Questions and Answers for Expecting Parents

 

FAQ – Expecting Parents (Employees)

What are the maternity leave guidelines for employees?

Maternity leave begins six weeks before the estimated date of birth and typically ends eight weeks after giving birth.  For premature and multiple births, maternal leave job protection is granted for twelve weeks after giving birth.

How much Mutterschaftsgeld/maternity allowance is paid?

The maternity allowance paid by the gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, or German State Health Insurance, is capped at 13 euros per calendar day. If the average net income per calendar day exceeds 13 euros, then the employer is obligated to make up the difference in order to reach the correct amount of maternity allowance. The calculation is based on the average net income minus statutory deductions.

Female employees who are not members in a statutory health insurance fund – for instance those covered by mandatory insurance under a family plan – receive a maternity allowance of 210 euros maximum, which is paid by the German Federal (Social) Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt. The maternity allowance of expecting mothers with higher incomes is also supplemented by employers. This payment is based on the difference between a supposed net wage of 13 euros per calendar day and the average actual net income earned by the expecting mother.

How and when do I apply for maternity allowance?

Depending on how you are insured, you will have to apply either with your mandatory health insurance provider or the German Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt.

Female employees who are members of the statutory health insurance fund receive their maternity allowance from their health insurance provider. Expecting mothers who are privately insured or covered under a public insurance family plan, can only receive maternity pay from the German Insurance Office, or Bundesversicherungsamt. In order to apply, you will need a doctor's note stating the approximate date of delivery. This is typically issued eight weeks before the due date.

Caution: The maternity allowance paid by the Bundesversicherungsamt can be claimed in addition to the parental allowance; the maternity allowance paid by the mandatory insurance provider after the birth of a child, however, is being offset against the parental allowance.

My employment contract is due to end before or during my maternity leave. Who will pay my maternity allowance and for how long?

Women who are not employed at the beginning of their maternity leave but are entitled to receive sick pay due to being insured with one of the mandatory insurance providers, will be paid a maternity allowance equal to the amount of sick pay from their health insurance provider for the time of their supposed maternity leave. There won't be a supplemental payment on the part of an employer in this case.

Unemployed women who are covered by mandatory health insurance according to SGBIII due to being recipients of unemployment benefits at the beginning of the time period in which they are protected by the maternity guidelines and whose employment is not legitimately terminated during their pregnancy, will be paid their maternity allowance by their mandatory health insurance provider. The amount of the maternity allowance is equal to the amount of the umemployment benefit that was paid before the insured woman entered the maternity protection period before childbirth.

If a fixed-term employment contract runs out during the maternity protection time period, the maternity allowance by the insurance provider as well as the supplemental payment by the employer will be paid until the contract ends. Subsequently, these women will receive a maternity allowance from their health insurance provider that is equal to the amount of sick pay. It will be disbursed until the end of the maternity protection period.

Detailed information on maternity protection guidelines and maternity allowance can be found in the German language maternity guidelines information leaflet, or Leitfaden zum Mutterschutz, published by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and youth.

After the birth of my child I first want to take a year of parental leave and then come back to work part-time. Do I have a legal right to part-time employment and would I be assigned different tasks in this case?

While on parental leave you may work 30 hours a week at maximum. Thus, it would be possible, for example, to take two years of parental leave and come back to work after a year with reduced/part-time hours. You have a right to work part-time during parental leave if your place of employment offers jobs to more than 15 individuals, your employment there has already lasted more than six months and there are no operational reasons to preclude it. Another prerequisite is also that your hours be reduced to 15 to 30 hours a week for a duration of at least two months.

You are not generally entitled to be assigned the same tasks as before going on parental leave, but you can only be transferred to an equivalent position. You have to notify your employer in writing at least seven weeks before you wish to begin working part-time; if you plan to use this opportunity for part-time employment during parental leave when your child is between three and eight years old, then you will have to notify your employer 13 weeks beforehand.

Should you already know that you will want to work part-time during your parental leave, we recommend that you notify your employer as soon as possible; you could even indicate your wishes or put in a firm request when applying for parental leave.

Do I get to keep my health insurance while on parental leave?

Compulsory members of public health insurance who are not receiving any other stipends liable to contribution except for the parenting allowance are insured without cost during their parental leave.

Privately insured parents must continue to personally pay their insurance premiums during their parental leave as before.

Public officials may apply with the LBV for reimbursement of their contributions towards health insurance for an amount of up to 31 euros monthly for the duration of their parental leave. In order to be eligible, earnings before taking parental leave cannot have exceeded the income threshold for compulsory insurance. Further information on the specific provisions for receiving financial aid during different types of leave can be found on the NRW Ministry of Finance website.

My contract is due to end during my parental leave. Will it be extended so I can make up the time?

Fixed-term employment contracts are not extended as a result of parental leave.

Certain exceptions apply to academic staff members whose fixed-term contracts are subject to the regulations according to the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, WissZeitVG for short. In cases of fixed-term contracts regulated by Section 2 (1) WissZeitVG, the duration of a fixed-term employment contract will be extended by those time periods, during which an employee has not worked due to being protected by maternity leave guidelines or having availed herself of the right to take parental leave (Section 2 (5) WissZeitVG). For further information please contact the Department of Human Resources (Dezernat 8.0).

Am I entitled to paid vacation during maternity leave and parental leave?

You will accrue vacation days during maternity leave. These are calculated as they are during regular periods of employment. Entitlement to vacation is reduced by one twelfth for every full month of parental leave. Detailed instructions on how to calculate how many vacation days you are due to receive can be found in the RWTH vacation handbook.

Where can I find comprehensive information about Elterngeld and ElterngeldPlus?

You can find an overview of the Elterngeld regulations in our Elterngeld/ElterngeldPlus Info Brochure (de).

On the German language website provided by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, or BMFSFJ for short, you will find detailed information, a brochure as well as a Elterngeld-calculator. You also have the opportunity to make an appointment with the RWTH Family Services Center for counceling services.

Where do I apply for Kindergeld?

You have to apply for Kindergeld at the Family Benefits Office, or Familienkasse, at the local labor office, or Agentur für Arbeit. More information on everything concerning Kindergeld can be found in German here.

Public service employees receive Kindergeld from their employer's family benefits office, in this case the LBV. You can find request forms and more information here. Kindergeld is paid beginning the month of the child's birth.

Will I receive paid leave if I have to stay home to care for my sick child? What are my rights as an RWTH Aachen employee?

According to Section 45 SGB V, employees who are compulsory members of public health insurance will receive up to ten working days paid sick leave for each publicly insured child if the child is younger than twelve years old and if they are unable to come to work because they must care for the sick child due to the fact that there is noone else in the household who could take on this task. The doctor's note attesting to the child's illness for this time period must also be provided.

The entitlement to such sick leave is capped at 25 working days – or 50 days for single parents. In order to receive paid leave for the purpose of caring for sick children, you must first put in a request with your employer which must also include the medical certificate by the child's doctor. This child-related sick pay request is then submitted to the respective compulsory health insurance provider. The maximum amount provided is equivalent to 90 percent of the employee's net income.

RWTH employees who are not entitled to receive child-related paid sick leave pursuant to Section 45 SGB V – for instance if they or the child are privately insured – are entitled to request up to four days of paid leave a year to care for their severly ill children according to Section 29 TV-L. You can find more information in this regard on pages 30ff of the RWTH vacation handbook.

What is the earliest age my child can start daycare?

When your child turns one year old, you have a legal right to a childcare place. A Kita, private nursery or nanny may accept your child even at an earlier age. In order to receive government funded childcare for children younger than one year old, you will need to fulfill certain prerequisites, however. We highly recommend that you make an appointment with the RWTH Aachen Family Services Center to find out about all of your options with regard to childcare in a personal consultation setting.

When should I start looking for a childcare place?

There are no hard and fast rules about when to start looking for a childcare place. At what point you start looking or applying really depends on how old the child will be when he or she begins childcare and what type of childcare you are envisioning for your child. To help you fully understand your options and choices we recommend that you make an appointment for a personal consultation with the RWTH Aachen Family Services Center.

Where can I find an overview of the childcare options available to me in Aachen?

The City of Aachen has comprehensive offers for families in Aachen. You can find comprehensive information about all childcare offers in the city – regardless whether they are state, church, public, or private institutions – on the website www.aachen.de/familie. The Kitaportal was created to make the allocation of KiTa spots easier. You can use the portal to register your child for publicly funded institutions of almost all kinds in the city.

I am employed at RWTH Aachen and am looking for daycare for my child. Are there special offers for University employees?

The following childcare options are specifically available to RWTH Aachen employees: There are a total of 42 spots available at Kindertagesstätte Königshügel for the children of employees.There are also daycare spots for children under the age of three in the "U 3 Groups" organized by the RWTH Family Services Center. The parent initiatives "Zauberschloss" and "Uni & Kind," which both have the support of the University, are two other alternatives. You can find more information about childcare here.

I work at an affiliate institute of RWTH Aachen. Can my child attend the Kita Königshügel or one of the U3 Groups at RWTH Aachen?

Unfortunately this is not possible, as RWTH Aachen finances these institutions specifically to care for its employees' children. You should inquire at your institute, if there are any arrangements with childcare institutions.

I work at University Hospital Aachen and am looking for childcare for my child. Are there special offers for UKA employees?

Childcare spots in the daycare "Schneebergkids" are open to UKA employees. There are also offers for short-term childcare.

You can find further information here. If you need further advising, please contact the University Hospital Family Services Office.

I also partially work at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Can I also find childcare for my child in Jülich?

Forschungszentrum Jülich also helps its employees look for suitable childcare. It also operates a KiTa nearby, where you can directly register your child. You can find information here. If you need further advising, please contact the Equal Opportunities Bureau.

What are the prices for my child's daycare at a Kita?

For publicly funded childcare, such as provided in a Kita or by an in-home daycare provider, you will have to pay a monthly parental contribution to the youth welfare office, or Jugendamt. The exact cost is determined by your yearly gross household income, but the age of the child and the extent and duration of care are factors in the calculation as well. You can find detailed information in German about the monthly Parental Contributions for Kitas and about  in-home daycare offered by nannies on the city of Aachen website.

What are the offers for school-age children?

For children aged six to eleven, RWTH Aachen University is offering a holiday recreation service during the Easter, summer and fall vacation. Further RWTH offerings for school students can be found under the heading  Schülerprogramme. In addition, numerous vacation activities are provided by other, diverse Aachen institutions.  Information about vacation programs can be found on the City of Aachen website.

The open all-day schools, or OGS for short, typically provide some childcare during school vacations for grade school children – for three weeks during summer vacations for example. Children who will only begin with the first grade after the summer break can already participate in these offers at their future OGS. Many open all-day schools also offer a one-week long vacation program during Easter and fall vacation.

I am the father of two school-age children. Am I allowed to take my vacation during the holiday breaks?

The vacation handbook offers a detailed explanation of the few cases, in which vacation requests cannot be granted. There need to be compelling reasons preventing the granting of a vacation request, such as teaching duties for instance. If requests are in conflict with the vacation wishes of collegues, several aspects need to be considered, including those of a social nature, such as having family responsibilities and, in particular, caring for school-aged children. If an agreement cannot be reached, the human resources department will be contacted. They will make a decision with the help of the Staff Council.

Are the costs of having someone accompany me on a business trip reimbursed if this person is needed to care for my child?

According to the State Travel Expense Law, costs for an accompanying person can be reimbursed if the primary traveler is still nursing. Otherwise there are no cases, in which travel expenses for a travel companion may be reimbursed. We strongly recommend that you contact the Travel Management and Benefits Office (Division 8.3) to have your specific travel plans approved in advance.

 

I am not married at the time of my child's birth – what do I have to consider?

If a newborn's parents are not married at the time of birth, a father's paternity will have to be acknowledged separately even if both parents are living with the child in one family household. Only after paternity has been proven, you as the father will be entered into the birth registry and your child will be entitled to receive child support, inherit from your estate or claim pension benefits while you in turn gain custody rights. It can also be helpful to have your paternity acknowledged before applying for any public benefits or assistance. This process is possible even before the birth of your child, but at the latest it should be accomplished right after.

The father of the child can acknowledge paternity at the Youth Welfare Office – Jugendamt – or at the Civil Registry Office – Standesamt – free of charge. The mother has to give her consent. Acknowleding paternity allows fathers to exercise their parental rights, such as being allowed regular parenting time with the child, while at the same time holding them responsible to support their child financially. Further information and the name and numbers of your  city of Aachen contact person are provided in German here.

If the father is not willing to acknowledge paternity, the mother can apply to have paternity established by judicial decree at the family court, or Familiengericht. In this case, the Youth Welfare Office can also be relied on for support in this matter. If a child's parents are not married and have not declared whether or not they want to raise the child in joint custody, then the mother initially has sole custody of the child. Joint custody is, however, possible for an unmarried couple. The declaration of joint custody can also be registered at the responsible Jugendamt and can already be accomplished before the birth of the child. The Jugendamt provides further information in this matter on the City of Aachen service portal.

I am a single parent. Can I apply for additional aid?

  • VAMV: The local chapter of the association for single mothers and fathers, or Verband alleinerziehender Mütter und Väter offers advice and support for single parents.
  • Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind: The Bundesstiftung Mutter und Kind – Schutz des ungeborenen Lebens is a federal foundation offering financial aid to pregnant women in need.
  • Unterhaltsvorschuss: Single parents who do not, or not regularly, receive support payments from the other parent, may apply for a maintenance advance. On the website of the  BMFSFJ – or Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth – more information is provided, albeit only in German. You'll have to apply for this type of financial aid with the Unterhaltsvorschusskasse Aachen at the Jugendamt – or Youth Welfare Office.
  • Beistandschaft: Guardianship is a voluntary service offer for single parents with sole custody. More specifically, it is a special form of legal guardianship, which encompasses two possible fields of activity: determining paternity and collecting parental support payments. More information can be found in the German language online publication by BMFSFJ or you may contact the city of Aachen for further assistance.
  • Darlehen des Hildegardis-Vereins: The Hildegardis association offers students who are single mothers an intrest-free loan. To be eligible, the student must not have turned 30 years of age yet and she must belong to a Christian denomination.  All types of subject areas and degree programs are being funded – even second degree programs or postgraduate programs.

Where can I get advice for my individual case?

The Family Services Center in the Equal Opportunities Office provides information and advising to (expecting) parents on the topics maternity leave, parental leave, parenting allowance, and childcare, and supports them with making their plans.

The Department of Human Resources – either 8.1, 8.2, or 8.5 depending on your profile – offers advising for all human resources matters.

Division 7.4 – External Funding advises institutions on any settlement questions with the respective project (sponsor). As there are thousands of different programs at RWTH Aachen, which fund employees' positions, project-specific advising is required.