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Maternity protection and health insurance fund benefits

Many students work part-time while at university. In the event of pregnancy/birth of a child, the provisions of the German Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchG) apply to them regardless of nationality or marital status.

Statutory protection against wrongful dismissal applies from the start of pregnancy until the end of parental leave. This also applies to part-time employees. If you receive notification of dismissal, you must inform your employer of your pregnancy within two weeks.

The period of protection begins six weeks before delivery and usually ends eight weeks after the birth, in the case of premature delivery or multiple births after twelve weeks. In the case of premature births and other premature deliveries, this period is extended by the length of time the mother is unable to take from the six-week period of protection prior to the birth (Article 6 of the Maternity Protection Act). For example, if the child is born 20 days before the due date, the employment restriction after the birth extends to 12 weeks and 20 days. Entitlement to maternity allowance is extended at the same time.

In the first eight weeks after the birth, there is a complete ban on employment. In the six weeks before the birth, a woman may only work if she explicitly wishes to do so.

It is important to remember that pregnant women may also be exposed to health risks during their studies. This is why maternity protection provisions are of equal importance to them. For example, the mother and unborn child may be exposed to risks during the practical phases of degrees in medicine and veterinary medicine or when handling chemical/biological substances during lab work.

To allow instructors to fulfil their obligation to provide care, they should be informed in good time if a student is pregnant. We therefore urge you to notify your respective instructor / head of practical training immediately if you are pregnant!

If possible, prior to a pregnancy the instructor should define the activities that a pregnant student may carry out in the appropriate field of work without harming herself or her child.

Under the Maternity Protection Act, expectant mothers must be excluded from activities that could be harmful to their own health or that of their child.

Maternity allowance

The Maternity Protection Act applies to all women who are in an employment relationship. It also applies to part-time employees and persons in low-paid part-time employment. Neither nationality nor marital status is of relevance. What is decisive is that the woman's workplace is in the Federal Republic of Germany. However, the law does not apply to students completing required work placements. Women with fixed-term contracts are covered by the Maternity Protection Act as long as the fixed-term contract is in effect.

The maternity protection period begins six weeks before delivery and usually ends eight weeks after the birth. Maternity allowance is paid by the statutory health insurance fund during the protection periods before and after delivery as well as for the day of delivery. Maternity allowance may be claimed at the earliest seven weeks before the anticipated date of delivery because the medical certificate may be issued at the earliest one week before the start of the protection period.

Only voluntarily or compulsorily insured members receive maternity allowance from statutory health insurance funds. The maternity allowance is calculated on the basis of the average earnings over the last three calendar months minus the statutory deductions, or from the last 13 weeks before the start of the protection period if paid on a weekly basis. For women who earn the same monthly income, each month is calculated as being 30 days. The maternity allowance per calendar day is a maximum of € 13. Women in low-paid part-time employment who are themselves members of the statutory health insurance fund (e.g. students) receive a maternity allowance of up to € 13 per calendar day from their health insurance fund even if they receive no pay during the protection periods. If the average net wage per calendar day exceeds € 13 (monthly net wage of € 390), the employer is obliged to contribute the difference (employer's contribution) towards the maternity allowance.

Maternity allowance from the Federal Social Insurance Office / BVA

Employees who are not themselves members of a statutory health insurance fund (e.g. privately insured women or women who are covered by family insurance in the statutory health insurance fund) receive a maternity allowance of a maximum of € 210 from the following authority:

Bundesversicherungsamt (BVA)

Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 38
D-53113 Bonn
Phone 0228 6191888

Contact hours by phone:
Mon - Fri 09.00 - 12.00
Thu 13.00 - 15.00

In this case, too, employers must pay the difference between the € 13 allowance and the average employer contribution per calendar day minus the statutory deductions. Information and application forms are available online at www.bva.de.

USEFUL TIP: In the case of pregnancy, it may be less expensive for married student couples if the wife is a member of the statutory health insurance fund and the husband is insured as a family member through her, rather than the other way round. In this case, the female student - if she is employed six weeks before the birth of a child - is eligible to receive the full maternity allowance rather than the maximum amount of € 210 paid by the Federal Insurance Office. However, this family insurance arrangement is only possible if the husband who wishes to be covered as a family member is in low-paid part-time employment.

IMPORTANT: If by way of exception the employment relationship may be terminated during the pregnancy or protection period after the birth, the federal government finances the allowance. Members are paid by the statutory health insurance fund, others by the Federal Insurance Office in Bonn. In the event of dispute, the State Office for Occupational and Technical Safety (Landesamt für Arbeitsschutz und technische Sicherheit) or finally an industrial tribunal shall decide on the legitimacy of the dismissal.

Other health insurance fund services

Childbirth benefit was withdrawn on 1 January 2004. Statutory health insurance funds are otherwise obliged to provide their members with the following benefits in the case of pregnancy and maternity leave:

  • Medical check-ups
  • Medical care and the help of a midwife
  • Antenatal classes
  • Cost of delivery in hospital or at home (including midwife's travel expenses for a home birth)
  • Postnatal exercise classes
  • Exemption from mandatory contributions to the costs of medication and hospital stays
  • Provision of a carer if help is needed at home as a result of the pregnancy and or delivery and no one living in the household is available to help
  • Home help if the insured person is unable - during the pregnancy or after delivery - to run the household herself and help cannot be provided by relatives or persons related by marriage up to the second degree
  • The newly born child is covered free of charge by the family insurance in one parent's statutory health insurance fund.
The health insurance funds can provide more information about exact terms and conditions. Consult your health insurance fund before claiming any of the above benefits.

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