Following up on one of our posts last May, the German Parliament approved reforms of the Maternity Protection Act on 30 March 2017. The reforms are, however, still subject to the approval of the German Federal Council. One of the key changes will be an extension of the scope of protection, as a result of which schoolgirls, interns and students will also be entitled to statutory protection. The period of protection of mothers after giving birth will be extended to 12 weeks (instead of 8 weeks) if the child was born with a disability. In all other cases, the periods of protection will remain the same, i.e. mothers are not obliged to work six weeks before and eight weeks after giving birth. The reform also provides for special dismissal protection for a period of 4 months following a miscarriage after the first trimester. Following the reform, prohibitions on working will no longer be enforced against a mother's wishes. Employers will be primarily obliged to make accommodations in order to avoid any dangers for mother and child. Working time restrictions for mothers-to-be will also be loosened, subject to the mothers' consent.
The majority of the changes will come into force on 1 January 2018, while the prolonged protection period for mothers with children with disabilities and the dismissal protection rights in case of a miscarriage will enter into force once the law has been passed.