Entitlement to parental leave: the requirements

In principle, working parents are entitled to parental leave. However, there are a few conditions that you must meet when applying for parental leave. Here you can find out under what conditions your entitlement to parental leave is valid.

Basic conditions for entitlement to parental leave

Parental leave helps parents to better reconcile work and family life. You are entitled to up to three years of parental leave, during which you can devote yourself intensively to your child while work is either reduced or completely suspended. You submit a written application to your employer seven weeks before the start of parental leave. You can find out everything you need to consider in our article “Application for parental leave” .

You can take parental leave for biological and non-biological children provided a few conditions are met. In principle, the following applies to all applicants:

  • The child you look after must grow up in your household.
  • It is mainly taken care of by yourself.
  • During parental leave, you will not work more than 30 hours a week.

Your place of residence does not affect your entitlement to parental leave as long as your employment is subject to German labor law . This is particularly important for cross-border commuters who have to commute between two countries for work and residence. With a German employment contract, you can also benefit from parental leave when you live abroad. Likewise, foreigners with a work permit and a German employment contract can take parental leave for themselves, but they must find out exactly what they are entitled to for parental allowance .

In principle, you are also entitled to parental leave in every employment relationship, i.e. even with a fixed-term employment contract, as a seasonal worker, part-time worker or trainee. But be careful: Fixed-term employment contracts are not automatically extended with parental leave, and you should also check your options carefully in advance for training contracts.

Entitlement to parental leave for non-biological children

For example, if you want to apply for parental leave for your partner’s child or an adopted child, you may need to meet additional requirements in order for your application to be approved. But usually parental leave is not a problem, even for non-biological children:

  • Partner’s child: You are entitled to parental leave for your partner’s child if you are married or live in a registered partnership (for same-sex couples). In addition, the parents with custody must agree to your parental leave.
  • Adopted children: If you adopt a child, you are entitled to parental leave as soon as it enters your household. This also applies to children who already live with you at home but for whom the adoption process has not yet been officially completed. While biological children usually have to take parental leave for the first three years of their life, there is an exception for adoptive children: you can apply for parental leave until the child has reached the age of eight. You can read more about the duration and distribution of parental leave in our article “How long do you take parental leave?” .
  • Foster Children: As with adopted children, full-time foster children are entitled to parental leave as soon as they join your household. You can apply for parental leave up to your eighth birthday, but you need the consent of the parents who have custody in advance.
  • Child of relatives: You are also entitled to parental leave for children of the closest relatives – this means specifically nephews, nieces, siblings or grandchildren – if the parents are unable to look after them due to serious illness, disability or death.
  • Grandchildren: If the parents are still minors or are in the last or penultimate year of training (if the training began before their 18th birthday), the grandparents can take over the parental leave. In this case, of course, both parents have to forgo their parental leave.

In your case the situation is a bit more complicated? For detailed advice, it is best to contact the local parental allowance office, which also knows exactly what to do with parental leave or maternity leave. The local authority hotline – on number 115 – can often help with questions.

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