Mutterschutz, a.k.a. maternity leave. A great concept to allow mothers-to-be to be protected before and after giving birth from ill-meaning employers, and simultaneously keep earning a living with the help of Mutterschaftgeld.
But who is entitled to Mutterschutz? How long does it last? How about when having twins/ multiples or premature babies? Let's zoom into the possibilities together.
First of all, it is important to note that Mutterschutz is maternity leave. It is different from Mutterschaftsgeld, which is maternity benefits.
Mutterschutz only applies to employed mothers as it is meant to protect employees and regiment the working hours of pregnant and new mothers in the workplace. Although self-employed women do not have "Mutterschutz" per se, it does not mean however that they don't have the ability to claim Mutterschaftsgeld (look out for my next article on Mutterschaftsgeld).
Mutterschutz law protects mothers from losing their job during the entire pregnancy until 4 months after the baby is born.
According to Maternity Protection law (Mutterschutzgesetz), expecting mothers do not have to work during the last 6 weeks of their projected pregnancy, but may do so as long as they formally state their intention to work during this period (paragraph 3). That means an expectant mother can choose to work up until the baby's birth if she wishes to do so. During that time she chooses to work however, she will not be entitled to Mutterschaftsgeld as she is earning her normal salary.
New mothers are not allowed to return to work until 8 weeks have passed since the date of their child's birth (paragraph 5).
For premature (baby weighing less than 2600 grams at birth) and multiple births (i.e. twins/triplets etc.), the return date to work is extended automatically to 12 weeks after birth (paragraph 5.1).
If the baby is born before the due date:
In this instance, the end of the Mutterschutz will be 8 weeks after birth (12 weeks in the case or multiples and / or preemies) plus the number of days the baby was born early (a maximum of 6 weeks though).
Due date is June 1st.
Baby is born on May 24th so 7 days early. The end of the Mutterschutz will be 8 weeks + 7 days after the actual date of birth.
Due date of twins is June 1st.
Babys are born on May 24th so 7 days early. The end of the Mutterschutz will be 12 weeks + 7 days after the actual date of birth.
Due date of twins is June 1st.
Babys are born on March 23rd so 10 weeks early. The end of the Mutterschutz will be 12 weeks + 6 weeks after the actual date of birth.
If the baby is born after the due date:
In this case, the Mutterschutz will end 8 weeks after the actual date of birth.
Can I be dismissed during the Mutterschutz?
Your employer cannot dismiss you during pregnancy until 4 months after work. This protection extends if you decide to take Elternzeit (parental leave).
Can I resign during Mutterschutz?
Yes you can. Although be aware that it may impact the amount of Mutterschaftsgeld you receive. See my next article about this.
Will my temporary work contract be extended if it ends within the legal Mutterschutz period?
No. If your work contract is due to expire during the Mutterschutz, it will expire. Chances are that your employer will not renew your contract afterwards. To know what happens with your Mutterschaftsgeld in that instance, please see my article on the topic.
I hope this was helpful. If you can't find your situation listed here, please help yourself, me and other readers by signaling it to email@example.com.
If you need more help to understand the German paperwork around the baby's birth, I offer individual consultations and group workshops. Feel free to get in touch or to schedule a call to find out more about my services.