For The Safety Of The Mother: Maternity Protection

Can I work during pregnancy? How do I finance the time directly after the birth? Can my employer question my pregnancy? And what happens if he gives me notice shortly before the birth? Questions like these buzz through the heads of many pregnant women. Fortunately, there are specific rules for each situation, which are laid down in the Maternity Protection Act (MuSchG). As a mother-to-be, you should be aware of your rights and demand them. We, therefore, inform you about everything there is to know about maternity protection.

The Aim Of Maternity Protection

As the name “Maternity Protection Act” implies, the regulations ensure the best possible health protection for breastfeeding and pregnant women and girls. The aim of the law is also to create equality between men and women in the labor market. Women should not be at a disadvantage in their jobs simply because they are pregnant. Thanks to the protection against dismissal before and after the birth and the financial support provided by the state, mothers are not forced to put their bread and butter above the well-being of their babies. In addition, the employment ban ensures the protection of unborn life. All in all, maternity protection offers working women more opportunities and rights and regulates the employment relationship of mothers before and after pregnancy.

Protection “Before” And “After” Birth: What Does That Mean?

Maternity protection is based on the calculated date of birth. Unlike parental leave, it begins before the baby is born. Maternity leave begins six weeks before the expected date of birth and lasts until eight weeks after the baby is born. Parents now have the option of taking parental leave for three years. This must be applied for seven weeks before it begins, i.e. during maternity leave. During parental leave, the family receives financial support in the form of parental allowance.

Of course, the birth usually deviates from the calculated date. So is one entitled to less time if the child is born a few days earlier? No, of course, the maternity leave after the birth is extended by the time you have lost. However, a medically recognized premature birth is an exception. This is the case, for example, if the child’s birth weight is less than 2500 grams. In this case, the maternity leave period is automatically extended by 4 weeks after the birth. In addition, there are other exceptions in which the maternity leave can be extended…

What Happens In Case Of A….

Multiple Birth?

The period of maternity protection before birth does not differ from the regular period in the case of twins or triplets. However, as in the case of a premature birth, the period of maternity protection after the birth is 12 weeks. Often, a mealie pregnancy is also accompanied by a spring birth. In this case, you have the possibility to use outpatient and mobile early care. This is to support the development of the child. It is best to contact the youth welfare office in your area.

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Disability Of The Child?

If your child is born with a physical or mental disability, your maternity leave is not automatically extended. However, you have the right to request an extension from the health insurance fund. In most cases, maternity leave is then extended to 12 weeks, as the birth is often accompanied by psychological and physical stress. Here, too, you have the option of obtaining information from the Youth Welfare Office about early support for your child’s development.


It is very stressful for a mother if the child is not born at all or is not born alive. Even though the psychological pain is often similar, a legal distinction is made between a stillbirth and a miscarriage. However, this differentiation is not intended to evaluate or question a woman’s suffering, but merely regulates legal matters, such as the effective date of maternity protection.

A miscarriage is not a delivery in the legal sense. It occurs when the baby does not show any vital signs outside the womb and its weight is less than 500 grams. In this case, maternity protection does not apply. Miscarriages can also occur at an earlier stage of pregnancy.

However, if the miscarriage occurs after the twelfth week of pregnancy, you are subject to special protection against dismissal. This means that you cannot be dismissed for up to four months after your miscarriage. You are also entitled to medical support and care. In the event of severe physical and psychological stress, the doctor can also certify that you are unable to work. Of course, you will not be left in the lurch financially. The only difference is that you do not receive the money now through maternity leave, but as part of the continued payment of wages in the event of illness.


One speaks of a stillbirth if the child’s birth weight or the weight at its death is at least 500 grams. In this case, the regular maternity protection period applies. You are not allowed to be employed during the protection period and are entitled to maternity pay and employer’s allowance. From the third week after delivery, you may return to work at your express request. Provided that your medical certificate does not prohibit it.

Termination Of Pregnancy By Abortion?

After an abortion, the right to maternity protection ends automatically.

Can I Waive The Maternity Protection Period?

At your express wish, you may continue to work before the birth despite maternity protection. You can withdraw this wish at any time. After giving birth, however, this is not possible, as you are subject to an absolute ban on employment. Pupils and students are an exception. They can return to work after the postnatal protection period.

Your employer may not require you to work during maternity leave. This also applies if you give your child up for adoption immediately.

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Who Is Affected By Maternity Protection?

Maternity protection applies to all pregnant and breastfeeding women who are in an employment relationship. No distinction is made between female employees. Part-time workers, domestic workers, and marginally employed women are therefore also entitled. Since January 1, 2018, female pupils and students are also entitled to maternity leave, provided that the place, procedure, and time of the training event are compulsorily specified by the training body. Find out more about the special regulations that apply to young mothers under 20 here!

Women who are undergoing vocational training based on an employment contract and graduates of federal voluntary service or an internship that is mandatory for the training are also covered by maternity protection. In the case of temporary employment, you are only affected by maternity protection until your employment relationship expires.

You are therefore subject to maternity protection regardless of your living status, relationship status, and nationality. The only important thing is that you work in Germany or in an employment relationship to which German law applies. In addition, maternity protection does not apply to adoptive mothers.

Expectant mothers are subject to special protection from the beginning of pregnancy until after the birth. The legal rules for pregnant women and young mothers essentially comprise two components: Protection against dismissal and the ban on employment. The protection against dismissal applies throughout the maternity protection period, while the employment ban only comes into force in the weeks before and after the birth. Nevertheless, the MuSchG includes some prohibitions of employment for pregnant women. Another important part of the Maternity Protection Act is maternity pay and various maternity protection benefits.

Obligation To Notify The Employer

In principle, it is advantageous for both the employer and the employee to speak openly about the pregnancy. In this way, precautions can be taken with regard to the present pregnancy in order to protect the pregnant employee, to adapt the work to her physical condition, or to train a substitute.

However, there is no obligation to notify the employer. So if you don’t want to talk to your boss about your pregnancy, you don’t have to! The same applies to your co-workers: No one has to know about your pregnancy, but in case of physically intensive work, you should inform your superiors in order to adapt your work to the pregnancy.

Occupational Safety Before Birth

Before giving birth, you must not perform any activities that endanger you or your child. If you work before the birth during maternity leave, your employer or the relevant supervisory authority should issue a ban on employment if the safety of both of you at work cannot be guaranteed. Before that, however, the employer should do everything possible to adapt your workplace to your situation as a pregnant woman. One idea for this may be a short-term transfer to another, less strenuous position.

There is also a medical ban on employment. This states that you may not perform any jobs or work processes that are hazardous to your health or risky during the entire pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding period. Again, it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure your employment is hazard-free.

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Working Hours

As an adult mother-to-be, you may not work more than 8.5 hours per day. Travel times and statutory rest breaks are not included. If you are employed by more than one employer, all hours must add up to 8.5. If you are under 18, you may not work more than 8 hours a day and may not exceed 80 hours in any two consecutive weeks. In addition, the employment of pregnant women on Sundays and holidays, as well as night work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. is prohibited.

Working Conditions During Pregnancy

Once you are pregnant, you are not allowed to perform any activities that endanger your health and that of the baby. Such activities are defined more precisely in the MuSchG. For example, from the 6th month onwards, you may no longer pursue your work if you have to stand all the time. During the entire pregnancy, you are not allowed to work if…

  • …it is piecework or assembly line work.
  • …the work involves a high risk of accidents.
  • …the work involves a lot of lifting or moving loads over 5 kg without assistance.
  • …your feet are subjected to excessive strain when operating machines.
  • …you are exposed to hazardous vapors, gases or substances at your workplace.

Absolute Ban On Employment After Childbirth

The Maternity Protection Act stipulates that the mother may not work under any circumstances during the first eight weeks after giving birth. Employers have no right to object and may be notified of any request to work. The purpose of the employment ban is to ensure the health of the mother and baby. You can find more information about the different forms of employment ban here.

Vacation Entitlement

Many mothers fear losing their vacation days in favor of maternity leave. However, this is not the case. Maternity leave is a state benefit and is therefore independent of recreational leave. Your employer, therefore, does not have the right to reduce your vacation days.

Protection Against Dismissal

The protection against dismissal comes into force as soon as you are pregnant and ends with your protection period after the birth. However, it is a prerequisite that your employer knows about your pregnancy. If you are dismissed without telling your employer about your pregnancy, you still have two weeks to inform your employer. The dismissal will then be canceled. You are also protected from dismissal if you did not know about the pregnancy at the time. The only important thing is that you were already pregnant on the day of termination. If the employer does not withdraw the notice of termination, first of all, ask him to do so again in writing. If there is no response, you can file a complaint with the district court, otherwise, the termination is considered legally binding.

The exception to this is if the company is insolvent or is shut down. In addition, the protection against dismissal is suspended if you have committed a serious breach of duty. Under no circumstances, however, may the dismissal be related to your pregnancy or childbirth.

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No Financial Disadvantage: Maternity Benefit

To ensure that the mother-to-be’s finances do not suffer as a result of the employment ban and her physical restriction, she is entitled to maternity benefit. This can be applied for one week before the start of maternity leave, i.e. seven weeks before the expected date of delivery. As with maternity protection, women must be in employment. There is also an entitlement to maternity benefit if the employment relationship begins at the start of the protection period or if the woman was permissibly dismissed after conception.

Normally, the statutory health insurance funds pay the maternity benefit. The amount depends on the earnings in the last three months but is a maximum of 13 euros per day. Those who are privately insured receive the maternity benefit from the Federal Insurance Office, also called the maternity benefit office. The maximum payment in this case is 210 euros.

The idea of the maternity benefit is not to put women at a financial disadvantage despite pregnancy and a ban on employment. So mothers can use their free time for themselves and the baby without worries. It is perfectly legitimate and even desirable for a pregnant woman to let work rest for the sake of the child for a short period of time. The protection against dismissal ensures that the woman does not have to become a housewife for this, but can return to her job without any problems at the end of maternity or parental leave.

Additional Financial Injection: Employer Allowance

As an extension of the maternity allowance, there is an employer’s allowance. Anyone who earns more than 13 euros net per day (i.e. 390 euros per month) receives the difference from the employer as an allowance.

Communication With The Employer

You can decide for yourself when to inform your employer about your pregnancy. However, it is fair to let them know as early as possible. In this way, your boss can better adapt the working conditions to your pregnancy and plan personnel replacements. Especially if you plan to take parental leave, it is helpful for your employer to know early on. This gives him the opportunity to hire longer-term temporary help.

Do I Need A Medical Certificate?

If your employer wants your doctor to confirm that you are pregnant, they will have to pay for it themselves. It is therefore sufficient if you pass on the information verbally. After that, your boss is not allowed to pass on the information to third parties.

Pregnant In A Job Interview: What To Do?

You are not legally obliged to tell someone that you are pregnant during a job interview. If you are specifically asked about it, you are even allowed to lie. It goes without saying that your application documents do not have to contain any information about your pregnancy.

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