Parental Leave in Germany and its Effects on Your Health Insurance

Employees in Germany have the right to take time off from their jobs after the birth of their child under a system called Elternzeit

Employees in Germany have the right to take time off from their jobs after the birth of their child under a system called Elternzeit , and which is regulated  by the so-called Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz (BEEG). The parents can take time off for up to three years , after which they can return to work.

BOTH parents can take advantage of this for up to 36 months or “ share “ that time with 18 months each!

Equally, the parent/s can decide to work part-time at a reduced salary for up to 30 hours a week. At smaller companies – with up to 15 employees – the employee has to negotiate this with the employer.

And then there is the question of money!! “ Elterngeld “ is the payment available from the State to help secure the family´s standard of living despite their reduction in salary and lasts up to 12 months.  The payments vary between 300 and 1,800 euros monthly.

So what happens with regards to health insurance?

PRIVATE health insurance contracts for employees:
The Elterngeld ( family allowance ) and Elternzeit have no repercussions for the health insurance….except that the employer contribution falls to the wayside, leaving the employee to pay full contributions themselves without the usual employer contribution of usually 50 per cent. This is a financial burden… and this applies equally to voluntary members of public insurance.

However, in some cases, if both parents are privately health insured and one of the parents continues working normally, then the latter´s employer may offer a top up to the employer´s obligatory Arbeitgeberzuschuß if there is room to manoeuvre if the employee has an economical monthly payment anyway and the legal maximum employer contribution limit has not yet been reached.  

NOTE: there are private insurance tariffs which allow for freedom from payment of the monthly contributions in such cases for up to 6 months!
WHAT IF THE PRIVATELY INSURED EMPLOYEE decides to take advantage of Elternzeit but wants to work part-time , meaning his/her income falls below the level allowing for the option to be privately health insured ( Versicherungspflichtgrenze )?
Then, switching to public health insurance is theoretically mandatory but that person can be  “ freed from this obligation “ and remain privately insured for the length of the Elternzeit.

After that time, if the parent is still working part-time on a reduced salary, then he/she must switch to public health insurance.

Any money from the health insurer? 😊

Some scenarios

A privately health insured mother has no right to Mutterschaftsgeld from the State 
but DOES have the right  to sick pay (Krankengeldanspruch ) if  that was included in the health insurance contract – the same goes for publicly insured mothers as long as that was incorporated into the public insurance contract from the very beginning.

Self-employed mothers who are voluntary members of public insurance also have the right to Mutterschaftsgeld if this was included in the original application. Otherwise? NO!

In most cases, a privately insured mother or one on a family public insurance contract with her spouse has no right otherwise to Mutterschaftsgeld from the insurance company BUT it is possible to get financial assistance from the Bundesamt für Soziale Sicherung of up to 210 euros a month.

Worst case scenario: apply for assistance from the Sozialamt.

What about the baby's insurance?

If BOTH parents are privately insured - the baby must become privately health insured.

If ONE parent is privately insured and the other publicly insured…then it depends! If the privately insured spouse earns over the amount allowing for private insurance ( Jahresarbeitsentgeldgrenze), the baby can either become privately insured on its own contract OR become publicly insured with the other spouse …BUT NOT AS PART OF A FAMILY CONTRACT (Familienversicherung ) but rather with its own contract and costing around 170 euros or so a month extra.

NOTE: this is only the situation re bona fide spouses and not for unmarried couples having a baby or two!