutory maternity leave if a medical assessment indicates that the life or health of either mother or child would be endangered should the mother continue in her employment.
- Dismissal from employment is, with only few exceptions, unlawful from the beginning of a pregnancy to the end of the fourth month after birth. This means that employers are not permitted to dismiss you during your statutory maternity leave, even if the date of dismissal is after the end of the preiod of statutory maternity leave. A short-term contract, however, need not be extended by the period of statutory maternity leave.
Are you in particular danger in your place of employment?
- ...because you work shifts?
- ...because you are subject to increased exposure to infection (e.g., via close contact to children and teenagers)?
- ...because you work with hazardous substances?
- ...because you are required to lift and carry loads of five kilograms or more?
Then you have the right to special protection in your place of employment. Further information on the Website of Universität Hamburg - AGUM e.V. (in German only).
Discuss individual protective measures for your place of work in your department and inform yourself further by reading the Merkblatt des Arbeitsmedizinischen Dienstes zum Mutterschutz (Pamphlet issued by the University Occupational Medical Service on maternity leave - PDF, in German only).
If you have specific questions, please consult the physicians at the University Occupational Medical Service.
...and after statutory maternal leave? Parental leave
The baby has arrived? Now you have the opportunity to take parental leave. If you would like to take parental leave directly following your statutory maternity leave, please let your employer know early on. You must notify your employer that you intend to take parental leave seven weeks before you plan to do so.
- Further information is available in the broschure "Elterngeld und Elternzeit" (PDF, in German only) published by the Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and on the Family Services webpages on parental leave und parental pay.