If I had a euro for every time someone requested I write a post about having a baby in Germany I would have about 8 EUR. I have delayed this post because , well, I can’t seem to touch my laptop without my daughter trying to eat it and there is so much information I’m afraid that I will miss something . I want this blog to not only be entertaining but resourceful, so here goes nothing.
You went and got yourself knocked up in Germany of all places.
Don’t panic! Due to the shrinking population of ethnic Germans the German government offers parents a generous amount of benefits to convince them to breed. The government really encourages having a baby in Germany because your bundle of joy will hopefully be a future tax payer and the foundation of its economy.
The benefits of having a baby in Germany start as soon as you tell your employer that you are pregnant. Once you inform your employer that you are expecting it is pretty difficult to get fired and it starts what is known as maternity protection. There has to be pretty extenuating circumstances to fire an expectant mother so go ahead slack off, take long lunches and leave at 3. Take the absolute piss!
Mothers must take a mandatory 6 weeks off before the scheduled birth and 8 weeks after. If you have complications, multiples or a c-section the time may be extended to 12 weeks after the birth. During this time you are entitled to Muttershaftsgeld which is 100 % of your salary paid mostly by your employer. Your public health insurance kicks in 13 EUR a day and you will receive that payment in a lump-sum directly into your bank account.
The baby is here….now what?
After 8 weeks after the birth you can either return to work (srsly who would do that?) or take what is known as Elternzeit, paternity leave. Elternzeit can be taken by both parents. During paternity leave you have full employment protection. It can be taken for a total of 3 years up until the child’s 8th birthday (If you chose to save a year for later this has to be discussed and with your employer). Yes that’s right you can take up to 3 years off of work to do parental stuff. Many parents take off one year and then work 2 years part time others take the full three year break and then return to work pregnant again. HA!
During Elternzeit you are entitled to a parental allowance called Elterngeld. Elterngeld is paid by the government and partially replaces lost wages while you are home with your child. Elterngeld can be paid for up to 12 or 14 months and is equivalent to approx 64% of your income. The 14 months can be split between both parents or taken entirely by a single parent.
This kid is eating me out of house and home!!
The German government gives an additional benefit to families regardless of income or need called Kindergeld. Kindergeld is intended to offset some of the cost associated with having a baby in Germany. Parents residing with a child in Germany are entitled to this as long as you are not receiving a similar benefit in another country (many EU countries offer their own version of Kindergeld) Kindergeld ranges from 184 EUR to 215 EUR, depending on the number of children per household. It is paid from birth and continues monthly until early adulthood (up to 18 or 25 if still in school)
But wait, there is still more!
Not only are parents offered generous employment leave but daycare and education is extremely affordable and in many cases FREE. Daycare is largely subsidized by the government and your contributions are based on your household income. Of course many parents opt for private daycare, schools or universities and those come with additional fees.
Keep in mind with all these benefits comes PAPERWORK. The one thing Germans love more than potential tax payers is friggin paperwork! In my district there was a six moth delay in the payment of Elterngeld because the application process is cumbersome. (THE STRUGGLE! ) There is a lot of hoop jumping and tail chasing but in the end it is all worth it. I am currently in my 11 month of Paternity Leave and plan to return to work in July. I can’t express how blessed I feel to have had all this time to share with my daughter.
So that’s my first crack. Let me know if I left anything out or if you have questions.
Additional resources for having a baby in Germany in English:
Please note that benefits for unemployed, freelance, limited contract and the privately insured vary. Also for many of these benefits you have to have a valid residence permit to be eligible.