Statutory maternity leave—Mutterschutz
The scope of the protection of working mothers act (Gesetz zum Schutze der erwerbstätigen Mutter, MuSchG) was expanded on 1 January 2018, to include female students alongside pregnant working women and nursing mothers, providing that training requires the student to be at a certain place at certain times and for certain activities. The expanded act is now known as the protection of mothers at work and during training or studies act (Gesetz zum Schutz von Müttern bei der Arbeit, in der Ausbildung und im Studium, MuSchG). There are, however, special conditions for students taking statutory maternity leave. In particular, students can waive the period of protection following delivery. Students should notify the University of a pregnancy as soon as possible to ensure they enjoy their full protection rights pursuant to MuSchG and that the University can implement the necessary protection measures. Contact your academic office to notify the University of your pregnancy and if you have further questions or need information. See this overview for a list of academic offices.
The Document Mutterschutzregelung (Infomationen für Studentinnen)(PDF, in German only) provides an overview of protective legislation for pregnant and nursing women and its implementation at Universität Hamburg.
Students who are working part-time in addition to studying are also subject to the Protection of Working Mothers Act (Mutterschutzgesetz). Statutory maternity leave must be granted irrespective of the type and scope of work, the employment contract, citizenship, or familial status. Part-timers and student assistants also have a right to statutory maternity leave. If your employer refuses to grant you the statutory maternity leave period, we recommend that you contact the personnel or staff council in your company, or seek legal advice from the AStA.
During the period of statutory maternity leave following the birth (i.e., 8 or 12 weeks for premature births), expectant mothers are subject to absolute employment prohibition. This is not the case during the six weeks prior to the birth. Mothers-to-be who expressly wish to work during this time may do so.
Expectant mothers may be required to carry out tasks in the course of their studies or in a student job that the law expressly forbids them from doing. For further information and precise legislation in this matter, please consult the Leitfaden zum Mutterschutzgesetz des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Guidelines on the Protection of Working Mothers Act, PDF, in German only).
Mothers-to-be can at any time during pregnancy be prohibited from employment on the basis of a medical assessment. This prohibition may, in certain circumstances, only apply to certain tasks previously carried out by the expectant mother.
Financial support during statutory maternity leave
Students who belong to a state health insurance scheme and are or were employed during their pregnancy are elibigle for maternity benefit from their health insurer. Maternity benefit is determined according to the net pay of the last three calendar months and, depending on how much you earn, this amount is topped up by your employer. Please apply directly to your health insurer for maternity benefit.
You will find further information in the Leitfaden des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend zum Mutterschutzgesetz (Guidelines, PDF, in German only).
Protection from dismissal
Legal protection from dismissal commences with the beginning of a pregnancy and ends four months after delivery. Those who take parental leave enjoy protection from dismissal until the end of their period of parental leave. This is also the case for those working part-time.
If your contract is short-term, you are protected from dismissal during the period of your contract.
Statutory maternity leave
Statutory maternity leave is the period during which mothers-to-be and new mothers are prohibited from employment, is as follows:
- Commences six weeks prior to the birth and ends eight weeks following the birth.
- In the case of premature or multiple births, this period is extended to twelve weeks following delivery.
- In the case of premature births, the period of statutory maternity leave is extended additionally by the lenth of time during the six weeks prior to delivery that the mother was unable to take off. For example, if your child arrived 20 days prior to the expected date of delivery, your period of statutory maternity leave following the birth would be extended to 12 weeks (due to prematurity) and 20 days.
If the period of statutory maternity leave is extended, so is your eligibility for maternity pay.
If your contract is short-term, your statutory maternity leave is guaranteed within the period of your contract.
You can find some further information on materinity leave in the document "Statutory maternal protection leave (Mutterschutz) before and after giving birth" (PDF).