On 7 November 2014 the German Bundestag passed the reform of the German Law On Parental Allowance And Parental Leave (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz – BEEG). The purpose of this reform is to improve the compatibility of work and family life for parents on a partnership basis. In essence, the main revisions – that will most likely trigger increased claims for part-time work – provide for the following:
Any parental allowance is paid by the state. The employer does not have to make any payments in this regard.
The previous parental allowance will be called “Base Parental Allowance” in the future. Its amount depends on the net income during the last 12 months before the child’s birth and is €300,00 at least and €1,800.00 at most per month. Usually the base parental allowance is between 65% and 67% of the net income during the last 12 months before the child’s birth.
The Base Parental Allowance is granted for up to 12 months and can be increased to 14 months, if the second parent also takes parental leave.
The so-called “Parental Allowance Plus” is a new possible way of making use of parental allowance. Parental Allowance Plus enables every parent to choose two months of Parental Allowance Plus instead of one month of conventional parental allowance. Therefore in future an individual parent has the choice between the use of up to 12 months of Base Parental Allowance, of up to 24 months of Parental Allowance Plus or of a combination of both forms of parental allowance.
If the second parent also takes parental leave, parents may choose between 14 months Base Parental Allowance or up to 28 months Parental Allowance Plus or combination of both forms of parental allowance.
- Partner Bonus
The newly introduced so-called “Partner Bonus” provides for four extra months of Parental Allowance Plus for each parent under the condition that both parents are at the same time working not less than 25 and not more than 30 hours a week on a monthly average and meet the general requirements for the receipt of parental allowance. In this way a partner-like childcare shall be supported.
- Additional financial benefits for single parents
Single parents can still claim – as compensation for the Partner Months that are only due to parental couples – two further months of Base Parental Allowance (or alternatively four further months of Parental Allowance Plus) under the condition that they have a loss of income resulting from childcare over a period of at least two months. Furthermore, single parents can receive – as substitute for the Partner Bonus that is also only due to parental couples – four further months of Parental Allowance Plus if they work in four sequential months not less than 25 and not more than 30 hours a week on a monthly average.
- More flexibility of parental leave
In future parents have the possibility of making use of up to 24 months of their parental leave between the child`s third and the eighth birthday. In deviation from the current legal situation, a consent of the employer will not be needed anymore pursuant to the new provisions.
Furthermore, in future the parental leave can be split up into three periods of time without the employer´s approval. If an employee, who decides to split up the parental leave into three periods, wants to use the third period between the child’s third and eighth birthday, the employer will be entitled to reject such request within eight weeks after its receipt for urgent operational reasons.
The increased flexibility gained by the possibility of splitting up the parental leave into three periods will also promote claims for part-time work.
- Deadlines for the claim of parental leave and part-time work during parental leave
Employees who want to make use of parental leave in the period up to the child´s third birthday have to claim it from their employers in writing not later than seven weeks prior to its start. Parental leave in the period between the child´s third and eighth birthday has to be claimed in writing at least 13 weeks before its beginning.
In addition, it will be crucial for employers to comply with the relevant periods for a rejection of a request for part-time work during parental leave, should the situation arise. Such request has to be rejected in writing within four weeks after its receipt in case of a parental leave until the third birthday of the child, and within eight weeks in case of a parental leave between the child’s third and eighth birthday. Otherwise, the consent of the employer and the reduction and allocation of working as desired by the employee are deemed to be granted. A rejection of such request is still possible for urgent operational reasons only.
- Special dismissal protection
Employees cannot be dismissed in the period from the demand for parental leave until its end unless the dismissal has, exceptionally, been declared admissible by the competent authority. However, in future this special dismissal protection will begin at the earliest eight weeks prior to the start of parental leave up to the child´s third birthday and at the earliest 14 weeks prior to the start of parental leave between the child´s third and eighth birthday.
- Interim arrangements
The revisions shall basically be applicable for all children who are born or accepted with the aim of adoption as of 1 July 2015. However, the revised version of Section 1 of the German Law On Parental Allowance And Parental Leave (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz – BEEG), under which the birth of multiple children only gives one entitlement to parental allowance, shall immediately apply for all children who are born or accepted with the aim of adoption as of 1 January 2015.