Parental benefit is an important source of support for families in the first twelve (or fourteen) months of their child’s life. The benefit cushions the loss of earnings after the birth of a child. Parental benefit consequently makes it easier for mothers and fathers to take a break from or cut down on paid work in order to take time off for their child.
Conditions for claiming
Mothers and fathers can claim parental benefit if they:
- Look after and raise their children themselves from the time of birth
- Do not work more than 30 hours a week
- Live with their children in one household
- Have a place of residence or are normally resident in Germany
Spouses and civil partners who look after a child from the time of birth can receive parental benefit under the same conditions even if the child is not their own.
Parental benefit is also paid for up to 14 months for adopted children and children taken in with a view to adoption. The 14-month period begins when the child is taken into the household. Any remaining entitlement lapses with the child’s eighth birthday.
In the event of the parents’ severe illness, severe disability or death, parental benefit can be claimed by first, second and third-degree relatives (brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandparents and great-grandparents) and by their spouses or civil partners.
There is no entitlement to parental benefit for parents or otherwise entitled couples whose joint taxable income exceeded €500,000 in the year before the birth of the child. For single parents, the entitlement ceases at upwards of €250,000.
Under EU law, nationals of other EU/EEA member states and Switzerland can generally claim parental benefit if they live or work in Germany.
Other foreign nationals can claim parental benefit if their stay is likely to be long-term based on the type of residence permit they hold and whether they are allowed to work. Holders of a permanent settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) satisfy the conditions for claiming automatically. Holders of a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) only meet the conditions for claiming if they have a German work permit or have already legally worked in Germany. Holders of a residence permit issued in case of hardship, for the holder’s temporary protection, under a stay of deportation or because of circumstances preventing the holder’s departure can only claim parental benefit if they have been resident in Germany for at least three years and are in employment or receiving unemployment benefit.
Benefit amount and duration
Parental benefit cushions the loss of the income that the parent looking after a child had in the year preceding the child’s birth and no longer has following the birth. The benefit replaces 65 percent of a prior monthly income of €1,240 or higher, 66 percent of a prior monthly income of €1,220 and 67 percent of a prior monthly income of between €1,000 and €1,200. For low earners with a monthly income of less than €1,000 prior to the child’s birth, the percentage rises up to 100 percent on a sliding scale: the lower the income, the higher the percentage. The minimum amount of parental benefit is €300 and the maximum amount is €1,800.
The minimum amount of €300 is paid to all entitled parents, even if they were not in employment prior to the child’s birth. Families with two or more children can receive a bonus equal to 10 percent of their parental benefit entitlement, or €75, whichever is greater. For multiple births, parental benefit increases by €300 a month for the second and each additional multiple birth child.
Each individual parent can claim a minimum of two and a maximum of twelve months’ benefit. A child’s two parents can claim a total of twelve months’ benefit between them. The benefit is paid for months of the child’s life (as opposed to calendar months). The entitlement is supplemented by two additional months’ benefit if both parents claim and their earned income is reduced for two of the months for which benefit is claimed.
Parental benefit is deducted in full, as income, from unemployment benefit II, social assistance and supplementary child allowance. However, parents who receive these benefits but were in employment prior to the birth of their child are entitled to an exempt amount. The exempt amount corresponds to the prior income subject to a maximum limit of €300 per month. Up to this amount, parental benefit is not deducted from these benefits and so remains at the parents’ disposal.
The legal framework for parental benefit and parental leave is the Federal Parental Benefit and Parental Leave Act (Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz).
Zuständig für die Ausführung des Gesetzes sind die von den Landesregierungen bestimmten Stellen:
- in Baden-Württemberg die Landeskreditbank,
- in Bayern das Zentrum Bayern Familie und Soziales,
- in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern und Hessen die Versorgungsämter,
- in Berlin und Rheinland-Pfalz die Jugendämter,
- in Brandenburg die Landkreise,
- in Hamburg die Bezirksämter,
- in Bremen das Amt für Soziale Dienste,
- in Bremerhaven das Amt für Familie und Jugend,
- in Niedersachsen die Gemeindeverwaltungen,
- in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt und Thüringen, die Kreise/Landkreise und kreisfreien Städte,
- im Saarland die Elterngeldstelle beim Ministerium für Arbeit, Familie, Prävention, Soziales und Sport,
- in Schleswig-Holstein die Außenstellen des Landesamtes für Soziale Dienste.
Information on this is set out in a German-language brochure, ‘Elterngeld und Elternzeit’ (‘Parental Benefit and Parental Leave’). Further information is available by calling the service line run by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, on 030 20179130 (9 am to 6pm) or ordering a broschure from the Publikationsversand der Bundesregierung, Postfach 481009, 18132 Rostock. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org